With its minimal waste plan and maximized efficiency, Lean project management has become popular with many industries over the past few years. This is because Lean tackles several issues and shortcomings in production and ensures an increase in customer satisfaction.
To get a better understanding of this approach, let’s explore what exactly it is and its core principles.
What Is Lean Project Management?
The main focus of Lean project management is to minimize waste and maximize efficiency. Lean is all about working smarter and not harder.
In essence, Lean is about creating more value for the customer with fewer resources. The aim is to think and work from the perspective of the consumer and how to deliver value to them. Lean project management, therefore, makes it easier to see what adds value to a project and what does not. This eliminates waste and ensures that projects deliver more value.
The Lean philosophy is used in many industries such as software development, engineering, the construction industry, and even healthcare. This is because Lean is an easily adaptable project management approach that allows for enhanced efficiency and the elimination of waste.
There are five key principles of Lean thinking that apply to the project management approach. If a project applies these Lean thinking principles, it can be considered a Lean project. But approaches can differ based on how much weight is placed on different principles.
The Benefits Of Lean Project Management
There are many benefits to using Lean in the workplace. One of the main benefits is that there is a reduced lead time on work. You can also expect greater efficiency and productivity along with increased customer satisfaction.
Lean focuses on value from the customers’ perspective which, therefore, cuts down on project waste and optimizes efficiency. Lean is constantly improving the project process to ensure that the end product satisfies all the customers’ needs. You can utilize various management software applications that can help guide your overall project management.
Principles Of Lean Project Management
There are five core principles that apply to Lean project management:
1. Understand or Identify Value
The first principle is about understanding the value of the product or service in the customer's eyes. You can determine how much they value a product or service by how much they are willing to pay for it. Thus, understanding the value of the product or service is the first principle of Lean project management.
2. Map The Value Stream
Value stream mapping details the complete sequence of activities involved with delivering the end-product. Mapping the value stream means using visualization techniques such as Kanban or flowcharts.
This process makes it easy to find any potential problems or unnecessary steps and take them out. It gives you a direct view of the project as a whole. This allows you to see the big picture and find areas where you can cut down waste or improve efficiency.
3. Create A Flow
The next principle is ensuring that the value stream flows. The goal of value stream mapping is to optimize the flow of the whole project. Synchronization is key to optimizing workflow in addition to identifying work that does not add any value.
In this step, it’s important to keep an eye out for potential bottlenecks as these could interrupt the flow of work and halt progress
4. Establish A Pull System
Adopting a pull approach to production allows customer demand to determine production. Therefore, it reduces waste caused by overwork and inventory costs. The pull approach can be challenging but it allows for better prioritization as you don’t start working on something before there is a need to.
5. Pursue Continuous Improvement
The final principle of Lean project management is pursuing continuous improvement. The Sino-Japanese word “kaizen” is adopted for this concept in Lean as it means “improvement”.
Practicing kaizen ensures the optimization of the value stream as well as the improvement or replacement of processes that do not work.
Scrum vs Kanban In Lean Project Management
You might have heard the terms “Scrum” and “Kanban” mentioned along with Lean project management. These are two different approaches to managing work with the aim of enhancing efficiency and delivering value.
Scrum is used mostly in software development but can be applied to other industries. It is an agile process that aims to help the business value in the shortest amount of time. While Scrum does differ from Lean, both approaches emphasize continuous improvement and the reduction of waste.
Kanban is a visual system that aims to improve efficiency in manufacturing. It is a Lean methodology that allows you to visualize your work, improve workflow, increase efficiency, and even assist with your risk management plan.
When implementing Kanban, you identify potential bottlenecks in the workflow. This allows you to fix them before they cause any unwanted delays. Overall, Kanban's primary goal is to optimize the workflow so that it runs more smoothly.
Industries Using Lean Project Management
Since its origins in manufacturing with Toyota, Lean thinking has had a steady hold on the industry. Lean is optimized for an industry like manufacturing, where minimal waste is the goal. The approach enables manufacturing companies to take full advantage of their resources to minimize waste while providing value.
Construction and Engineering
The main principle of Lean (minimal waste with maximized work) can apply to construction and engineering where it is easy to go over budget and use excess resources. This puts less pressure on the workforce to get a project done and optimizes the whole process. Overseeing employee time tracking and other labor expenses can be most effective in managing budgets. SkillSignal also offers various safety software solutions that maintain safety management practices for optimal worksites.
Software development is one of the leading industries that use Lean project management. Along with Agile or Scrum approaches, software developers can constantly make improvements and adjustments. This allows them to ensure that they deliver a product of maximum value to the end-user.
Lean principles have also made their way into marketing and even eBook publishing industries. Using Lean, these industries can use feedback from consumers to improve their products or strategies so that they can deliver better value. This just goes to show how versatile the approach is.
Lean project management has become increasingly popular among many industries. With an emphasis on value, using a Lean approach ensures that you meet the requirements of your customers. This makes it a very useful methodology to cut out things that do not add value, which minimizes waste and improves efficiency at the same time.