If there is one major constant in the world of business, it’s change. This digital age has seen a wealth of new technology revolutionize not only the essential processes that keep companies ticking along, but also the expectations of customers. An enterprise that is prepared to adapt its most vital business operations can enjoy significant benefits, not just in terms of saving time and resources but also in keeping clients satisfied.
Minimizing waste and maximizing value go hand in hand, whether a company relies on products, services or a mixture of the two. In every process from marketing to customer service, there will be room to trim the fat and cut costs. This is the purpose of ‘Lean’, a business methodology designed to cut out chronic wastage and create an atmosphere of continuous improvement.
So, what is Lean? The methodology is designed to reduce any steps within a given process which do not add value, allowing businesses to reduce operating costs and ease out any unnecessary manpower. Lean-certified practitioners are left with more efficient processes overall, which in turn will help them to produce more reliable and high-quality end products – a great way to boost customer loyalty!
While the methodology was initially used for Lean manufacturing and production, it has since evolved into a hugely popular methodology for process management in general. ‘Lean management’ can even benefit employees, as those closest to a key process will be encouraged to suggest and take ownership of further improvements. This, in turn, can provide a huge boost to job satisfaction and employee retention.
In the early 2000s, the Lean methodology was also combined with Six Sigma. ‘Lean Six Sigma’ focuses on combining the impetus for continuous improvement with a commitment to reducing the chance of process errors to near-zero, offering companies holistic guidance on how to get as much out of their most essential practices as possible. Combining over 100 tools and techniques, Lean Six Sigma now has a huge global community of practitioners, though the standalone Lean methodology is still going strong.
How can Studying Lean Benefit my Business?
Of course, all of this might sound nice, but there is no shortage of businesses which have never even heard of Lean, yet still manage to get along without any trouble. What, then, are the biggest potential benefits for studying Lean, once you get down to brass tacks?
Flexibility for change
Customer demands are constantly in flux (in fact, that might be the only constant as far as clients are concerned!) Even in the least volatile markets and industries, recent changes in technology have had a huge impact not only on the delivery of key products and services, but also on the way in which customers voice complaints and search for competitors. Should a company fail to provide the quality that a customer expects, it is easier than ever to lose their business.
However, this impetus for improvement could easily be viewed as an opportunity. Companies which are able to treat even their most fundamental processes as works in progress will be far more prepared to refine and improve them. Taking advantage of potential changes early on can also leave a business in a far better position than less reactive competitors.
That being said, attempting to do so without having clear guidance in place can be both inefficient and wasteful. Lean provides a clear methodology for pursuing continuous improvement, with the principles of lean manufacturing having been applied to everything from online selling to customer service.
In virtually any production process, it is easy to waste time, materials and, of course, money. It doesn’t matter if you are creating products or digital services: depending on the methods, tools and techniques that you utilize on a daily basis, it may be that you are needlessly throwing resources away.
Lean is about minimizing waste as much as possible, without sacrificing quality or productivity. In essence, it works by removing or amending any stages of a key process which do not add value, eliminating waste across an entire value stream in a process of continuous improvement. It does this by taking into account consistently important factors, such as time, finance, effort and human error.
It is worth keeping in mind that boosting efficiency in this way will not only save key resources, but it will also allow you to reinvest them elsewhere. By following the Lean methodology, you could soon find yourself with more than enough to invest in boosting the quality of your end products, which in turn can mean happier customers and a far healthier share of your chosen market.
Increase quality and reliability
When increasing the efficiency of a process, one of the most important steps will be boosting its reliability. You will want to make sure that as many customers as possible can enjoy the same level of quality, or you may lose out on repeat business.
It is for this reason that Lean is often combined with ‘Six Sigma’, a system designed to reduce the possibility of errors, and thus defective products, to near-zero. Utilizing the combined methodologies can have a major impact on the reputation of your brand. Customers who feel that they can rely on the quality of your overall service will keep coming back, whether they are individual shoppers or large corporate clients. Remember, in this world of global competition and toxic customer reviews, it is crucial not to give an inch!
Reduce operating costs
One of the biggest advantages of the Lean methodology is what it can do for a company’s bottom line. Eliminating wastage present in key processes can leave a company with substantial savings which, in turn, can then be reinvested elsewhere. By applying Lean throughout your value chain, you may find that you can ease out unnecessary positions or even bring in further automation.
Of course, you would also have the option of simply adding the savings to your overall profits!
Boost staff productivity
When it comes to upskilling key executives, we can often forget about the potential advantages of providing similar training for lower-tier employees. Certifications for Lean cover several levels of proficiency, with white and yellow belt holders having enough expertise to, at the very least, recognize where Lean’s disciplines can be applied to their own work.
What does this mean in practice? As members of staff are trained to boost the value of their own contributions to an overall process, they can start to take more pride in those contributions. Over time, employees will feel more encouraged to come forward with ideas for further changes, not only helping to boost productivity but also contributing to the atmosphere of continuous improvement for which all Lean practitioners strive.
This confidence can also have other major long-term advantages. The important thing to remember about key employees is that you do not want to lose them. As these workers gain more trust in an employer’s approach to efficiency, they will be far less likely to want to jump ship and will instead work smarter and harder to contribute to shared goals.
Reduce the length of production cycles
These days, customers have been trained to expect immediate results for their money. Retail giants are offering overnight deliveries, while customer service executives will often respond to online inquiries within minutes. In other words, speed is key, but a wasteful production cycle can often cause unnecessary lagging.
The principles of Lean are designed to boost the productivity and efficiency of essential business processes, resulting in more refined production cycles. Crucially, however, the same principles emphasize the importance of retaining the quality of end products. Rather than trading standards for speed, you and your customers can instead enjoy the benefits of both. Better yet, the ideology behind Lean will encourage you to keep looking for ways to boost this further, allowing you to take ground from sluggish competitors.
Why Study Lean with Good e-Learning?
With the continuing popularity of the Lean methodology, a number of learning providers have emerged who claim to offer a cheap and easy route to certification. These companies often boast that they can get candidates qualified for higher level Lean certifications in virtually no time at all, though the reality is sadly much less convenient.
Most non-accredited Lean course providers offer learning content that is decidedly subpar and rarely produced by genuine Lean practitioners. Not only can this fail to prepare students to sit official examinations, but it can also result in certifications which are not officially recognized. In other words, while these options may well be cheaper, you will have little to show for your time and effort.
Good e-Learning is an award-winning online course provider which offers a number of packages in Lean and Six Sigma. The Lean Foundation & Management and Lean Master Belt Practitioner courses are not only written by expert practitioners but they also a number of perks to help students along:
- 5 hours of course materials
- Quizzes and revision modules
- 24/7 tutor support from experts
- 6 months of access instantly
- Certificate of completion
Good e-Learning can also produce bespoke learning packages based on the unique goals, structure and employees of individual companies. Not only can this be far more effective than traditional instructor-led training, but can also create a valuable long-term resource to help train both current and future employees.
Interested in finding out about how Lean can benefit your business? Contact Good e-Learning today to find out more!