Lean & Compliance

Despite the acclaim it has garnered in various industries, most notably the manufacturing industry, lean hasn’t been openly welcomed in the construction industry. There seems to be strong resistance to making use of lean principles in the industry.

That is not to say that it hasn’t been used at all though. In fact, many recognize its ability to ensure that construction companies remain competitive in a rapidly growing and changing field of work.

Additionally, lean’s promise to bring several benefits to construction companies (including its ability to reduce costs, increase safety and compliance, ensure customer satisfaction, and higher the quality of construction) has been noted several times, for example, in a case study presented by David MacNeel of Baker Concrete. Yet, some are still not convinced that they should implement it.

Here we will discuss how lean affects compliance, to further show how lean can be beneficial to the construction industry.

The Impact of Lean Construction on Compliance

Lean, a specific method of designing the construction process, has fueled many debates in the construction industry. The method changes the way you organize your site and the way your building process unfolds. This makes many people wary of adopting it because they’re hesitant to change their practices.

However, as mentioned, lean construction has had many notable positive impacts on projects in which it has been used. But how does lean impact compliance specifically? Well, the short and easy answer is that it impacts it in many ways that are beneficial to construction industry projects. But, for the purpose of convincing you to make use of lean, let’s dig a little deeper.

Here are the impacts of lean construction on compliance.

Emphasizes Compliance While Giving Room For Innovation

One of the ways that lean affects compliance is that it effectively increases worker compliance on site. This is done through incentivizing. Using lean allows you to provide your workers with the opportunity to innovate - as long as they comply with the standard first.

You can do this by including this incentivization in your work structure. It will enable a cycle within your work structure that flows like this:

First, workers comply with the standard. Next, if they find a better way to do something while complying with the standard, their suggestion will become part of the following standard process. Lastly, you can publicly commend them for innovating the process.

By incentivizing compliance in this way, your compliance will drastically improve along with productivity.

Collaboration Improves Alignment With CoS

In every construction project, conditions of satisfaction (CoS) are a critical component of the contract. In fact, the CoS of the project will determine the success or failure of your team. Examples of CoS may be to ensure that everyone is profitable or to complete the project in the amount of time that was stipulated at the beginning of the project.

Using lean improves compliance with the CoS, which, clearly, is imperative for the success of the project as a whole. Lean contributes in two main ways. First, it promotes increased collaboration in teams. Consequently, there will be better decision making, and decision making will be more closely aligned to the CoS. This means closer compliance with the CoS.

The other way lean ensures compliance with the CoS is that it encourages regular reviews. In each review, the team is able to measure its progress against the CoS. So, they will notice if the two are not aligned, and they can change things as they need to.

Strong Performance Management

It’s very easy to overlook compliance issues on larger projects. This is because there are multiple activities happening on-site at any given time, and this makes it difficult for managers and on-the-ground staff to get a clear picture of what is going on and what progress is so far.

With lean, however, there are performance and risk management systems in place that increase the transparency of the project and its progress. It incorporates the task of measuring compliance into these systems so that you can constantly track it. What this means is that compliance will never fall by the wayside. This is also ensured due to the regular meetings to review the progress, and thus the compliance, of the project.

Safety Goes Beyond Compliance

Of course, as lean increases compliance, it increases the overall safety compliance of the project as well. We can’t ignore the importance and relevance of this. However, there is another level at which lean improves construction safety.

We mentioned earlier that lean improves compliance by incentivizing workers to comply in hopes of being able to innovate and improve processes. Well, this also applies to health and safety. Workers comply with construction safety regulations and rules, and, in the process, find better ways of ensuring safety management.

Better Task Performance

A common practice, when using lean, is to use compliance with the standard in a current task as a measure against which compliance with the standard in subsequent tasks is judged. In this way, construction companies can improve task performance.

In other words, companies can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their task performance by using the practice of measuring their compliance with the standard in one task against the compliance with the standard in the next task.

By doing this, they will see when there are issues and they can investigate why these problems occur. This will enable them to fix the issue quickly (by bettering compliance or changing the standard).

Final Thoughts

As you can see, using lean has many ways of improving compliance on any given construction industry project. And, it would be difficult to argue against these benefits since compliance is such an imperative part of the success, effectiveness, and efficiency of projects.

Even knowing this, many will still reject lean on the grounds that it takes “too much time and effort” to use this method for construction. However, it doesn’t need to be a complex process of implementation. With construction compliance software such as SkillSignal, using lean can be much simpler. So, ensure compliance by implementing lean and SkillSignal today!


  1. Leanconstruction.org - TDC Book

  2. McKinsey & Company - Lean Construction (Article)

  3. Industry Week - Lean Safety: It’s About More Than Compliance (Article)

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