benefitsA lean improvement process (also known as lean manufacturing, lean production or simply “lean”) is a systematic method for the elimination of waste within a process. This process focuses on making obvious what adds value by reducing everything else.

This approach consist of various practices that aim to eliminate waste, improve efficiency and deliver quality products and services in the right amount, at the right time and in the right place.

Implementing a lean improvement process in an organization requires the commitment and the efforts of everyone, since it demands a change in the organization’s way of thinking and in its way of doing things. As difficult as this may sound, starting at the right place is the key for not making this process into a “mission impossible” one. The following steps are essential to ensure a successful implementation of lean.

  1. Defining Value

    Value is what customers want and what they are willing to pay for. If the value is not correctly defined, this could result in a decrease of customer satisfaction or in the generation of unnecessary waste.

  2. Identifying the Entire Value Stream

    Organizations need to identify how their processes are being carried out. It’s essential to determine the materials and resources being used, how many people perform each task, where is it done, how long does it take, how people, materials and information move and how it is all connected.

    The purpose of this step is to have a realistic view of the process’s current situation in order to change it.

  3. Eliminating Waste

    Inefficiencies need to be identified. Everything that does not add value needs to be eliminated. Organizations need to find ways to improve those activities that incur in the seven forms of waste.

  4. Letting the Customer Control the Operation

    In order to further reduce waste, an organization needs to produce only what the customer demands. Transforming the process from a push-system into a pull-system is essential to fully implement a lean process.

  5. Monitoring Improvements

    All the actions taken to implement a lean improvement process need to be monitored in order to measure its effectiveness.  Highlight what works and change what doesn’t.

  6. Implementing in a Systematic Way

    Change will not occur overnight. Organizations need to understand that lean is a way of doing business, is not just an activity you do today and then forget about it tomorrow. Lean practices can be implemented by processes in a progressive but continuous manner.

  7. Getting People Involved

    As mentioned above, lean is a way of doing things and things are developed and produced by people. The people involved in a process are the ones that will guarantee the success of the implementation of a lean improvement process in any organization.