The Top 10 Reasons to Start Lean Office and Lean Manufacturing at the Same Time

Most manufacturing organizations start their Lean journey on the factory floor first. Many soon recognize that meaningful, lasting improvement is only possible if Lean principles are also applied to administrative processes that support and enable manufacturing. Some companies have not yet recognized that Lean principles apply equally well to financial, human resource, engineering and administrative processes and use Lean primarily as a manufacturing tool.
We believe that Lean should be applied simultaneously to the factory and the office, rather than waiting to apply Lean office as the “next phase” after factory Lean has advanced to a certain level.
Here are the top 10 reasons to start Lean office and Lean manufacturing at the same time:
1. Gives the Lean manufacturing effort more credibility. Not just another attempt to cut out factory labor. Sends clear message that no one gets a free pass from Lean thinking.
2. Most of the cost is in the front office, or the decisions that come from it.
3. Creates capacity in the office, sales, engineering, and purchasing to start generating new sales to fill up the capacity Lean will create in the factory.
4. Unleashes the experience and creativity of the people in the office to solve all kinds of problems for the factory and for customers.
5. Helps the finance people understand Lean so that they will change both how they do accounting and how the tactical kaizen activities are chosen so that they connect to bottom line savings.
6. Involves customers and suppliers sooner in the Lean process, since the office people often have more direct contact with them.
7. Reducing the information flow lead-time is often a low-hanging fruit that improves cash flow and time to market.
8. Helps the Human Resource department understand how hiring and training needs to be done in order to support kaizen and Lean.
9. Avoids spending millions on IT by having IT specialists, users and decisions maters understand process flow first by mapping it out and redesigning it.
10. Almost any meeting can take less time and be more effective using Lean principles. The people paid the most can spend less time in meetings and more time at the gemba and with the customer.
So why do people wait to start implementing Lean Office? I spoke with a customer today whose office manager just went to see the office of another Gemba client. She watched their one-piece flow bill paying process. She returned to her own company, tried the same thing and saved 45 minutes on the first try.
Never mind if you’ve already started Lean manufacturing, or if you’re about to begin. When you’re ready to take the step towards Lean office, come join one of our “hear, see & do” Lean office training sessions. Now you’ve heard about Lean office, but seeing is believing and doing is understanding.