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Project management is all about delivering successful outcomes while optimizing resources. In today’s competitive landscape, organizations are constantly seeking ways to cut costs, streamline processes, and save time. This is where Lean Project Management comes into play. By implementing Lean principles, tools, and techniques into your project management routine, you can achieve higher efficiency, reduced waste, and improved productivity.

In this article, we will explore how you can implement Lean Project Management and start cutting costs while saving hours in your projects. Whether you’re a project manager, team leader, or involved in project execution, these strategies will help you optimize your processes, enhance collaboration, and deliver successful projects.

Understanding Lean Project Management

Lean Project Management is an approach derived from the Lean methodology, which originated in manufacturing and has been successfully applied to various industries, including project management. The core idea of Lean is to maximize value while minimizing waste. In the context of project management, Lean focuses on eliminating activities that do not add value to the project, streamlining workflows, and continuously improving processes.

Lean Project Management is based on five key principles:

  1. Identify Value: Determine what activities and deliverables add value to the project from the perspective of the customer or stakeholder.
  2. Map the Value Stream: Identify the end-to-end process flow and eliminate non-value-added steps or bottlenecks.
  3. Create Flow: Streamline the project workflow to minimize delays, handoffs, and waiting time.
  4. Establish Pull: Implement a pull-based system where work is initiated based on demand and capacity, avoiding overburdening resources.
  5. Pursue Perfection: Continuously improve processes, eliminate waste, and strive for excellence.

The 7 Wastes Of Different Variety According To Lean Project Management

To put it simply, everything that has no beneficial influence on the end product’s performance is deemed waste. Most notably throughout short-term operations, avoiding resources and idle time contributes to the emergence of better profit in the long run. The 7 categories of wastes are defined in depth in Lean Project Management, which itself is derived from Lean Manufacturing.

  • Inventory: When you order too much stock or make your purchase before you know how much you’ll actually need. It has the potential to turn everything about your process into shambles and result in excessive charges.
  • Waiting: This one is directly linked to neglecting your plans.  If this happens, as the project progresses, individuals and activities slack and have to wait for priors to proceed.
  • Defects: This results in not only tardiness in the project’s completion, but also financial, manpower, and reputational losses.
  • Overproduction: Overproducing can lose you more funds and resources than you anticipated during the planning stage. Furthermore, the fundamental issue with overproduction is that it diminishes the worth of your goods in the long run.
  • Motion: Inadequate communication amongst project members is a fundamental cause of motion wastage. It’s usually preferable to maintain project participants centered on their responsibilities.
  • Transportation: This one is linked to the project’s physical sites. If the project must be completed in multiple places, you should figure out a means to limit transportation costs and keep them as low as possible.
  • Over-processing: Excessive approval processes usually put a strain on the project’s pace. It is much preferable to deploy quickly rather than flawlessly under the agile project management process.

Implementing Lean Project Management

Now let’s explore how you can implement Lean Project Management in your routine:

1. Value Stream Mapping

Start by mapping the value stream of your project. Identify all the activities and deliverables involved, and assess their value to the customer or stakeholder. This will help you identify areas of waste or non-value-added steps that can be eliminated or streamlined.

2. Eliminate Waste

Once you have identified non-value-added steps, focus on eliminating waste. Waste can take various forms, such as unnecessary handoffs, delays, excessive documentation, or overproduction. Streamline processes by removing these wastes and optimizing the flow of work.

3. Optimize Workflow

Analyze your project workflow and identify areas where bottlenecks or delays occur. Look for opportunities to improve flow by minimizing handoffs, reducing waiting time, and ensuring a smooth and continuous progression of work. Foster collaboration and communication among team members to enhance workflow efficiency.

4. Implement Visual Management

Visual management is a powerful tool in Lean Project Management. Use visual indicators such as Kanban boards, task boards, or Gantt charts to provide visibility into project status, progress, and priorities. Visual management enhances communication, facilitates decision-making, and enables better resource allocation.

5. Empower Team Members

Empower your team members by involving them in the decision-making process and giving them ownership of their work. Encourage a culture of continuous improvement and provide opportunities for skill development and learning. Engaged and empowered team members are more likely to identify waste, suggest improvements, and take ownership of project outcomes.

6. Continuous Improvement

Continuously strive for perfection by fostering a culture of continuous improvement. Regularly evaluate your project processes, gather feedback from team members, and identify areas for enhancement. Implement incremental changes and measure the impact of those changes to ensure continuous progress.

What Do You Get Out Of Lean Project Management?

There are plenty of benefits to implementing Lean Project Management into your projects and the whole organization. A few of them are quite obvious, but others you wouldn’t immediately guess. Let’s get into the details of all of the things you can get out of Lean Project Management.

Faster Delivery Times

The amount of time you will be able to save during each process as you implement Lean Project Management techniques will rise as you go through your project’s production lifecycle.

Inventory Cost Will Go Down

Getting your productivity to be right on schedule all the time means your organization can function smoothly and without a hitch even with a much lower than usual inventory level.

More Engagement

Team members are encouraged to participate and engage with resource efficiency and optimization through ownership culture.

Higher Productivity Levels

Productivity will increase when obstructions in the flow are removed using Lean tools and practices.

Elevated Quality

The goal is to prevent faults in the Lean Project Management process. This decreases future faults while also improving the general well-being and quality of goods and services.

Better Work Culture

Organizations that have adopted a culture of continuous development eventually deliver a better work culture and market-competitive performance.

Satisfied Customers

When you use Lean Project Management to produce better goods and improve your delivery times, you’ll have much happier customers and a good reputation.

Best Tools And Resources To Use In Lean Project Management

Some strategies for improving productivity throughout project management tasks and organizational change are provided by Lean Project Management apps.

Mapping Value Streams

Experts are using this tool for assessing the present condition of a value stream as well as developing a strategy for achieving the projected future of a product or service’s manufacturing lifecycle. “Material & information flow mapping” is another name for it. It’s basically a graphic tool that displays all important phases in a process, along with the duration and volume consumed by every step. A value chain would be a similar term that outlines all the operations that take place within a corporation.

Work Cells

Some of the best examples of how work cells function are cross-functional or independent teams. Physical tools and resources can be added to the team’s work cells in specific instances, but this can vary depending on the sector and how standards are met.

Iteration Or 1 Piece Flow

Iteration is a term often used in the software development industry. Within manufacturing professionals, a work team might use this strategy by concentrating on only one item or job until it is completed. You must create a consistent production environment in order to employ the one-piece flow approach.

Kaizen

“Kaizen” refers to the notion that continually improves all operations and relates to company actions that include everyone from the President to the production workers.  The term kaizen (改善) means “improvement” in Japanese.  It can also be applied to any processes that rely on external techniques and organizations, including buying and shipping. Healthcare, counseling, mentorship, government, and finance are among the sectors and businesses where it is usually used.

The goal of this approach is to reduce waste by improving the standard and quality of existing programs and procedures.

Currently, there are five basic principles behind Kaizen which are present in every instrument and activity associated with the idea. They are: “Understand Your Customer”, “Let things flow”, “Go to the Gemba, “Empower People”, and “Be Transparent”. In order to create an effective culture of constant improvement and a benchmark in the progress of excellence, efficiency, and workforce management relationships, these five principles must be used in every organization.

All Kaizen events usually incorporate some or all of the following ideas:

  • Set your goals and include any relevant data and information.
  • Examine and assess the present situation before announcing a proposal for improvement.
  • Carry out improvements.
  • Figure out what isn’t working and find an easy way to repair it.
  • Keep note of things to follow up on and share the outcome.

The 5S Or Five Phases

Sort, shine, set in order, standardize, and sustain are the five steps of the 5-S method. Every S indicates a 5-step procedure that may help a company enhance its general efficiency. To get started, Sort, the very first stage in the 5-S process, evaluates what is essential for your working area and the things that could be discarded without affecting the work’s worth.

Then, following the preliminary sorting, teams can put their strategy in place for the leftover items. Shine involves routine maintenance of current processes and equipment. The next phase is to standardize, which involves systematizing and repeating the activities accomplished in the previous steps. The final phase concerns the consistency of performance behaviors.

Plan, Do, Check & Act, Or PDCA

“PDCA” refers to a four-stage iterative technique that includes “Plan,” “Do,” “Check,” and “Act.” This strategy is used to regulate and enhance corporate processes and goods over time. It gives you a clear, effective, and quick way to solve every problem by allowing you to try different solutions and evaluate results in a waste-reduction cycle whilst also implementing changes.

PDCA presents a systematic strategy to identify the best solutions to a problem by following these 4 steps.

Plan

To begin, you must first comprehend and find the issue or prospect that you wish to pursue in order to reach the desired outcomes. Then, to demonstrate desired quality standards, set the goals and methods necessary.

Do

The next stage is to put the selected possible solution through a testing process. Doing the testing is going to show you whether or not the findings fulfill the quality standards. If you discover an issue early on, you may make cost-effective modifications to your plan.

Check

This stage involves gathering and analyzing the outcomes of the previous phase in more depth. You’d go back to the Plan phase if you feel like you did not receive the intended outcomes. Once you’re happy with the results, you may move on to Acting. Since you’re going to use the procedure more than once, placing all of the information into something like a chart can help you notice the differences between the cycles.

Act

This is the stage when you put your solution into action or launch your solution package. Adjustment is another name for this stage. The process improves as a result of the activities made throughout this phase, with specific guidelines, norms, and features. During subsequent PDCA implementation, the supervisor must monitor for and avoid duplicate activities and solutions, so resource waste can be reduced and avoided.

Lean Project Management vs Different Agile Methods

All of the other different Agile methodologies have a close link with Lean Project Management, as the majority of them prioritize customer happiness within their value chain. They’ve all been created iteratively, with the goal of producing regular improvements rather than large release packages. Most significantly, it is critical to comprehend the similarities and differences across Lean Project Management and other Agile methodology in order to ensure that the implementation is viable and that your project management process will be successful and efficient.

But as much as they have in common, Lean Project Management can also be very different from all of the other Agile methodologies, either in small or fundamental ways.

Lean Project Management seeks to reduce waste in both the short and long term and to enhance processes, and satisfy client needs more effectively and precisely.  Instead of focusing on a single area, such as software development, Lean Project Management delivers knowledge to all tiers of a business. To add value to the organization in its entirety, all units may adopt Lean concepts to their operations. Lean culture aids firms in increasing overall effectiveness and streamlining whole operations.

A primary goal of Lean Project Management should always be to eliminate as much variance & rework as feasible. It highlights a variety of activities that may be taken with a variety of instruments to reduce this type of expense.

Benefits of Lean Project Management

Implementing Lean Project Management brings several benefits:

  • Reduced costs by eliminating waste and optimizing resource utilization.
  • Saved time through streamlined processes and improved workflow.
  • Enhanced productivity and efficiency by focusing on value-added activities.
  • Improved quality by identifying and addressing root causes of problems.
  • Better collaboration and communication among team members.
  • Increased customer satisfaction through timely delivery of value-added outcomes.

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Conclusion

Implementing Lean Project Management principles, tools, and techniques can revolutionize your project management routine and lead to significant cost savings and time efficiencies. By identifying value, eliminating waste, optimizing workflow, and fostering a culture of continuous improvement, you can cut costs and save hours in your projects. Embrace Lean Project Management and unlock the potential for success and efficiency in your project management endeavors.

Have you led projects and are looking to earn a project management certification?  You might be interested in learning about how lucrative this can be.  Check out these articles.

Should You Become PMP Certified? – Here’s Why Becoming A Certified Project Management Professional Can Boost Your Career

13 PMP Benefits Once You Get The PMP Certification

No experience leading projects but still want to get into project management?  No problem!  Check out these articles.  

CAPM Certification Eligibility

What is a Certified Project Manager; How do I get PM Certifications

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- G. Buchs

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I've sent several emails to BrainSensei (one of them not so nice, but the rest were okay) and the team has always been so polite in answering the questions. I'm a very straight-forward person and don't like the PMI-ism type questions because they seem like 'gotchas' or traps, and this is not how I manage my team. I took the Master of Project course (which was garbage) then failed the PMP exam. Throughout the PMP exam I felt so out of touch. Even with the first practice exam on BrainSensei I felt out of place, but I am not getting the hang of things. I hope to pass the exam on the second attempt! The brain sensei experience has been *miles* ahead of the Master of Project garbage. Brain Sensei should be proud of both their product and of their team! I love getting replies to my concerns so quickly. Nice work :) !!!

- Joseph Mather

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This course was great. it laid a great foundation for the PMP exam.

- Marc Vazquez

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very useful

- Dan

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I was very pleased with the preparation provided for the PMP certification. I went through the materials twice and passed the exam on the first try. A couple of the questions need to be polished up, but very good training overall.

- Glen

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Very easy to work with and quality product.

- Joan

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The storyline provides excellent examples that provide context for understanding the core concepts and processes

- Ann

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Good self paced learning tool

- Muneer

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Outstanding job

- Jerome

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This is by far the best way to prepare yourself for the PMP exam. The material is presented in a unique and engaging way that makes learning it easy and also fun! The company behind this course is also very professional and responsive. Keep up the great work!

- Amir Afifi

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I have studied with other programs and I didn’t feel prepared. After a short time with Brain Sensei, I had the confidence to succeed on exam day, which I did on the first try after studying with Brain Sensei. It was worth every penny.

- Andrew Grady

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Great program

- Ashley

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Course is made for people who are already grounded in the material, not for someone that needs all the basics. Was budget friendly and OK content.

- Andrew

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Brain Sensei is great tool to have in the study arsenal while preparing for the PMP exam.

- Derek

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I really enjoyed the modules and content offered by Brain Sensei! I passed the PMP Exam on the first try and would recommend this course to anyone who is looking for a great PMP Exam Prep.

- Delfin Gallegos

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Overall layout is good, but there are some quality issues. Progress isn't always saved across all devices and progress gets lost. Some small spelling mistakes. I loved the practical storyline...

- Riaan

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Passed my PMP on first attempt using Brain Sensei Prep course.

- Mohammad Ali

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Quick and helpful response. Thanks!!

- Laura

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Absolutely Fantastic learning software. Highly recommend it! Very well thought out and creative. Really enjoyed my study time. Excellent mock tests and mock exams. So so helpful. Thank you Brain Sensei Team for being part of my PMP journey!

- Tracy

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Need improvement in presenting more relevant real exam type questions. The practice exams are too simple and easy and do not prepare you for the real exam. Otherwise, good concept presenting material

- Amir

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The prep materials provided plenty of content which prepared me well for the PMP exam. The questions were packed with information.

- Cameron

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Teaches the PMP in a solid manner, some things you need to know as a potential consumer: -The Samurai backstory is extremely short, and didn’t really assist me with recall in any in-depth way. It only gave broad brush-strokes as to what each phase entailed. -MOST of what was on the test was covered in the lessons, however if I had zero real prior PM knowledge prior to the test, I would have failed. -The first practice test forces you, as the student to actually read into the PMBOK, which was a benefit in the long run as it assisted me with quickly referencing what I needed to find. -The course will likely cover wave tops and subjects, forcing me to self-study for a week before my test... not a bad deal all things considered. -Brain Sensei’s course has incorporated Agile into one of their practice tests, and this test IS mandatory. This may seem strange, and I didn’t get a satisfactory reason why I needed to take a purely Agile test when I only wanted to take the PMP, for anyone else in this scenario, this is the reason: In June, PMI is revamping the PMP test to include Agile as a significant portion of the PMP. Brain Sensei is just ahead of the curve trying to get students prepared... fret not. Their customer service is extremely responsive and does take care of their members. My program had a couple bugs, and the customer service fixed my problems within 24 hours. All in all... it was absolutely worth the money for me.

- Kevin

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I am very impressed with this learning system. The content is laid out in a way that will make any learner understand all the process groups and ITTOs in order to understand Project management and be equipped to excel in the test. The learning system is engaging and fun at the same time. It's very different than other learning material which is composed mostly of videos. Some improvements are needed, but in my opinion Brain Sensei is great value for money

- said durra

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At first, I was attracted to Brain Sensei training for their original learning program using a Samurai's story. And indeed it made the whole learning experience funnier - so easier. I felt like the Samurai. Then, I was amazed by The Brain Sensei Team's reactivity and help when I reached out through contact@brainsensei.com Their support was constantly reliable and efficient. I appreciated their professionalism and didn't feel on my own. At last, the course and the practice exams proved to be efficient since I passed the PMP exam - with 'Above Targe't in all Domains. So thank you so much Brain Sensei Team !! Charlene

- Charlene LU

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Overall very good. Got stuck a few times trying to find resources which I should have downloaded the before starting the program. Customer service has been great.

- Jonathan Williams

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SO far I am thoroughly enjoying the Brain Sensei PMP prep course. I have taken a Project management class as a part of my degree which I recently completed and project management has always interested me. I find the course to be educational and easy to follow. I am grateful that this course has been designed in such a way that is simple to understand all of the complexities in project management and that allows me to study at my own pace.

- Eric Browne

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The content is good and easy to understand

- Glenn

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This review is based on completing all course work through module 102. The story and interactive nature of the course are helpful for learning and relating the material. It would be nice to have the page numbers to the PMBOK guide where references are made to it. Other information that will be helpful, are the explanations to the practice questions at the end of each module. These are provided only after immediately answering the questions. Having these available in the score summary from the 'history' tab will be helpful to refresh why the answer is correct and other options are not.

- Rohan Punit

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Overall I would rate this course an 8/10. I liked how there were exams towards the end of every module and I felt that it was very useful having it laid out in different scenarios. I rate it only an 8/10 as I had some glitch/software issues and lost my progress resulting in me having to re-do modules/exams multiple times. All in all, that was maybe useful in the end as it was a way for me study or 're-learn' the course material. Thank you!

- Nikki Cordy

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Clear and precise explanations of how things work. I was never lost navigating the course.

- Gary Nicol

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A smart approach to present the information which makes it fun and engaging while at the same time preparing for the PMP exam. Brain Sensei differentiates itself from other PMP exam preps in that it delivers the knowledge through the use of storytelling technique. I recommend this course because it will help you pass your PMP exam on the first try.

- Jamal

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Loved the story telling and the practice exams. I felt very prepared when the actual exam came around.

- Josh

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One of a kind training that was truly engaging!

- Claire

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Excellent course for preparing for the PMP exam in a fun and engaging way! The practice questions resemble the actual questions on the exam making it a completely worthwhile experience.

- Rossetta

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I passed the PMP exam after taking Brain Sensei's Online PMP Certification Exam Prep. The practice exam questions were so similar to the questions that appeared on the exam. On exam day, when I sat down to take the test and started running through the questions I felt so relieved! The practice exams are also timed so you get more comfortable with the exam experience and feel better prepared when you sit down to take the test. The other differentiator was the video content throughout the modules. The concepts are taught through a story of a young samurai defending her kingdom. This will probably be the only PMP prep course where you can learn all the knowledge areas and feudal Japan at the same time. I'd recommend this course not just because of the videos but because it helped me pass my exam on the first try.

- Jackie

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Good course, but a few grammatical errors with how some questions were worded.

- Sonia

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It was good!

- Sergei

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Loved the unique approach and it still had all the info I'd expect from a full PMP exam prep course. Very responsive on questions too.

- Chris