Although the construction industry employs some unique applications of the approach, the principles of Lean are the same as they are in any other industry. The practice is rooted in respect for workers, the elimination of waste, and continuous process improvement, all of which can be practiced without supportive software in place.
However, many in the field have found that Lean construction software can help reduce some of the obstacles that make these principles easier said than done. Have you attempted to implement Lean in your firm, but been disappointed with the results?
Here are the signs that technology just might be the solution.
You want to ensure that Lean is sustainable over the long run
Almost every organization can point to a past improvement or waste reduction project that was successful. What Lean promises is sustained improvement over an extended period. This can be far more difficult than spotty improvement project here and there. Lean construction software provides a platform for collecting opportunities for improvement and managing those projects through to completion. It increases the engagement level of both staff and leadership while eliminating the fits and starts of improvement effort that are so common in organizations of all types.
“We’ve always done it that way,” is the default response
When someone asks why a process is done a certain way (if they are inclined and brave enough to do so), are they likely to hear, “We’ve always done it that way?” Does anyone even remember why the process was developed in the first place? Unless you believe that every process is perfect, that status quo mindset needs to be put aside. The current process might be an excellent place to start with, becoming the standard for today, but the point of standards is to improve upon them. In construction there are definitely some non-negotiable requirements, but still lots of room for positive change. Lean construction software helps you document the current standard and provides structure for making improvements.
There is an unhelpful fear of failure
The opposite of, “We’ve always done it that way,” is “We tried it once, and it didn’t work.” That is an equally paralyzing way of thinking. That’s not to say that we are suggesting you repeat the same mistake over and over again, but trying a something different, perhaps with a slightly different take on execution or a new set of circumstances should be seen as a positive even if the results are imperfect. One of the benefits of improvement software for construction is that all of your projects are collected in one easy to search database. You can dig into the data to find out why a past try at change didn’t work out so well and how you might approach the problem differently this time.
You are managing people in more than one location
Construction, by nature, involves people working from a variety of locations. Distributed teams are challenging to manage and particularly challenging to engage consistently in Lean. Software is an enormous help. Today’s solutions are almost all cloud-based making it easy for folks to check in and document opportunities for improvement from wherever they happen to be. The best solutions have mobile apps, making it even easier to keep the team connected and focused on Lean.
The culture lacks trust
Because construction work involves people who practice very specialized and diverse work, it is common for there to be a lack of faith between one trade and another or between management and labor. Lean construction software helps build trust by offering an unprecedented degree of transparency.
You need to quantify the impact of Lean
If you’ve decided to implement Lean, you likely have a good idea of what you are trying to achieve or which business obstacles you want to overcome. Perhaps you are struggling with missed deadlines or projects that go over budget. Maybe you want to become more profitable or grow the business. Lean construction software helps you gather all of the information that you need to track your progress to your most important strategic goals. The best solutions include impact reporting that makes it easy to calculate the financial and non-financial impacts of each improvement that gets implemented.
If any of these situations are familiar to you, now is a good time to start looking at your options. The decision to implement Lean will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your firm, but the power of the methodology can be substantially amplified with the muscle of technology behind it.