LEAN Methodologies In Project Management

Mike Girdler

Lean for project success As outlined by Lean principle gurus, Womack and Jones, there are 5 core principles to Lean-value identification: value stream mapping, enabling …

Time to success conceptLean for project success

As outlined by Lean principle gurus, Womack and Jones, there are 5 core principles to Lean-value identification: value stream mapping, enabling flow, developing pull, and continuously improving. Being aware of the principles and incorporating their use in project selection, planning, and closing activities, can pay big dividends when it comes to delivering project success.


Adding value

One of the keys to Lean is identifying and adding value. To be successful, we must ensure that projects we undertake provide value to our organization and our customer. It’s for this reason that we undertake a careful analysis as to why we are selecting a certain project, and how it supports our overall organizational goals and objectives. By analyzing, identifying, and documenting the value we are able to provide the right justification for project selection and set ourselves and our organization on the right path to continued success.


Waste in a project

During the planning phase of a   project, we use several project management planning tools, like the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) to help us plan for a successful project delivery. However, project planning success can be increased by using the Lean concept of value stream mapping. We can map out the project process, or components of the project, and see any potential waste and eliminate it. For example, is there any unnecessary waiting going on during our project? If so, let’s get rid of it. Mapping allows us to ensure we are being as efficient as possible and reducing waste even before the project has begun.

What went right?

During the closing phase of a project one of our activities is to formally document lessons learned – what went right, what went wrong, what we can do differently? By adopting the Lean concept of continual improvement we can build on lessons learned by developing strategies and plans to leverage the knowledge for other areas and on other projects, and to instill a philosophy of Lean in the organization allowing it to truly profit from lessons learned.

As project managers, team members, or stakeholders, our goal is always project success. Being aware of Lean principles and using them in aspects of project selection and management can provide great benefits, help us manage projects more effectively, and propel us forward towards our desired success.

I’m sure you have examples of what effective Lean Project management is to you and your organization. I’d love to hear about them. Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter. Of course, you could always write your own blog post on the subject and share it with us… We’d love to read it!

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Michael Girdler is a vice-president, CornerStone Dynamics Inc. His blogs focus on all things project management. Throughout Mike's career, he has invested deeply into projects involving sales, marketing, training and development, continuing education, and communications environments.

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