The Lean Office
By Expense Reduction Analysts.
Organisations need robust, waste-free, flexible office processes that meet their customer needs and help them survive in the global marketplace. In any review of the financial health of an organisation, it is becoming more and more important to focus on minimising overheads, reducing waste and improving inefficient procedures.
Lean is a proven, systematic approach for eliminating or minimising waste that results in the production of goods or services at the lowest possible cost. But it goes beyond the shop floor. Lean is every system, every process and every employee in the company.
The Lean Office shares the same basic philosophies as Lean in manufacturing: relentlessly attack waste, believe that any process can be improved, and focus on flow. Process improvement in the office is as feasible as it is in any traditional manufacturing or production environment and organisations implementing lean techniques remove waste, save money and increase efficiency.
Lean relies on proven tools and techniques to succeed. At the heart of these, the target is to minimise wasteful activity, focusing only on activities that add value to the product and meet customer needs.
In order to capture the current state of the process, organisations typically use a method called Value Stream Mapping. This is a central view of all business processes as they are now, and can also be used to construct a future process, portraying the business once lean methodology has been introduced. Lean Office principles have many benefits, but perhaps most importantly:
- Solving Problems – Lean Office principles assist in identifying problem areas and bottlenecks within a business, then eliminating them.
- Increasing Efficiency – Lean Office procedures will have a significant impact on the efficiency of staff. You can ensure that all employees are spending time adding value to the customer experience – and any time saved is redirected to value added tasks.
- Saving Money – Reducing the paperwork means you may not need to take on extra staff to help with administration and lean principles can help identify where savings are made.
- Simplifying Processes – As a business expands, processes can become too time intensive and ultimately bureaucratic. Lean Office techniques identify inefficiencies and remove them.
- Regulatory Compliance – If your business has to conform to rules and regulations or codes of conduct, then through standard processes Lean Office principles can help ensure compliance.
Lean Office principles streamline processes, which in turn helps identify problems in other areas of the business. Often businesses that create a Lean Office also establish lean as an activity across the whole business. The aim is an organisation which is able to service its customers better and, just as importantly, know that they are doing things right.
Cost management, slimmer margins, shorter lead times and higher customer expectations are some of the challenges that businesses face every day. A management system built around lean processes enables companies to achieve operational excellence, while providing flexibility in the way activities are managed.
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