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How to adopt lean operations for your business

How to adopt lean operations for your business

Originally developed for manufacturers with a production line, lean manufacturing incorporates several principles aimed at making an operation more efficient, including minimising waste and continually improving.

The principles of lean operations aren’t just for manufacturing – they can also help keep any business in the black over the long term. We provide some tips on applying lean management principles to your business.

Waste

One of the main aspects of lean manufacturing principles is to minimise waste, but this approach isn’t just applicable for factories.

In the workplace, minimising waste could result in large cost savings. For example, addressing key areas of stationery waste could result in paper use being reduced. This could be through changing to a paperless office or regularly reminding staff to only print when absolutely necessary.

Beyond the physical, you can also eliminate waste when it comes to effort and time. Keep track of how much time your staff is putting into certain tasks throughout the day to see where you might be able to cut down. As the old management adage goes: you can only change what you can measure.

Continually improve

In order for your business to progress, it’s important to continuously improve your operations. This will allow you to streamline processes and build on your strengths.

In the workplace, this could mean improving how sales calls are handled, resulting in better customer satisfaction and higher return rates. Engaging your staff in the improvement process is always a good idea. You could also consider motivating staff to perform better by rewarding them or giving them incentives to work more effectively. Every small detail that helps to improve your business will only make it stronger.

Flow

Manufacturing depends on a consistent stream of products through a production line. Adopting this principle for communication in the workplace could help you to encourage teamwork and prevent ‘silos’.

For example, an audit of how information moves through your business will alert you to any bottlenecks or places where communication stops. Knowing this will help you become aware of what’s going on in your business and work out strategies on how to improve.

Defining value

Being aware of where the real value of your business lies – in what customers think – is important. Work out ways to learn where customers see value in your products or services. For example, next time a sales rep has a customer on the line, get them to ask a quick question about what products they value and why. It will only take a minute and the information can help you expand areas of your business that have value.

No company will ever be 100 per cent perfect, but striving for perfection can help you to develop a strong, healthy business. By adopting lean operations in your organisation, you can learn to run a tight ship that will help you survive the hard times.

The first step in improving business operations is to know where you stand. Find out why you need to keep track of your internal procedures.

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