Lean In 6 – the key principles of lean methodology in Construction

Lean methodology is being adopted more and more in Construction Management – the principles emphasise a perfect balance of maximising value for the customer whilst reducing waste. In essence, this means you get the project done in the least amount of time, using your resources to best effect all while delivering value to the customer. However, many firms fail to fully adopt the benefits of lean methodology, mainly due to tendencies to stick to old ways and resist change!

The key to achieving lean methodology is first to understand the principles to this effective discipline:

  • Defining value (from the customer’s point of view)

Defining what the customer actually wants goes beyond the plans and specifications of what the customer wants you to build. Determining real value includes gaining an understanding of what the customer values and the reasons for this

Understand what the customer wants during the planning phase and include all stakeholders – ask yourself, what does the customer care about?​ What are the value outputs that deliver this at each stage of the process?​

  • Defining or mapping the value stream

This is one of the essential parts of the Lean methodology – once you understand what the client values, you must establish the processes and procedures needed to support this.

  • Eliminating waste at every step

Be honest, do all your defined processes and resources add value to the customer? If not, they must be removed – what is the benefit in doing them? By eliminating unnecessary processes or steps, the customer gets exactly what they want while at the same time delivery costs are reduced.

  • Creating flow of work processes

Once the value stream has been mapped, the next action is to ensure each step runs smoothly with no interruptions or delays. The goal of this is to ensure the ‘flow’ is speedy, predictable and reliable. To achieve this seamlessly, everyone involved needs to continually communicate and work collaboratively.

  • Pull planning and scheduling

Pull planning or scheduling is where teams work in close collaboration with each other and make sure that work is carried out based on demand. Essential to this is having a target date and staying on schedule throughout the project. Work must be released based on downstream demand, and this is best conducted by those who are actually carrying out the work. This is because they are the ones best suited to determine their capabilities and dictate the schedule. Remember, they are the ones working in coordination with subcontractors and customers.

  • Pursuing perfection

Thinking lean and embedding continuous process improvement is key to achieve the last stage. But this one doesn’t come easy, an organisation must embrace learning and improving at a cultural level. Each and every employee must be on board and be striving for perfection.

The argument for Lean is strong – delivering value while discovering and eradicating inefficiencies in an organisation seems like a no-brainer. However, to achieve this takes skill and organisation-wide adoption – are you ready to take on the challenge and realise the benefits?

For more information about Lean in Construction, please contact Tiggy Robinson tiggyr@ninefeettall.com.



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