How to Make Your Business Operations More Lean

Lean operations enable companies to stay afloat even during the most trying economic times. They show companies how to tighten their proverbial belts, bolster themselves against unexpected events that might lie in the future, and to provide superior levels of customer service while cutting costs. Ultimately, they teach businesses how to make the best possible use of all that they have.

Most companies are lacking in the area of efficiency. They have massive collections of unused hardware and software that they have invested in even while they rely on archaic methods of getting things done. In addition to wasting these resources, they are additionally placing unnecessary demands on their workforce. For instance, sending an administrative assistant to the fax machine several times per day is interrupting that professional’s efficiency and workflow. The same documents that are being sent through outdated equipment can be easily transported by the sender digitally, right from his or her desk.

Small issues like these do not seem like much, but the effects of inefficiency in any area can quickly add up to big losses in the form of profits. This is why companies are not getting the return on investment or ROI that they are seeking. They might be investing too much labor or money into one area, while failing to nourish the next.

The key element of any program to go lean is recognition. Company owners must be willing to admit to both themselves and their employees that there are potential shortcomings in the ways that they are doing things. Without this admission, it is impossible to facilitate the necessary changes for improvements. This is especially true at the highest levels of an organization, where there is almost always a reticent CEO unwilling to step away from safety zones. Team leaders are most often capable of recognizing where their processes are succeeding rather than failing.

There is also the idea that a process can never be entirely efficient, that there must always be at least a moderate amount of waste. This belief is characteristic, however, of team leaders and managers who are either outright or secretly opposed to new change. While there is certainly a measure of risk in adopting new commercial behaviors, these risks become minimized if the new behaviors are well-researched and a proven part of a trusted and successful program.

Leaner operations start with better management. If team leaders are not prepared to inspire people to make change, this can never happen. With more effective management, people will become increasingly motivated and loyal towards the entire endeavor. With greater gains coming in, companies can even implement and maintain wholly desirable incentive programs that fuel the drive to promote company success.

The real starting point is when companies are willing and able to identify areas of redundancies in their programs. They might be overstaffed or they may be using their staff inefficiently. They can be in possession of excess hardware and software or they could be using these things inefficiently. Sometimes the problems are so far reaching that it will take the efforts of every team member in every department to produce feasible suggestions for making change – that’s OK – as long as it is done.

Although it might not seem like one program or solution could possibly work for every business, the Lean Six Sigma Program has proven itself to be effective in nearly every industry and business format. This is because the structure and goals of this philosophy are simple enough to be applied to every  and any business environment – large or small around the whole world. This done is simply to identify and reduce waste, thereby enhancing profits and customer satisfaction; a seemingly simple goal, yet very difficult in practice without the proper training and know-how.