What exactly is Lean methodology? It is a concept that aims to, as it is the most effective way to improve business, improve processes. The central idea is to maximize the value added to the customer, at the same time minimizing waste. Lean business process improvement is basically to create more value with fewer resources and costs.
A Lean organization is one that understands the importance of customer value, and that focus its critical processes on increasing it. Lean Business Process Improvement describes the processes as a whole and optimizes them at all.
Also, see Workflow Concept.
Lean Business Process Improvement Techniques
The core thinking of Lean eliminates waste and increase process speed. In doing that, it reduces the time between activities, events, and cycles. So, it’s possible to complete more cycles in a specific amount of time. It is a simple equation. There are 8 types of wastage Lean tries to get rid of:
- Defects – Products or services that are out of specification that requires resources to correct.
- Overproduction – Producing too much of a product before it is ready to be sold. It is very dangerous because it can lead to other kinds of wastages. Produce exactly what the customer/next step requires in the right quantities at the right time.
- Waiting – Waiting for the previous step in the process to complete. If you cannot complete a process or a step because you are waiting for suppliers or someone to finish something, there is little you can do. Although, this is a waste of time and money. It is important to coordinate steps and balance production scheduling.
- Non-Utilized Talent – This was recently discovered and is extremely valid. It is a waste of talent not to utilize the ideas generated by those who use the processes themselves. The ones who work with the process on a daily basis are those that know how to improve it. Listening to them will result in great results and increase morale.
- Transportation – Transporting items or information that are required to perform the process from one location to another is a waste of time. For example, a storage frozen room far away from the restaurant will be an inefficient solution, since it will take time, gas, people, money to transport it every time.
- Inventory – A process can generate good products, but if it does it too fast, the surplus will have to be stored. Storage takes up valuable floor space and requires the use transportation to move the product.
- Motion – People, information or equipment making unnecessary motion due to workspace layout, ergonomic issues or searching for misplaced items. Imagine a cook that is making dinner for 30 people. He will need pans, utensils, and cutlery. If everything is close and organized, the dinner will be out way faster.
- Extra Processing – Performing any activity that is not necessary to produce a functioning product or service. Sometimes the customer does not need a part of the product/service yet we do it anyway. For example, in a coffee shop, the attendants can put lids on the coffees, and the clients immediately remove them to add sugar or drink better. What if you do not put lids in the first place?
Read about process optimization and understand more
Lean Business Process Improvement x Six Sigma
All these can be sounding similar to Six Sigma. It is not, although, the same concept. They are complementary methodologies, and Lean has focused on decreasing the time between activities. The whole point is to optimize and make the cycle smaller and faster, thus making more of the time available. Produce more in the same amount of time causes noticeable costs reduction.
Six Sigma is all about quality control. It also reduces wastage, but the goal is to produce better products/services. With more quality, we have higher client’s satisfaction and loyalty.
Therefore, Lean Six Sigma is the ideal for companies looking to grow. They can create processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time to make products and services at far fewer costs and with much fewer defects, compared with traditional business systems. They can also maintain low prices by reducing costs.