You may have heard of lean management a few times in business school or the workforce. Companies have been using lean management principles for a long time and continue to perfect the lean management methodology. However, if you haven’t directly studied it or been in a company that uses lean management throughout its operations, you may not know exactly what it is.
Altogether, lean management is simple when it comes to business management methodologies. Once you know the underlying principles, you’ll see how easy it can be to implement in any business.
Here is what you need to know about the lean project management methodology and how to earn a Lean Six Sigma certification to boost your career.
What Is Lean Management?
Lean management is a method of running a business where stakeholders try to remove any task or process that does not create value. By removing this waste from the company’s operations, the company sees improved productivity, cost management, and quality control. In many cases, it can also mean higher job satisfaction for workers.
Companies adopt lean project management principles because it allows them to optimize the company for success. Less waste often leads to wider profit margins, which make a company more successful in good times and more resilient in hard times.
Can Any Company Adopt a Lean Process Management Method?
While some management methodologies are designed for enterprise-level organizations, the lean management methodology can be adopted by any company. In many respects, it is the default way companies try to run. That is especially true for startups and small businesses that don’t have extra resources to waste.
The size of the company is not essential to this methodology. You can implement a lean management methodology across the entire company. And as long as everyone in the company works toward a lean management system, it still works.
The complexity of the company also doesn’t matter. Even the most complex multinational enterprises can benefit from adopting this system. It may even help resolve some of that complexity and help the company run more efficiently.
Lean Management Principles
Lean project management principles are simple, and there are only five. When adopting the methodology, address each one to get the best results. Here are the five principles of lean management.
#1. Identify Value
Lean management always begins with identifying value. That just means finding the parts and processes in your business that create value. In this case, resting value means that a particular process takes the company closer to providing value to customers.
In retail, for example, this could be anything from ordering products to identifying which products customers want. However, keeping inventory that does not always sell in stock does not create value.
Before you can do anything to improve how the company works, you have to know which parts add value and are worth keeping. Then, you can see where you can remove different processes to make the business work more efficiently.
#2. Value Stream Mapping
The next step is to identify the overall process that creates customer value. This usually means creating a step-by-step value stream map showing how the company creates value.
This is important because it shows how valuable parts of the business work together to deliver that value. In some cases, this may mean that steps in the process that you thought were not valuable provide some value rather than just to the customer.
Value mapping can also show where processes you thought added value might not be as valuable as you thought. By knowing the process of creating value, you can ensure that any changes made don’t stop the company from doing what it needs to do to keep customers happy.
#3. Create a Continuous Workflow
When the value map is complete, the company can work on creating a continuous workflow. Workflows are always tricky to manage since things need to happen in a precise order to have positive results. Your goal at this point is to create a workflow where there are no pinch points in the process that slow things down.
Essentially, you are trying to make everything run smoothly from start to finish. Look for any areas in the process that create problems or take longer than they should. Finding processes that create time waste and making changes can make overall operations much smoother.
#4. Create a Pull System
A pull system is designed to allocate work based on demand. This means that operations within the company only work on the services or products that are needed at the time and stop working when the demand for them drops.
Pull systems help optimize the use of resources and energy within the company. Companies can reduce waste and reduce production costs by focusing on where the demand is.
#5. Continuous Improvement
Finally, lean management is a continuous system of improvement. Companies can continually improve optimization, so you should always look for new ways to improve performance.
This means creating a system to review performance regularly. Most companies have designated people to review performance metrics and look for new improvement methods. This is especially important when companies and industries go through major changes.
Common Challenges When Implementing Lean Project Management
Lean management is a relatively straightforward management process. However, it can face considerable challenges when being implemented.
One of the biggest challenges in implementing lean project management is from other staff within the company. Changing how a company runs is challenging since it involves retraining, removing, or firing staff because their current roles are made redundant. As you improve productivity throughout the company, the workers must adapt to changes that may not be needed.
If you are trying to implement lean management but are not the CEO, you could face significant pushback from above. People are skeptical of changes to a system that seems to work, and managers won’t want to take action unless they are sure those changes will improve things. When developing lean management for your company, you’ll need to find a way to show management that those changes can make a big difference.
Learn How to Apply Lean Management to Your Business
Businesses of all sizes apply lean management principles to create better value and eliminate waste. They are looking for certified professionals who can implement them at all levels of the organization. If you want to boost your career, whether you are a designated project manager or a team leader at any level, gaining certification from a comprehensive online Lean Six Sigma course will help you do so. This six-month post graduate program from Simplilearn, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts, will help you hone your skills in lean project management through live online classes and real-world, industry-relevant projects.