‘Lean’ philosophy was coined by Womack and Jones in their 1990’s best-seller ‘The machine that changed the world: the story of Lean Production’. The philosophy necessitates understanding customer requirements and then designing matching services. It helps with the identification of a ‘waste’ process, thereby helping to improve service and reduce costs.
Employing Lean philosophy in your business: The Lean process identifies waste in a business’s work-flow that it wants to eliminate – for eg, eliminate defects, overprotection, transportation, waiting, inventory, motion and over-processing.
Consequently then, lean assumes significance for a new or small business where resources are limited and the need to maximize is constantly felt. Remember though that lean is a ‘way of life’ and hence, should not be seen as a project.
Here’s how you can go about it:
• Define the Value Offering to the Client:
The first step is to identify the specific value that is being offered to the end customer. In other words, define the exact requirement of your client and put it forth in front of the team that has been chosen to execute the services. For better understanding, let us take an imaginary business ABCD that say, specializes in digital marketing services. As soon as ABCD closes a deal with a client, it should make a list of all the deliverables/value-offerings that it is expected to deliver to the client as per the contract. This list should then be shared with the team that has been formed to service the client.
• Identify all the Steps in the Delivery Process:
The next step is to identify all the steps/processes that are required for each deliverable.
• Start with how the process moves currently
• Identify the non-value added steps, or in other words, the wastes that are there in the existing process. This is in order to eliminate wherever possible those steps that do not create value.
• Draw a corrective plan or a standard operating procedure after eliminating the non-value added steps. You will see that your delivery process looks much stream-lined, i.e., leaner now
• Communicate with the team the new process plan and take in their buy-in for the necessary changes. Going back to our example, if the digital media team at ABCD has to provide regular content for numerous social-media platforms to a client, after this stage of identifying non-value added steps, it should now be able to identify those people/process in the delivery flow that were causing latency in the delivery of a service. Hence, it should be able to eliminate that process of sending a document for multiple stages of approvals that was the cause of delay and last-minute changes. Identifying the right ‘stake-holders’ in the writing-approval-uploading process will thereby streamline the content management of this agency
• Tighten the Stream-lined Process:
Now that you have stream-lined the process, ensure that it stays that way by building in-built control mechanisms. Thus, the content team at ABCD should be given their own set of responsibilities and authority to ensure that every step in their content delivery occur in a tight sequence so the service flows smoothly toward the customer.
• Pass the Benefit to the Customer:
You will now be in a state to pass the benefit to the customers – a more stream-lined process with minimal defects and rework thereby saving time and money of both parties concerned
• Create the Perfect Process:
Repeat the above 4 steps across all your clients or processes in order to reach a state of perfection in which perfect value is created with no waste. Periodically review the process’s functioning in order to ensure that lean stays lean and has not become latent anywhere in the chain.