lean project management – Definition, Methodology and Frameworks
What is Lean?
The core idea of lean is to maximize customer value while minimizing waste in the process.
A lean organization understands the customer value and focuses on its important processes and improve it by reducing waste. The ultimate goal is to provide perfect value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste.
To achieve this, lean changes the focus to optimizing the flow of products and services through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments to customer rather than optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments etc.
Instead of eliminating waste at isolated points, focusing on eliminating wastes along entire value streams, creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make products and services at far less costs and with much fewer defects, compared with traditional business systems. Companies are able to respond to changing customer desires with high variety, high quality, low cost, and with very fast throughput times.
Lean in Project Management
Lean project management is the application of lean concepts such as lean construction, lean manufacturing and lean thinking to project management.
Lean project management has many ideas in common with other lean concepts; however, the main principle of lean project management is delivering more value to the customers with less waste in a project context.
The concept of the value stream is central to Lean project management. A value stream is the sequence of activities involved in delivering a project with an agreed-upon value (both the inputs and outputs). Value stream mapping, sometimes called business process mapping, is an effort to understand how value and waste are created during the project lifecycle with the goal of optimizing the value stream.
Benefits of Lean in Project Management
The benefits of integrating lean into project management are
- Reduces Waste
- Increases Customer Value
- Empowers cross-functional work teams
- Improves Quality of the Project
- Optimizing the Project life cycle to reduce production times.
Lean can be applied to project methodologies such as Kanban, Lean Six Sigma and Deming Cycle. Lean project management is a long-term strategic commitment that becomes part of every project, while decisions regarding the specific approach to individual projects can be made on a case-by-case basis.
Applying lean in Project Management
As we discussed earlier, lean project management focuses on integrating lean construction, lean manufacturing and lean thinking into project management.
Lean manufacturing involves never ending efforts to eliminate or reduce ‘muda’ (Japanese for waste or any activity that consumes resources without adding value) in design, manufacturing, distribution, and customer service processes.
Lean construction is a combination of operational research and practical development in design and construction with an adaption of lean manufacturing principles and practices to the end-to-end design and construction process. Unlike manufacturing, construction is a project-based production process.
Lean thinking is a term used to describe the process of making business decisions in a Lean way. It’s regarded as the foundation of any Lean practice.
5 Principles of Lean Thinking
- Specify value from the standpoint of the end customer by product family.
- Identify all the steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating whenever possible those steps that do not create value.
- Make the value-creating steps occur in tight sequence so the product will flow smoothly toward the customer.
- As flow is introduced, let customers pull value from the next upstream activity.
- As value is specified, value streams are identified, wasted steps are removed, and flow and pull are introduced, begin the process again and continue it until a state of perfection is reached in which perfect value is created with no waste.