The aim of lean management techniques such as Hoshin planning is to create and drive small but incremental changes to business processes in order to increase the efficiency, quality and/or speed of a product. It’s a long-term strategy that’s far removed from the ‘quick fix’ mindset that defines other process management methods.
Lean management is hinged on a philosophy of continuous improvement. Continuous learning and improvement is especially important in today’s world, where a tiny difference between any two competing products can mean one of them losing a substantial proportion of market share. Here’s a look at the reasons every business should apply a lean management methodology.
Lean techniques automatically get rid of tasks that are of no value to the end product or the customer. These tasks are considered ‘waste’ thus discarded so the organization can devote its time and resources to what matters.
Examples of wasteful activities include capturing data that’ll never be used, manufacturing waste, superfluous production, time spent looking for equipment or waiting for a slow system to respond. Eliminating these tasks naturally raises productivity.
With non-value adding tasks out of the way, the business can focus on harmonizing the remaining activities by removing bottlenecks, delays, and hurdles. Less clutter in the process makes it easier to streamline the entire product lifecycle in order to deliver quality products on time for your customers.
Increased Responsiveness and Flexibility
Streamlined processes help you better recognize and respond to customer demands. Customers can come to you with their needs and, thanks to a lean process, you’ll have the capacity to tweak your workflows in order to align them with customer expectations. Lean management also ensures one can deliver product customization with minimal disruption to the main production line.
Each defective product means time, money and resources down the drain. Second, it necessitates rework and delays. Third, it diminishes customer confidence making them nervous whenever they consider buying your product in the future. Lean management methods are designed to reduce defects and ensure production lines get it right the first time every time.
Better Product Quality
Eliminating defects is one thing, improving product quality is another. Product quality is a longer-term goal but is essential for business success. When a quality question comes up, lean management deploys the problem-solving techniques and tools required to quickly establish the root cause. That triggers corrective mechanisms that prevent a similar quality issue from coming up in the future. The result is a product whose quality improves continuously.
Minimized Lead Times
Today’s market competition is intense. Customers have a wide range of brands to choose from, so it doesn’t take much to see them switch to a competitor. With an established expectation for ‘instant’ service, speed is of the essence. Lean management cuts lead times and puts the end product in the customer’s hands much quicker than traditional methods.
Boosts Staff Morale
Lean management may be centered on the customer experience, but other stakeholders stand to gain too. Lean methodologies automatically break down organizational silos, encourage employee participation and enhance teamwork.
Inefficiency is often apparent and this can be irritating to employees, especially when management doesn’t seem keen on making obvious changes to improve workflows. By soliciting and acting on employee input, businesses can increase staff fulfillment and improve retention rates.
Safer Production Environment
You cannot separate the safety of the work environment from the quality of the end product. If the production environment isn’t safe, it’s unlikely that the end-product will be competitive and of the desired quality. A failure to enforce workplace safety is a sign of complacency. Such complacency will usually permeate the design and delivery of the product itself.
Lean management improves equipment organization, reduces clutter, minimizes waste and therefore gets rid of the factors that increase the risk of workplace accidents.
Grows Your Bottom Line
Businesses exist to make a profit, so this is perhaps the most important reason of all. All the lean management benefits we’ve listed above are ultimately geared toward improving your bottom line.
Smoother operations, increased productivity, greater flexibility, higher responsiveness, lower defects and improved quality all ensure you can deliver more product per unit of production overhead.
Lean management is something every organization can benefit from. If you haven’t already adopted it, it’s time to consider doing so. Your business will certainly be better for it.