The lean methodology may be the most popular construction project management methodology being adopted today. Lean construction management prioritizes customer value to drive workflows, minimize waste and optimize processes. Lean construction operations streamline processes and lead to numerous benefits. Learn what you can expect from adopting lean construction practices and how to do so in your organization.
A core tenet of lean methodology (and the most significant benefit) is the reduction of waste in construction processes. A common assumption is waste is merely materials that go unused and unneeded on a project site. However, waste is defined in lean as any material, action or process that is costly, inefficient, time-consuming and takes value away from the customer. Lean practices don’t only lead to reduced physical waste, but also reductions in rework, overproduction, wait times, unneeded personnel utilization, excess inventory, processing time and motion waste. When construction firms apply lean construction principles to their project management practices, all forms of waste are significantly reduced.
Minimized Environmental Impact
The environmental footprint of construction projects is a consistent focus of construction companies and project owners. The adoption of lean principles and circular economy practices go hand in hand which allows builders to reduce their negative impact on the environment. Reducing and eliminating waste in construction projects can mean reduced transportation emissions, better materials sourcing and a higher quality delivery. Applying supply chain practices that are better for the global ecosystem aligns with a lean philosophy and improves the environmental footprint.
Strengthened Quality Control
Reducing waste is a very noble endeavor, however, the construction business ultimately comes down to the quality of your build. Lean construction can also improve construction quality control practices. Due to lean’s focus on continuous improvement of processes, the quality of your deliverables and quality control protocols lead to the removal of extraneous processes. Identifying the best way to deliver value to customers means that your result is more likely to meet the expectations of clients and stakeholders.
Improved Customer Satisfaction
The ultimate goal of any lean business is to deliver exactly what the customer wants with the least possible waste. Lean project delivery is all about optimizing processes to cater to customers' needs for high-quality results in a timely and cost-efficient manner. Research shows a strong correlation between organizations that implement lean construction practices and project completion times. In fact, lean projects are three times more likely to finish on time and two times more likely to be completed under budget. The adoption of lean construction methods facilitates a high-quality delivery within project timelines and budget—meaning happy customers.
Waste reduction and efficient processes prevent financial losses as a result of wasted materials, resources and time. In an industry where materials are expensive and orchestrating teams is complex and time-consuming, the more waste that your company produces, the higher your project costs will be overall. Eliminating waste and optimizing workflows creates an ecosystem for companies to increase productivity and financial earnings by adopting lean construction principles in their operations.
How to Adopt Lean Construction Methods
Implementing lean construction methods in your organization is simpler than you may realize. Rather than following strict rules, lean practices are about adhering to a cycle of continuous improvement based on five overarching principles:
- Customer value- Learn what customers want and focus on why. Strive to give them the most value without compromising cost and efficiency in all processes.
- Value stream- The value stream is the flow of resources and personnel needed to produce positive outcomes for customers. Ensure all processes, people and materials needed to complete projects are included in your value stream.
- Workflow- A continuous, reliable and predictable workflow is a necessity in lean practice. Performing operations in the correct order and maintaining constant communication, note-taking and reporting are key, especially in the construction industry.
- Pull planning- Engage all team members in collaborative and holistic scheduling. Ensure all stakeholders learn about project milestones, requirements and potential bottlenecks in order to orchestrate a successful project.
- Continuous improvement- Identify opportunities for improvement and work to change processes for the better in all areas of operations.
Flexible software plays a crucial role in adopting and optimizing lean processes in construction organizations. A digital construction management system facilitates better communication between project teams and contractors by allowing communication in real-time and cutting down on email clutter. Construction management software also bolsters collaboration by creating a more intuitive work management environment with the ability to assign tasks, approve assets, organize dashboards and automate tedious tasks. Finally, digital tools provide better access to valuable data. Insight reports are generated using quality analytics rapidly. Effectively adopting lean methods in your construction practices in your organization is made easier through the enablement of a flexible construction management platform.
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