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Implementing LEAN In Four Simple Steps

Feb 26, 2008
"Lean" concepts and methodologies may not have been originally devised for such purposes, but still they are finding increasing usage because competition has increased dramatically over the years, forcing businesses to listen to the Voice of the Customer (VOC) while designing new products and services or making alterations in existing ones.

Explained below is the standard process for implementing "Lean" in four simple steps that businesses normally employ for improving their business prospects.

Understanding Customer Needs

The first step in the process requires businesses to gather customer feedback and input and classify them into different categories such as quality related, pricing related, packaging related, and others related to after-sales services.

Classification is necessary because it makes it easier for the implementation team to concentrate on issues that have been reported the most and leave aside the rest for later. It would not be feasible to look into each and every issue and this is why businesses prefer using the classification process.

Quantifying Customer Requirements

The next step in the process deals with converting customer inputs into quantifiable terms that are used as benchmarks by the "Lean" implementation team. Customer inputs are usually vague and until and unless they are quantified, the implementation team will not be able to do justice to their allocated jobs and responsibilities.

For better results, the task of quantifying needs to be done by experienced and talented professionals who have the distinctive ability to think from the customer's point of view, without getting affected by personal opinions, viewpoints or perceptions.

Combining the merits of manual systems with the accuracy of advanced IT (Information Technology) systems is also a good way of ensuring the success of "Lean" implementation projects.

Converting Quantified Data Into Real-Time Products And Services

The next step deals with the most crucial aspect of the process (i.e. designing and developing new products or services based on the available quantified customer data). In this process, the designers, developers, engineers, finance managers and other professionals work as a team to assess the applicability of the available data, (i.e. whether or not it can be transformed into a product within the stipulated time and costs).

After examining each and every possibility, the only data components that have the best chance of making it out as a new product or service are selected.

Delivering The Product Or Service

In the last step, businesses are required to ensure that error-free products or services are made available to the end-user at the right time, in the right quantity and in the right place. Until and unless this is done, businesses cannot afford to boast about their "Lean" initiatives because it is only after consumers put their seal of approval, is a new product or service deemed successful.

The above process is normally utilized for designing and developing new products or services, but in some cases, it can also be used for making alterations in existing products or services. Whatever the objective, this process will always be useful as long as businesses do not lose their ability to adapt and innovate.
About the Author
Tony Jacowski is a quality analyst for The MBA Journal. Aveta Solution's Six Sigma Online offers online six sigma training and certification classes for lean six sigma, black belts, green belts, and yellow belts.
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