Lean Processes for Business Projects

Lean Processes are part of a management model designed by TOYOTA for its automobile manufacturing plants during the 70s. The goal was to develop a culture for a more efficient organization through changes in business processes. They reduced costs and times in order to inscrease the speed of response. Nowadays, the most competitive companies in all sectors employ this management system to obtain the best results.

Further reading: Whether you’re looking to improve the company-wide organization or want to get a better handle on development projects, a RACI chart can help improve communication, efficiency, and employee morale

What is Lean Processes?

The core idea is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste. Simply said, lean means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.  To achieve this, you have to enforce four main objectives:

  • improve quality
  • eliminate waste
  • reduce time
  • reduce total costs.

A lean organization understands customer value and focuses its key processes to continuously increase it.

Lean’s Processes objective

The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer, through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste. The lean methodology allows differentiating processes. From those that generate value to those that contribute with what is known as “waste”.  Eliminating waste along entire value streams, instead of at isolated points, creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time. It results in products and services at fewer costs and with much fewer defects, compared with traditional business systems.

Companies are able to respond to changing customer desires with high variety, quality, low cost, and swift through times. Also, information management becomes much simpler and accurate. So the objective is the rapid and constant improvement of the production system, eliminating the waste that generates an increase in costs. This way, it’s possible to increase efficiency.

Using a constant monitoring, measurement and learning logic, it is intended to carry out a proactive intervention to increase the rapid cycles of “test – learning – failure – share information – test”. This way, in Lean philosophy, learning is enhanced. It applies structured forms of work such as periodic meetings to detect and communicate deviations, minimize interruptions, standardize more frequent responses in a customer service channel, etc.

To accomplish this, lean thinking changes the focus of management from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services. The way is through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments to customers.

Lean Processes in the IT Industry

Although the processes were originally applied mainly in production industries, more and more Lean principles are being applied in other sectors. Such are the cases of development of consulting services, IT development, commercial departments, etc. All projects that consist of processes, human resources and materials are susceptible to optimization and implementation of the Lean Project Management.

Obviously, for the philosophy to succeed, it has to be supported internally at all levels within the organization. From the management team to the other collaborators involved. In fact, one of the goals that Lean pursues is for the team to function as a whole. This is done by promoting autonomy, but enhancing the contributions of each element by its optimization within the set. The concern for motivation of the work team, training, the correct understanding of their role in the project and alignment with their personal expectations are important concepts of the lean philosophy. But also, the importance of management of human teams assumes in the efficient development of projects is vital to apply Lean Processes.

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