Lean is a systematic method for waste minimization. Lean project management is a practice that focuses on removing the bottleneck in the project planning and execution process to accelerate productivity, which can be beneficial to any project. This type of project management eliminates waste, which is anything that doesn’t add value for the customer. Waste can come from several sources including waste within a manufacturing system, problems that require costly fixes and resource allocation issues. Lean project management addresses these issues to get the project done quickly, cheaply and effectively. Whether you think of lean project management as something that stems from traditional project management or Six Sigma, the core principles remain the same.
Keeping Team Members in the Loop
If the members of your team know why they’re doing what they’re doing and how their performance will be measured, they’ll be better able to deliver the results you need and know when a problem may affect project goals. From there, conflict can be integrated into the development process, letting members address problems within the group instead of letting them drive office politics.
Using Analysis to Identify and Eliminate Bottlenecks
Blaming people for a problem doesn’t get work done, but changing the process to fix the problem will. Analysis needs to factor in heavily throughout the process to quickly identify problems and make an adjustment to eliminate them, especially when it comes to time. This means focusing on delays and any type of task or context switching.
These problems most often crop up around areas where information moves between boundaries, whether it’s between teams, between team members or between the company and the client. Cutting these times can speed up workflow and help identify errors faster so they can be corrected.
Waste isn’t just caused by devoting too many resources to one area, it’s often caused by having too little resources on a project segment, leading to delays and poor performance. Increased resource allocation may increase costs up front, but it can save money and time across the whole process. Analysis can help identify these areas to prevent development bottlenecks.
Within the time of establishing the scope of a project and reaching the project’s completion, there are bound to be some minor changes. When practicing lean project management, broad project goals are determined early on, while details are left open to make sure the completed product delivers the expected value to the customer. Keeping the customer in the loop and staying on top of the development process will give you the information you need to make decisions as they’re needed.
Turning Big Projects into Smaller Ones
By breaking a project into smaller chunks, the overall risk is lowered: even if one part has problems, there is still something gained from the project as a whole. This also makes it easier to identify problems so they can be fixed sooner.
Seeing the Whole
Some parts of a project may not work out, due to unexpected development requirements, shifts in customer desires or other outside factors. With lean project management, your focus needs to stay on delivering maximum value to the customer; making adjustments as necessary through the process. Sometimes that means stopping one part of the project instead of seeing it through to free up resources that could be better allocated.
Make Training Part of the Process
Professional development may fall by the wayside when budgets and deadlines are primary concerns, but this can be detrimental to the overall process. Simply put, the better trained your team members are, the better their performance will be, helping you deliver the final product faster and at a lower cost. With routine and iterative projects, it’s easy to show improvements in performance, while case studies and stories of improvement in similar projects can give you the clout you need to get professional improvement approved.
Professional development isn’t limited to hardware or software certifications: you and your staff can improve your planning and management skills with courses from Cadence Management Corporation. We’ve developed courses to give you help where you need it, whether it’s overall improvement, specific parts of the process, or just a refresher course. We can even help you implement our methods through our consulting services.