Implementing Lean Processes Within Your Business
Lean operations, in the simplest terms, is the means of running a business that focuses on creating the highest quality products and services by only using resources that add value to the end result.
Here are some steps you can take to start applying lean processes to your business:
1. Document every process in your business.
Get your whiteboard ready and start by listing out every single process your business uses, both internally and externally, along with the steps that make up those processes. This may take some time upfront, but it is crucial to identify any potential inefficiencies that lie within your business.
2. Remove any step in the process that does not add value to the end product.
After you have all of your processes listed out, choose one to focus on first. Start at the beginning of the process and highlight the steps that ultimately add value to the end product. At the end of the exercise, if there are steps within the process that were not highlighted, it is likely that these steps are taking up unnecessary time and energy from your team. This is referred to as “waste” and should be eliminated from the process moving forward. Repeat this exercise with the remaining processes that you listed out in Step #1.
3. Document the updated processes.
Once you have identified and eliminated the waste within each of your processes, take the time to document the improved process for each one and save them in a place that everyone in the company has access to, such as an internal database. This ensures that everyone is following the process moving forward and can easily reference them if needed. You may want to roll out the new processes to your team in the form of a company-wide meeting as well so that they are given the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback.
4. Record your savings.
Now it’s time for the fun part! After your updated processes have been fully implemented within your company, start tracking and recording the resource savings from them. To do this, set up a spreadsheet to capture the difference in required resources between your old processes versus the new lean processes. You will be amazed at how efficient, energized, and productive your team has become after adopting these new lean processes.
While these steps are simply skimming the surface of the principles of lean operations, they are a great way to ensure that your resources are being used most efficiently, while still achieving the highest quality product. I challenge you to apply this exercise to your current business operations to discover possible areas of improvement, and don’t forget to record your resource savings!