If you are considering a Lean management system to boost your efforts at continuous improvement and waste reduction, it’s a smart move. Technology helps bring people together, ensure accurate data, collect organizational knowledge, and speed the progress of Lean projects. It also gives leaders greater insight into the health of Lean across the entire organization.
We’ve helped scores of companies get up and running on a Lean management system and have learned the keys to success. If you follow these tips, you’ll set yourself up for smooth sailing.
Start by choosing the right system
This may be obvious, but software selection is critical. It’s also essential that you get a partner that can provide added value with informative resources and excellent support. We’ve written about this in detail here, but these are some of the key factors to look for:
Customizable dashboards – People won’t use the solution if they can’t navigate to exactly what they need quickly. Learn more.
Robust reporting – Your Lean management system will contain a ton of valuable data, make sure getting it out in a meaningful way is easy. Learn more.
Alerts and smart notifications – Email alerts and notification help keep teams in sync and make sure that nothing falls through the cracks. Learn more.
Device independence – Folks should be able to interact with the system on any device they choose, any time of day, from anywhere.
Don’t try to solve culture problems with technology
Lean management technology is a support for Lean culture, not a substitute for it. If the Lean mindset isn’t valued by people at every level of the organization, you won’t get the engagement necessary to see the software accelerate your path to improvement. Leaders should demonstrate the Lean philosophy by supporting related projects and providing the resources needed to make improvement happen. The reports generated by the solution should reflect how the organization measures success - including metrics around engagement and activity, as well as impact.
Provide adequate training
If Lean is new to your organization, keep in mind that you are introducing a new business methodology and a new technology at the same time. Teaching people how to click through the software is NOT going to create a culture of continuous improvement! Take the team to really ingrain the Lean philosophy of adding value. They’ll need to be educated about Lean principles, as well as the tools you’ll use to achieve them. This video series if a great place to start.
There is often resistance to using any new technology because it can take a while for people to recognize the benefits. Especially in the beginning, it is essential to incentivize adoption by recognizing the folks who are making use of the new tool. It also helps to make participating in Lean and documenting that work part of every employee’s performance expectations. You can also incentivize adoption by broadcasting successful projects and explaining how they have benefited the company, your customers, and the employees involved.
Have a plan for onboarding new employees
We’ve seen even companies that do an excellent job of training during the initial rollout make the grave mistake of failing to have a plan to bring new employees up to speed. Long after your initial Lean classes are completed and most employees are humming along, you’ll inevitably have turnover. Have a plan for training in both Lean and the Lean management system for all new employees.
Make it clear how people can get help
Ideally, the solution you choose will be intuitive and easy to use, but there’s no software on the planet that doesn’t require support. We recommend having one or more subject matter expert on your team who are the “power users” of the solution. They can serve as the first line of help for others and determine when support from the vendor would be useful. These users can also be powerful advocates for Lean management and help increase adoption.
Never forget that improvement processes can be improved! Make sure the team knows they can submit opportunities for improvement if they think that the system could be configured in a more efficient or helpful way. If there are suggestions for positive change, use the PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) method to get closer to perfection.
Implementing any type of software takes thoughtful attention to detail and a little patience. Your Lean management system rollout will go smoothly if you take these best practices into account.