How to be LEAN with Project Management Office

Lean management means elimination of waste or Muda in the production process. Naturally, only value adding steps are retained.

A more modern definition of lean management is, ‘LEAN it is a system for the organization and management of all parts of a business through the creation of principles, tools and practices for the development of goods and services that have a higher quality and lesser defects.’

The basic principles of lean management were developed by specialists such as Edward Deming, Joseph Juran and Philip Crosby, who were hired by Toyota. Incidentally, after it embraced lean production, Toyota started making tremendous progress. From there, it spread to the west. Since then, LEAN has been adopted by many other business verticals; project management is just one of them.

Why should project management offices adopt lean management?

Just one in four projects is completed on time, inside budget and with the required quality. A similar number of projects are abandoned midway and more than half of the projects that are completed cost more than anticipated, fail to deliver on objectives. So surely, there is room for improvement, especially in a world that is fast changing. Here are some steps to adopt LEAN into project management office.

Steps for adopting lean management in your project management office

Initiate the process: The first step in lean management is to determine if the project is really the right one for you. Will it help your company achieve its vision or mission? If it doesn’t, the project should be discarded.

Planning the process: Once you have selected a project, you have to plan ‘how’ you will carry it out. Here, you are going to work out, the structure of the project and the various processes involved, so that it can be delivered in a simple, repeatable and efficient way.

Executing the process: Once the processes have been determined, they have to be executed. You may have to recruit specialists for the job. The roles and responsibilities of all the members of the team are defined and accountability fixed.

Monitoring and controlling the process: The project manager should work in a preventive, rather than detective mode. He must focus on risk management and not firefighting. Reporting on project performance should be done on time. Automating this process can do a world of good.

Closing the process: Once the project is completed, the project management office should conduct SWOT analysis and brain storming sessions to compile lessons learned from the project. These can then be included in a ‘best practice’ process so that if you get a similar project in the future, you will not make the same mistake.

If you follow these steps, you can make lean management an integral part of your company’s culture and you will begin to reap long term benefits.

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