Thursday, September 4, 2014

Common Mistakes #3 - Forgetting to Think Lean - If It Doesn't Add Value, Don't Do It


As an organization, one of your biggest challenges can be getting work done with the people you have.  Instead of adding additional resources, consider optimizing the time of your current employees through the adoption of lean principles.  

At their core, lean principles are about creating value.  If a process, task, meeting, status report, or any other activity does not add value to the team, end customer or consumer, consider it wasteful and stop doing it.  To help identify additional waste, take time to review your current procedures on their own merit and don't do them just because you’ve always done them a certain way.  Determine the value of the procedure versus the cost of producing such value.  If the cost of an activity is high in time and energy but achieves limited benefits, eliminate the activity.  Often understanding this cost is enough to convince yourself and others to “find a better way”.

You probably already know of tasks in your organization that are costly but must be done.  For example, financial audits, inventory control, or certain aspects of your development  process that may be mandatory for your business.  Consider automating and streamlining these tasks as much as possible to lower costs.

When developing software, resist the urge to develop features that do not add value for your customers.  If you cannot identify a specific user for a feature then do not implement it or defer it until the feature can be proven to add value.  Take time to identify the value that a feature will provide versus the cost of developing it.  When identifying costs, be sure to account for not only the development cost but also the testing, user documentation, training, and support that will result from the feature for the life of the product.  Automating testing of features will also help offset the costs of features that make it into the system.

These suggestions will assist you in eliminating waste in your organization.  Speed can be considered as the absence of waste, so eliminate the waste and you will respond to the important issues faster and achieve a higher degree of efficiency in your business.


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