Eliminating waste in projects can help you achieve success more easily and increase productivity.
In project management, when projects become complex, cycle times become longer, resulting in several possible wastes.
If left uncontrolled, this waste can undermine not only the project, but also the entire company.
Types of waste in projects
To understand how to eliminate waste in projects and thus ultimately generate an improvement, it is essential to understand the types of waste that can arise. The most common are:
- Transport: startup processes and deliveries can often get too slow and tricky.
- Inventory: if work is not evenly distributed, production can be halted.
- Motion/Waiting – Simple actions such as moving from one department to another, as well as from one desk to another, can also play a role in wasting time. Waiting for colleagues, vendors, etc. can be just as time-consuming.
- Overprocessing/Overproduction: How much time should be spent on each production stage? Are some stages really necessary? Overprocessing, in the sense of doing something better than necessary, can lead to delays. Also, if you deliver more than requested or even get to deliver something that wasn’t asked for, you will end up with waste.
- Defects: Variations or defects in production can lead to loss of profit and waste build-up.
- Talent: talent wasted on meaningless work is not the best way to achieve an optimal process. Employee skills must be put to good use.
These are the areas that any successful Project Manager must never lose sight of.
Introduction to lean management
Each project involves different tasks and activities that each require different tools and resources to be completed successfully.
Some tools and resources, however, do not add any value to the project, thus resulting in significant waste.
Lean management in projects uses lean techniques that help organizations maximize value and minimize waste, thereby improving product/solution quality, customer satisfaction, and project margin.
By leveraging lean principles, organizations are able to understand the value that each tool and resource provides to the project, allowing them to embrace continuous improvement to maximize productivity and efficiency.
Lean project management benefits
Focusing on efficiency, continuous improvement and quality, lean management, or lean project management is becoming increasingly popular in many industries.
Here are some benefits of this methodology:
- Improved quality: Through continuous improvements, lean project management establishes the foundations for better quality. Through small, incremental changes, you can identify, resolve, and eliminate waste in your project, constantly working to improve efficiency and quality.
- Shortened completion time: lean project management helps project teams reduce cycle times. Faster feedback means teams can work on high-priority tasks first and cut down on completion times, while increasing customer satisfaction.
- Reduced costs: lean management focuses on productivity and efficiency, thus reducing project time, reducing inventory and eliminating errors. By improving quality, less defective products are produced, thereby reducing costs.
- Increased value: Lean project management helps to understand the real value of different tasks and activities, especially from the customer’s perspective. This helps teams to quickly pinpoint waste and ensure that all non-value-added activities, hence waste, are destined for removal.
- Waste elimination: by constantly monitoring each activity throughout the project lifecycle and focusing on reducing non-value-added activities, lean project management helps eliminate waste faster. This elimination not only streamlines the project flow, but also helps ensure that the product or service reaches the customer faster, without interruptions, detours or delays.
Eliminating waste in projects: Lean management key principles
Lean project management focuses on 5 core principles, which are:
- Identifying value for the customer. The starting point is to acknowledge that only a small portion of the total time and effort in any organization actually adds value for the end customer. As a result, all worthless activities – or waste – can qualify for removal.
- Pinpoint the value stream and address non-value generating activities. This stage involves identifying all steps in the value stream for each product family, eliminating those that do not create value when possible. The value stream is the entire series of activities in all parts of the organization involved in the joint delivery of the product or service. Having understood what the customer wants, the next step is to identify how to deliver what they need in the most efficient way possible.
- Create the value stream by eliminating waste. This means making sure that the value creation steps happen sequentially so that the product flows smoothly to the customer. Eliminating waste ensures that the product or service “flows” to the customer without interruption, deviation or waiting.
- The value stream must be indicated by the customer. When flow is brought into place, you should enable customers to gain value from the following upstream activity. This is all about understanding the customer’s demand for the service and then creating the process accordingly. This should be done in a way that produces only what the customer wants when the customer wants it.
- Pursuing perfection through constant improvement. After having recognized the value streams and removed waste, the process begins again and continues until it reaches a state of perfection where perfect value is created without any waste. As this happens, more and more layers of waste become clear and the process continues toward the theoretical endpoint of perfection where every good and every action adds value for the end customer.
Therefore, lean management is an endless process with the aim of achieving perfection.
Therefore, lean methodology can be a go-to strategy to eliminate waste in projects and achieve success through improved efficiency and quality.