As a management framework, lean is proven to maximize company results. Its roots lie in the factories of war-torn Japan, but its versatility makes it a valuable tool for many businesses.
Organizations may use it to fine-tune their operations and to eliminate inefficient procedures.
Aiming to improve the lives of every employee, lean strives to enhance all company operations. The ultimate goal of this company-wide reorganization is to improve product/service quality and increase profits.
Don’t worry if this sounds like too much for you to manage! If you’ve read thus far, you should have a good sense of what lean agile project management can achieve for your business.
Not a single drop of water was lost
As a long-term process improvement paradigm, lean covers all aspects of an organization’s work. Modern management, therefore, covers every vital area and eliminates disastrous project pitfalls. Maximizing value and reducing waste are the two primary goals (work or investment that adds no real deal).
Waste can refer to several things, including:
- We’re waiting for you! (time lost to backlogs)
- Producing more than you need
- Inventories with faults
- Transportation inefficient
- There are too many steps in the process.
- Inefficient use of brainpower/skills
The sun rises in the east
Because of the potential for misunderstanding, it should be highlighted that the agile component of lean refers to the way of completing projects in short spurts of time. Insights and reviews are generated continuously, allowing you to modify methods and processes on the go.
Lean, on the other hand, was born in the post-World War II Japanese manufacturing industry. The Toyota Production System was developed in Japan, where it helped automakers manage the turbulent market conditions of the time. Back then, blowing up the budget was not an option.
Lean sparked the following advances in particular:
- Production expenses are reduced
- Profit margins are increasing
- Reduction of inventory
- It’s a better product!
- Customer satisfaction is higher.
As limited as the original narrative may appear, lean may be applied to both the service and industrial sectors. After the Lean methodology’s spectacular popularity, it was imported into the West. As a result, there has been a paradigm change in the United States and other world areas.
It’s not just about the price
Eventually, this process of change spilt over into other industries that are far apart from traditional manufacturing. This is why today’s government, healthcare, aerospace and financial services are adopting this technology. As an example, the knowledge sector is viewed as non-repetitive and non-replicable. In addition to transforming and standardizing it, lean has also succeeded to standardize it.
Further, Kanban has been effectively used for software development (also pioneered by Toyota). They could do this thanks to visual aids that mimicked a production-line layout. Thus, visualization helps us breach the gap between business goals and practice, including physical end-product or waste. Today’s business practices are consistent with the concepts of manufacturing. You could say that anything of consumer value is a suitable candidate for lean treatment.
I’m going with the flow
Speaking of which, the concept of value stream mapping is the core mechanism of lean machinery.
It revolves around monitoring how the value and waste are created. Here, we have a sequence of activities, items, and information involved in the project and end-product delivery. The project itself has a predetermined value in terms of inputs and outputs.
More specifically, lean teaches us how to allocate materials and products where they need to be, at precisely the right time. That is the surefire way to make the most of the resources that stand at your disposal. To make it happen, however, managers have much ground to cover. They often use timelines that closely follow the ups and downs of consumer demand.
The first thing to do before diving in is to change the mindset. Lean governs everything that an organization does and entices you to engage in continual improvement and standardization. But, of course, capturing such long-term philosophy is always easier said than done. It is also harder to pull off than finding quick fixes to problems of sub-optimal productivity.
So, develop a deeper understanding of the value your offerings have. Then, let consumer demand dictate your approach and pace. Then, based on the acquired insights, you need to make timely, educated decisions. Moreover, identify and deal with bottlenecks and inefficiencies such as unnecessary work, scope creep, lack of stakeholder commitment, poor communication, and overblown inventory costs.
Heed the principles of Agile, which lays the groundwork for incremental, gradual progress and growth. Once you grasp the basics, you can opt for another, specific type of lean management. Three major iterations to consider are the Deming Cycle, Six Sigma, and Kanban. They all have pros and cons you would be wise to weigh. That is to say that you should take your time and do your homework. Then, synchronize and coordinate steps and streamline sequences of business processes.
Lean is conducive to business success across industry sectors. As it turns out, it translates exceptionally well even to fields that have little in common with manufacturing. In its essence, it represents an ongoing effort to minimize time and resource waste and ensure peak productivity. But, first, make sure the methodology suits your specific business needs and ever-changing industry requirements to get the ball rolling.
Then, map the value stream in its current state and optimize the flow to tie up different project stages. Then, get ready to alter production swiftly, as per peaks and valleys of demand. All your efforts are bound to yield results and rewards. Leverage lean agile project management to provide more excellent value to the customer, empower the team, and refine the workflow. It’s a win-win!