With the availability of automation tools and profound knowledge resources, it’s time for the world of projects to reap the benefits that Lean methodology has achieved for manufacturing minimum waste and maximum value. When the need for profitability is clear, why not simplify the path to attaining it? That’s when Lean Project Management steps in - an Agile methodology with the principles to help deliver more value to your customers while minimizing waste for the business. 

The following article explores lean project management principles, their benefits, how software can help in lean environments, the tools you must adopt, and other critical gems of knowledge related to lean project management. 

What Are the Benefits of Lean Project Management?

Lean project management has established the following benefits for a wide range of industries:

  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Greater visibility into the manufacturing process
  • Provides more control and empowers teams
  • Enables better decision-making 
  • Boosts morale and productivity
  • Grants alternative ways to bring out deliverables
  • Faster project deliveries as fewer issues have to be addressed
  • Boosts profits as waste are reduced

Organizations that have employed lean project management reap these benefits. Consequently, they have more funds to invest in tools, workers, and equipment. 

Origin of Project Management Methodology 

Lean methodology drew its inspiration from the Japanese engineers at Toyota, who invented the TPS or Toyota Production System between 1948-1975. The TPS aimed at improving manufacturing while eliminating waste. 

It was in 1988 that John Krafcik taught the lean approach to project management. He authored “Triumph of the Lean Production System” for his thesis at MIT Sloan School of Management. Later, his research became a best-selling book, “The Machine That Changed the World.” 

5 Principles of Lean Project Management

Codified by the Lean Enterprises Institute (LEI) in 1997, the following five principles of lean project management act as steps to reach exceptional customer satisfaction. Adopt them to strike the best chance of minimizing product waste, meeting crucial success factors, and staying within the project scope. 

1. Identify Value

Your customer, client, or stakeholder defines value. It can be the quality, price point or timeline of your deliverable. Often, it is a blend of the three aspects. Effective lean project management demands knowledge of what requirements you need and what expectations to meet.

2. Map Value Stream

Once you have defined value, you will map all the processes and steps in your manufacturing cycle. This sequence of steps is termed value stream in lean project management. Project managers must recognize every action necessary for the project, including ideation, design, production, admin, HR and more. Drawing a value stream map helps illustrate the flow of resources.

3. Create Continuous Flow

It is critical to ensure that no points exist that can potentially create bottlenecks or disrupt production. As per LEI, it is essential to make the value stream steps occur in appropriate sequence to ensure a continuous flow of services or products toward the customer. Creating continuous flow might require cross-functional teams; however, it brings forth greater productivity.

4. Establish Pull System

Pull relates to the time when the stakeholder, customer, or client pulls the product/service from the project. Improvements in the previous steps result in a faster time-to-market. The importance of the pull system is that there is no stockpiling or warehousing. Thus, this lean project management principle helps save money for the business and keeps your workflow moving efficiently. 

5. Seek Perfection

You must understand that lean project management isn’t a one-time process; it is iterative. The fifth principle requires you to strive for perfection while making continuous improvements to your workflow. It involves spreading the philosophy throughout your business so that every team member attempts to better themselves and the processes they participate in. 

What Is Lean Program Management?

Organizations typically will not find projects occurring neatly, one after another. Practically, a project manager is responsible for overseeing several projects. The term portfolio describes a lot of projects, while the term program is used for several related projects. So, the five lean project management principles can also be applied to program management. 

When you scan your projects in a program via the lens of lean program management, you will be able to spot sites of waste among the projects. You can pinpoint the value and assist all the projects in a simultaneous better flow.

How Does Project Management Software Help With Lean Project Management?

Mapping the value stream can be done with pen and paper but employing project management software enables you to find and effectively eliminate waste. Several cloud-based software present real-time data and allow teams to connect for better decision-making.

Creating Project Plans

To be able to find value and remove waste, you must have access to see the entire project in one place. Project management software allows project managers to view all the tasks. You can easily determine what is unnecessary and what’s essential to be followed. Their online Gantt chart enables you to map the project, identify task dependencies, and eliminate the causes of bottlenecks. Some software also provides effective filters that help avoid steps that are not adding value.

Ensuring Flexible Workflows on Kanban Boards

Lean project management demands transparency and the dynamic kanban boards on project management software allow project managers a window into the production cycle. It enables teams to manage their backlog and plan their work execution process. The features of commenting, and getting notifications on email or in the app for an update to work, further simplify access to flexible workflows. 

Balancing Your Team’s Workload 

Project management software presents several resource management features that provide insights into your team’s assignments. You can easily monitor which team member has too many or too few assignments. You can reallocate tasks from the tool and keep your team from burning out. 

Ensuring Efficiency With Dashboards

Project management software assists lean project management through its ability to generate reports based on performance. Moreover, project managers get a high-level view from their real-time dashboard. Quick insights into massive information further augment the process of adding value and reducing waste generation. 

Lean Project Management Tools

The following lean project management tools help improve product development workflow with continuous improvement.  

Deming cycle (PDCA)

Dr W. Edwards Deming proposed the Deming Cycle in the 1950s. It is also called PDCA or Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle. These four steps imply: 

  • Plan: Study your workflow and investigate problems that require solutions.
  • Do: Find solutions to the issues by thoroughly analyzing data or collaborating with the team. 
  • Check: Inspect whether your solutions are effective and adopt further improvements if needed.
  • Act: Apply improved solutions and evaluate what you have learned.

Lean Six Sigma Project Management (DMEDI)

Lean Six Sigma is an efficient lean management tool to help identify problems in your workflow. The Lean Six Sigma steps are called DMEDI, which stands for: 

  • Define: Plan goals and define your project scope
  • Measure: Decide how you will evaluate success in your project
  • Explore: Try new ways to improve the project process
  • Develop: Formulate a fool-proof project plan
  • Implement: Execute the project plan

Some popular methods of analysis you can use with Lean Six Sigma include value stream mapping, customer feedback surveys, Gantt charts, Root cause analysis (RCA), and Kanban.

Why Is Lean Management Important?

Lean project management has the potential to improve product value by streamlining processes. The following reasons will help you understand why lean management is so important to match your pace with today’s world:

  • Increased innovation: It sparks creativity that improves the project.
  • Reduced waste: Besides physical waste, it reduces waiting times between production steps. It also minimizes over-processing. 
  • Enhanced customer service: Lean project management provides what the customer needs. It doesn’t aim for more or less.
  • Higher quality products: Reduces product defects by incorporating quality checks. 
  • Efficient project teams: Adopting lean thinking simplifies work processes and establishes a more robust project team. 
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While companies might work hard to procure high-quality products and satisfy their customers, lean project management makes achieving these goals swifter by cleaning up production and eliminating bottlenecks.

Master the skills to boost productivity and streamline your processes while adding value and reducing waste, just as lean project management mandates. Enroll on the Lean Management Certification course crafted by industry experts. Learn the principles and critical concepts of Lean management. Streamline your operations and uplevel your career by driving the best value for your business!

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