Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Planning is the Key to Success to Implementing Lean

Lean is a philosophy that is based on continuous improvement, the simplification and standardization of business processes, and the elimination of all forms of waste throughout the organization. Implementing Lean techniques can help companies to improve their operational performance and customer responsiveness and drive positive results to the bottom line.

Companies that are new to implementing Lean often times start with taking small steps, sometimes as a trial to test the process. Once they realize the early benefits of using Lean techniques they get more aggressive with their strategy and expand the program throughout the organization. The basic steps to developing the Lean plan are:

  • Review and assess Lean readiness within the organization
  • Identify the readiness issues that must be addressed to make Lean successful
  • Develop aLean strategy and metrics that will be used to guide the Lean implementation
  • Analyze and prioritize improvement opportunities
  • Provide overall Lean education and training, including change management
  • Develop a plan of action for implementing the improvement opportunities

Engaging top management is vitally important to facilitate the adoption of Lean philosophies and technologies. In order to get and sustain buy in from top management, it is important to make them realize that adopting Lean tools and concepts will help assure the long term viability of the company.

Benefits of implementing a well planned Lean effort are:

  • Alignment of operations and corporate strategy
  • Clear enterprise-wide communication
  • Increased throughput on the shop floor and front office
  • Reduced costs by the elimination of wastes
  • Increased flexibility in satisfying changing customer demands

As the famous adage goes “it is easier said than done”, companies face challenges in implementing Lean concepts. Having a systemic approach to the implementation, incorporating education at all levels along the way and focusing on change management will help assure success in the adoption of Lean tools and concepts.

Are you Best-in-Class?