Lean Project Management: Get back to basics to avoid waste

Created in Japan, more specifically inside the Toyota factories, lean project management, lean manufacturing or the Toyota production system has the customary objectivity characteristic of Japanese efficiency.

So we’ve summed up its objectives in 7 wastes which you should avoid.

Over time, many users have improved, adapted and even romanticized this idea.

Today, the amount of lean variations employed in companies ranges from creating startups to managing product development projects.

How about we take a dip into the past and remember what optimizations and improvements lean manufacturing sought to implement in the company that gave rise to lean project management?

Know more: Guide: Improving Performance with Lean

The 7 wastes to avoid in lean project management

The ​​lean manufacturing idea, the origin of lean design, was created by the engineer Taiichi Ohno, when the reconstruction of Japan after World War II required efficiency and the optimum use of resources.

Ohno culminated his teachings in these 7 items that you must observe for lean project management to succeed.

Even Eric Reis, with his innovative ideas about lean startup, came to drink from this abundant source.

Therefore, it’s important to remember these concepts, which are so widespread and employed in the present day, but not always perceived as templates and boards full of post-its.

If you’re accustomed to doing process modeling, you will recognize much of what we are going to talk about next.

1- Delays

The well-known bottleneck concept generates delays for products, components, services, authorizations or information that didn’t arrive in time to keep the process flowing in its proper tempo. You should avoid this at all costs.

Any kind of unnecessary delay will generate further delays and cost increases, harming a lean project.

2- Defects

The detection of defects and the discovery of their causes are fundamental. One technique used at the time was the famous Ishikawa diagram and the 5 whys.

Today, you can still use these tools for discovering the true origins of non-conformities in lean projects.

Check out: The 5 whys method in search of quality

3- Transport

It’s very important to find ways to avoid as much as possible the need to transport a lean project.

In addition to cost, risks and delays, the environmental factor has also been pressuring companies to seek local suppliers or locate themselves nearer to the production centers of their largest inputs, among other measures.

Also see: Lean canvas business model: for startups and large businesses

4- Movement

In a production line or even in the provision of services, unnecessary movements increase the time to perform tasks.

Unless it adds some value to the product or service, you should avoid movement.

For example: keeping food in a freezer entails moving these ingredients to the kitchen of a restaurant, but this movement is necessary for the good quality of the meals you serve.

5- Excess inventory

This, undoubtedly, was one of the greatest results of the methodology and organizations use it in lean project management to this date.

Warehousing costs are huge, involving the maintenance of large areas, security, insurance payments, risk of loss and, in the end, results in wasted capital, which you should be using elsewhere.

Read more: Are Lean and Kanban boards the same thing? After all, what’s the difference?

6- Overproduction

It is overproduction that leads to excess inventory to begin with.

In addition, some products are perishable and production beyond what can be sold will lead to huge losses.

Also see: Don’t confuse them anymore: Agile, Scrum and Kanban

7- Unnecessary processing

You have determined that you need to pack your product in a 300-ounce carton and seal it with a single, ordinary adhesive tape.

Imagine that by mistake someone wraps this product in tissue paper, then places it in the carton and finally seals the carton with silver tape, to avoid damage or theft.

If you deemed the process safe, why add these extra costs? This is called unnecessary processing or super-processing.

As you’ve seen, lean project management that builds on these 7 items will surely avoid a lot of unnecessary waste.

Check out this infographic representing each of the wastes you should avoid in lean project management:

Source: Lean manufacturing tools


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