Why lean thinking should go beyond manufacturing processes and infiltrate all of your business systems

Published Wednesday, October 25, 2017 10:00 AM by Mark Dewell, MD of Commercial and Third Sector

Lean thinking is often associated with manufacturing processes, and for obvious reasons. The linear nature of them allows for easier identification of bottlenecks and inefficiencies - it is easy to see which process is holding up the production line. In many organisations, lean has also become a term that is associated exclusively with a reduction in physical waste such as scrap or rejections.

However, it is a mistake to associate lean thinking exclusively with the manufacturing environment. It may be correct to assume that lean thinking is about the reduction of waste, but most people misunderstand or limit the definition of ‘waste’.

In order to understand waste, you need to consider all of the following:

  • Transport - the unnecessary movement of materials or resources
  • Inventory - too much stock increases the need for storage, and ties up cash flow
  • Motion - unnecessary movement of people either to or from a process, or during a process
  • Waiting - people, equipment or resources sat unused between processes
  • Over-processing - repeated or unnecessary actions which add little or no value
  • Over-production - producing more than is required
  • Defects - reworking/repairing poor quality output, or rejections
  • Skills - poorly trained staff can be inefficient and productivity can suffer

It is clear when considering all of these areas that lean thinking can apply to either tangible, or intangible processes or resources. For example, over-processing could either mean one too many coats of paint or the fact that sales invoices are entered into two separate computer systems.

Many businesses make the mistake of focusing on the tangible resources and often forget about the intangible ones, which are equally as important. So how can businesses ensure they streamline all of their processes?

One option is to hire a consultancy firm to look at your current processes and recommend improvements. This may involve a lengthy and expensive consultation period, often culminating in the recommendation of a computerised system that requires significant upfront investment and ongoing costs.

For many small & medium sized businesses, spending tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds on a business software solution is a luxury they cannot afford. This is where we can help. At Advanced, we offer a range of powerful and affordable software solutions, with no upfront costs and one simple, affordable monthly fee. Our solutions promote lean thinking by aligning all business processes into one, fully integrated system.

Our complete Cloud-based accounting and ERP system provides total control over your customers, suppliers, resources, scheduling and business performance with one award winning solution. Full-time support is also included for one single monthly fee.

If you would like to find out more about applying lean thinking to all of your business processes, please contact us or visit www.oneadvanced.com/cloud