Lean efforts are not limited to manufacturing; a lean mindset applies to any process.
- Unfortunately, processes usually do contain waste, some more than others.
- Lean techniques can be used to reduce waste and add value to processes in the office, in maintenance, and even in sales and R&D.
- In some cases, the impact of a lean approach in the office can be even more dramatic than in manufacturing processes.
The Lean Office
- Applying lean concepts to office processes can:
- Reduce the overall cycle time to process paperwork by 90%
- Reduce work in process (stacks of paperwork) by 90%
- Reduce paperwork errors by 50%
- Reduce needed floor space by 75%
- While PM and TPM are obvious components of a lean maintenance approach, many lean tools and techniques can be used to establish a lean maintenance function.
- Workflow analysis can lead to simplifying maintenance workflows and streamlining layouts of maintenance work areas much like manufacturing work cells.
- A lean maintenance effort can lead to better equipment reliability, less equipment downtime, faster repair times, and overall, lower maintenance costs.
- When mapping the sales process, look for differences from sales person to sales person. Identify best practices as the basis for the future state.
- Look for disconnects, multiple handoffs, and redundancies. These are sources of waste.
- Consider beneficial technology such as automated contact management software and customer relationship management software for the future state. Automating the process saves time, helps maintain a standardized approach, and eliminates opportunities for human error.
- Much like sales, applying lean practices to R&D may seem counter to time honored beliefs. After all, how do you map innovation and standardize development practices?
- However, systematizing and standardizing basic R&D protocols can substantially speed the development process. Researchers can focus on innovation and customer requirements instead of wasting time and energy thinking through support processes.
Lean and Six Sigma
- Lean and Six Sigma are complementary philosophies.
- The difference in Lean and Six Sigma lie primarily in the focus. The elimination of waste with Lean is fairly similar to the reduction of variation in Six Sigma. However, Lean’s focus on improving workflows is perhaps the main differentiator. By focusing on the workflows, lean efforts ensure that non-value-adding aspects are removed from the value stream.
- Lean efforts help make sure that we are doing the right things. Six Sigma initiatives help make sure we are doing the right things right.