Our standard answer when we get asked, “What kind of businesses need Lean software,” (which happens quite a lot), has always been that businesses in every industry including healthcare, construction, software, engineering, and even higher education benefit from Lean software. And that’s true, but the industry labels tell only part of the story. Lean is industry agnostic, but there are certain business conditions under which Lean software can have an enormous impact. So this post will look at the business attributes that signal an organization stands to make huge gains with Lean technology.
Businesses with Multiple Locations or Remote Workers
These days people frequently work from home, and many companies have multiple locations or worksites. One of the most significant advantages of Lean software is that it makes it possible for people to contribute to improvement and collaboration from where ever they happen to be. Practices like daily huddles or Kanban boards don’t make much sense for distributed workforces, but with Lean software, they can be effectively leveraged without the need for in-person encounters.
Practices that work well for small teams can quickly become unwieldy when the organization starts to grow. Lean software offers a platform to create consistency and alignment no matter how big the team becomes. The other advantage for growing business is that it provides a way to ensure that new employees are engaged in Lean practices and spread improvement culture among the new hires.
Businesses with a High Cost of Failure
Sometimes called “High Reliability Organizations,” these are businesses where defects risk more than an economic cost. Healthcare, energy, airlines, and emergency services are all examples of organizations that must perform or people’s lives may be at risk. These types of organizations must take extreme measures to avoid defects and to implement corrective action when they occur. Lean software streamlines preventative and corrective actions, ensuring that systems and processes work optimally every time.
Businesses with Ambitious Long-Term Goals
The key to achieving breakthrough, game-changing goals (usually in the three to five-year time frame) is organizational alignment. Every person from the CEO to the front-line employees must understand the objectives and know how their work supports the goals. Decisions about which improvements should be implemented need to be made with the goals in mind. Lean software allows leaders to cascade goals down through the department, team, and individual levels. It also gives everyone insight into how much progress is been made.
Businesses with Tight Margins and Stiff Competition
When every penny counts, and someone is standing by to take your customer away, waste reduction is the key to survival. Retail, construction, and manufacturing spring to mind. Lean software helps employees target the eight wastes of lean: transportation, motion, over-processing, over-production, waiting, inventory, defects, and wasted human potential. The ideal goal is a production system where every element adds value to the customer. Lean software allows every worker to identify opportunities to improve incrementally and reduce waste.
Businesses with Persistent Problems
If your business has struggled with the same problem month after month, year after year, it is time to consider Lean software. Perhaps customer satisfaction scores aren’t improving despite management’s best efforts, or maybe workplace accidents happen way too frequently. Whatever the challenge, if it isn’t going away, getting regular input from employees in the form of opportunities for improvement will probably shed light on the reasons why and potentially offer solutions that will work once and for all.
Businesses Dedicated to Employee Development
The great thing about Lean software is that it gives every employee the opportunity to be a leader. By submitting ideas for improvement and becoming engaged, employees can expand their skill set and step out of their comfort zone. With lots of improvements to manage, more people can be given the chance to spearhead a project or facilitate an improvement event. Another advantage is that leaders can easily broadcast successful improvements and recognize people who are causing positive change.
We don’t mean to sound flippant when we say that almost every business can benefit from Lean software, but there aren’t too many out there that don’t fall into one of these categories (or more). That’s why we have so many folks coming to us to talk about the advantages of Lean software as it relates to their specific situation. We’d be delighted to chat about yours.