Adopting Lean Principles in Projects

How Can We Enhance Project Management?

Productivity for many means using less resources whilst increasing the output, for others it means enhanced inventory management. Whichever way you define productivity, adopting lean principles is an important step to improving the outcome of any project.

What Is Lean Project Management?

According to Lean Enterprise Institute, “The core idea of lean management is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Simply, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources. A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste.”

Lean is a management philosophy originally created by Toyota Production Systems abbreviated as TPS, formulated to enhance manufacturing & logistics by streamlining interaction with customers and suppliers.

According to TPS, there were several challenges to consider:

  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Overproduction
  • Extra process
  • Defects

These challenges came to be known as the “7 mudas” which is the Japanese word for futility (or waste). Since then sectors which have adapted the lean management principles include IT, construction and even education adapted to their own needs with a lean mindset.

What Is A Lean Mindset?

The “lean mindset” is an adaptation of principles, applied to how lean design and development should look in order to facilitate process improvements.

Some Of The Benefits Adopting Lean Management Include:

  • Enhanced customer service: Delivering exactly what the customer needs
  • Improved productivity: Increased output and value-add per person
  • Quality enhancement: Implementing rigorous quality checks
  • Innovation: Introducing brainstorming and creative ideas
  • Reduced waste: Less transport, waiting and other inefficient use of space
  • Improved lead times: Quicker responses are enabled with fewer delays
  • Improved inventory management: Fewer bottleneck processes

How Can We Achieve Consistent Results?

The PDCA cycle – also known as the Deming philosophy, defines four phases of achieving consistent results:

  • PLAN – Identify the problem
  • DO – Develop solutions to address the problem
  • CHECK – Track the effectiveness of the proposed solutions and improve
  • ACT – Execute and apply improved solutions

This approach is particularly useful for recurring projects by organizing impact analysis brainstorming sessions during the PLAN phase. In the DO phase, it is important to allow teams to identify solutions to problems which may occur in a project life cycle. The CHECK phase should be used to track the quality of the solutions implemented. The ACTphase as the final process should include improvements in the project. Resulting in an improved project process with every repeat.

The 5S Program is another useful tool of lean management:

  • Sort
  • Straighten
  • Shine
  • Standardize
  • Sustain

Lean principles supports empowering the team, who understand the work philosophy and mentor it to the wider organization.As the customer is a part of the lean management process it is key to use lean project management in projects that are iterative and have short-term delivery timeline.

Reduce waste and increase customer collaboration by applying lean principles in projects today!

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