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Lean Project Management and Lean Methodology

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Lean Project Management and Lean Methodology

Lean project management covers a wide spectrum of concepts such as lean manufacturing, lean thinking, lean construction, etc. Basically lean methodology or lean production focuses on eliminating waste and other processes which are not adding value to the production. Although this philosophy was developed in the Toyota Production System, many projects in various industries use lean tools and techniques to improve their processes. Many industries such as software, healthcare, finance, construction, business, defense, etc. may gain the same kind of benefits that lean has achieved for manufacturing. In this article, we will discuss benefits of lean project management methodology to the organizations.



Main Principles of the Lean Project Management and Lean Methodology

Most of the projects are behind the schedule and/or over budget. Lean project management establishes a system to analyze all the activities throughout the entire project life cycle. Understanding each activity and process helps to identify waste and non-value-added processes. The keystone of Lean methodology is to improve profit and customer satisfaction by maximizing value and minimizing waste. Lean project management methods include Kanban, Lean Six Sigma, Deming Cycle for continuously improving the process.

Recommended Article: What is Lean Six Sigma Methodology?

3M’s (Muda, Mura, Muri) in Lean Manufacturing



Muda, Mura, and Muri are the 3M’s widely used in the Toyota Production System and later on the concept of Lean to describe wasteful practices to be eliminated.

Muda (無駄): is the wastefulness, uselessness, non-value-adding work. The term “Muda” covers seven types of wastes. Below are the seven Muda’s

  • Transport
  • Inventory
  • Motion
  • Waiting
  • Over-Processing
  • Overproduction
  • Defects

Mura (斑): is unevenness. Mura is the root cause of Muda. Because unevenness and irregularity cause wastes.

Muri (無理) : is overburden. Muri is overloading equipment and overusing workforce beyond their limits. Muri may be a result of Mura.

It is not very easy to identify all the wastes in the working environment. This increases the potential of risks arises. Elimination of waste is the main purpose of lean.

Lean Thinking

Before to discuss the basics of the lean project management, let’s take a look at the lean thinking concept.



Lean thinking aims to create a continuous value stream by using the project resources effectively, reducing wastes and ensuring customer satisfaction. James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones are the founders of the Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI). They recommend five principles in their book: Lean Thinking: Banish Waste and Create Wealth in Your Corporation to help organizations achieve success.

Lean thinking was born in the manufacturing industry and influenced other industries like software, healthcare, construction because lean is an approach that affects everything an organization does.

Main Principles of Lean Thinking

Lean thinking has an important place in lean project management. Womack and Daniel T. Jones defined the five basic principles of lean thinking in their book “The Machine That Changed the World” in 1990. 

These principles are;

  • Value (Identify Value): The first principle is understanding the value of a product from the customer’s point of view. The organization must understand what value the customer places upon their products and services. Determination of the value is based on the customer’s needs for the product.
  • Value Stream (Map the Value Stream): Value stream is the entire flow up the products life cycle from raw materials through to the customer’s use. Creating a value stream map using visualization techniques, diagrams and charts are helpful to demonstrate the sequence of activities required to deliver the end product.



  • Flow (Creat Flow): The Main goal of this step is to improve the value stream and ensure that the value stream flows. Waste should be removed from the flow of the value stream. If the value stream stops at any point, waste may occur.
  • Pull (Establish a Pull Approach): If the flow of the value stream is improved, time to customer can be improved. Pull principle helps to be sure that nothing is made ahead of time. In traditional manufacturing, approach products are manufactured based on a schedule or forecast. But in the pull approach, the product is not manufactured until the customer orders it. As a result of this approach, you don’t need to store a large amount of products.
  • Perfection (Seek Perfection): Perfection step is one of the most important steps. The lean system requires continuous improvement and continuous improvement brings perfection because lean is a live process. Lean thinking should be every employee’s business and every process should be involved in lean.

Below figure illustrates the five principles of lean thinking.

 lean project management , benefits of lean project management ,lean thinking manufacturing, production and lean methodology

Benefits of Lean Project Management and Lean Methodology



Lean manufacturing uses fewer resources compared with traditional production or mass production. Human effort, floor space, duration is decreased based on the effective use of lean principles. Below are some benefits of lean project management methodology.

  • Develops a culture of empowerment
  • Reduces manufacturing lead time
  • Standardizes tasks to make project performance improvement
  • Helps to complete the project on time and budget with meeting customer requirements.
  • Reduces costs
  • Reduces inefficiencies and unproductiveness
  • Improves the quality of product
  • Improves customer satisfaction
  • Improves profit margin

Conclusion



Project management processes can be improved by the help of lean principles. A project can be thought as a value stream from the project managers point of view. Then the customer requirements and satisfaction should be specified. The project team members must enhance the working environment by specifying and eliminating wastes in all the processes. Deming Cycle, 5 Why’s, Kaizen, 3M’s can be used to improve the processes for production.

In this article, we discuss the benefits of lean project management methodology. Note that lean is an important concept in project and product management.

External References

“The Machine That Changed the World”  Womack, Daniel T. Jones

See Also

Project Management Methodologies

Agile vs Waterfall

 

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