We’re not going to lie. Implementing any kind of software solution in an organization is not easy. First, you must make sure you select a solution that will actually help address whatever challenge is at hand. Then you have to get it implemented and work out the kinks (there are always kinks). You have to get users trained, and then you face the biggest hurdle of them all – getting people to use the system. Sometimes it all goes smoothly, but challenges are not uncommon.
If you’ve implemented Lean software, you’ve probably faced a few. This post will help you access whether your Lean technology has taken root and give you some ideas for boosting adoption if that’s what’s needed.
How Can You Tell if Lean Software has Taken Root?
Three critical metrics will help you assess the health of your Lean technology. We’ll start with the most apparent activity.
Activity reporting will let you know how many projects are being managed in your Lean solution, how often tasks are being completed, and how many opportunities for improvement have been submitted. It tells you essentially what is happening. Ideally, you’ll see the level of activity increase over time, especially after the initial implementation. If you see a lot of immediate activity, but then the numbers start to decline, that’s an indicator that something isn’t working as it should. You should also be able to get insight into how many projects that get started make it to the finish line and a good sense for how long each type of improvement typically takes.
One mistake we see executives make is only to assess activity. It’s critical, but so is engagement, which is about who is getting involved. One of the biggest reasons to implement Lean software is to spread the culture of improvement far and wide. You may see a lot of activity, but if it is limited to only a few people or teams, there is work to be done.
Engagement and activity are high, but if they aren’t getting results, then what’s the point? The impact of improvements done with the Lean methodology should continue to increase over time. You want to see that the work is improving processes to the point that money is saved, defects decrease, satisfaction numbers improve, and other critical business metrics are trending in the right direction.
What to Do if You Don’t Like What You See?
If your activity, engagement, and impact metrics don’t delight you. Don’t panic. It isn’t unusual for interest to wane after the initial excitement of implementing Lean software. Also, keep in mind that if Lean is new for your organization, people are being asked not just to change their data entry habits, but to adopt a new way of thinking as well. It takes work for both the methodology and the software to become second nature. Here are a few tips on how to get there.
Go back to the beginning
Your organization adopted Lean and implemented technology for a reason. Sometimes it is helpful to stop and remind everyone what you are trying to accomplish and examine the rewards of success. We also suggest reinforcing the principles of Lean so that people understand it isn’t a project, but a paradigm for solving problems and harnessing the collective wisdom of everyone involved.
When we see people disengaged from Lean and the software that supports it, we often find that individual goals and assessments are not aligned with the overall strategic objectives of the organization. This disconnect can actually turn people off and make them feel even more alienated. Make sure that the strategic goals are well understood, that the advantages of achieving them are clear, and that they cascade through the organization to the individual level.
Enlist champions and broadcast success
The power to motivate people to get involved in improvement work is not determined by the org chart. There are likely influencers in your organization who have the ability to rally others to engage. Make sure these people are recognized and empowered to help others along the path. Another great approach is to use your Lean software to broadcast the success of those who use it far and wide.
Assess your approach to training
Lean software should not be difficult to use, but it can be intimidating to people who don’t know precisely what they are supposed to do. It is common for organizations to provide initial training at the launch, but then fail to follow up or have an organized approach to onboarding new employees. If you don't see the results you want, it is a good idea to start an improvement project for your Lean training.
There’s a lot to love about using a Lean software platform, but it isn’t a “set it and forget it” proposition. Don’t panic if there are speed bumps; just apply Lean thinking to any challenges and adjust, assess, and improve as you get ever closer to your ideal future state.