Organizations such as hospitals, governments, educators, service providers, printers, event planners, and insurance companies ask. “How can Lean apply to my company?. I don’t make cars like Toyota.” But implementing Lean in these organizations provides value to the organization, its leaders, its employees, and its customers just as much as it applies value to manufacturing companies.
Differences in Organizations
It is true that these organizations do not have a production line producing a specified product or set of products. In fact, they can all list ways in which they are different. Consider a hospital, for example. Even if patients have the same illness as another patient, they present with their unique set of signs and symptoms. In the case of a printer, jobs may be similar but the layout, stock, and ink, as well as the specifications, are unique. For the event planner, every festival, celebration, or fundraiser has its own requirements and challenges. However, they all follow a process and each industry has process problems. The same Lean principles can apply. There may be adjustments to fit the industry, but the Lean tools can be used and the management processes implemented.
Value to Businesses
With the implementation of Lean processes and Lean management, these businesses can eliminate errors, rework or “do-overs”, reduce processing time, improve customer response time, workflow, and quality. When scheduled maintenance and quality assurance steps are taken, then quality and productivity actually improve and waste is reduced. When processes, or what is referred to as standard work documents are established, then you can identify areas of improvement and celebrate when target conditions are achieved.
Real World Examples
As an example, I can reference several cases of hospitals that have implemented Lean in testing areas and emergency rooms. The result has been improved patient care and satisfaction, as well as waste reduction. In the case of the ER, the staff was able to reduce the time to triage the arriving patients and to have the needed supplies at the right place. In the case of the testing area, waiting time and paperwork was reduced and both staff and customer satisfaction improved. There are so many examples of success in these industries. Government offices reduced Selling a business in Boca Raton cost and paperwork while improving citizen approval ratings. Printers reduced many costs, including waste and inventory while improving workflow. The result for them was increased business and growing profits.
The Challenges Along the Journey
But these successes were not without their challenges. The easiest part of getting started with Lean is learning the processes and how to complete the forms. The greatest challenge lies in creating and sustaining a Lean culture. The entire executive suite must be committed to LEAN and developing and sustaining a Lean culture. It takes commitment and discipline on the part of management, especially the middle management to stick to the lean processes. It requires bottom-up and top-down perspectives to have both the big picture and the details. It takes more than a superficial look to identify the areas in the end-to-end workflow that are not a value for which the customer is willing to pay.