Lean FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions
Learn about Lean and Six Sigma
Most frequently asked questions about Lean Courses
National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)
Qualifications frameworks describe the qualifications of an education and training system and how they interlink. National qualifications frameworks describe what learners should know, understand and be able to do on the basis of a given qualification. These frameworks also show how learners can move from one qualification, or qualification level, to another within a system. Over 150 countries are now developing, or have developed, a national qualifications framework. The Irish NFQ was established in 2003. There are 10 levels on the framework. The Lean Tools programme leads to a Level 5 award.
The first step is to think of every business as a series of processes.
To quote Edwards Deming “If you can’t describe what you do as a process, then you don’t know what you are doing”
Our view is that Finance, HR, IT, Manufacturing, Sales, Engineering, Product Innovation and marketing are all processes.
Lean thinking can be applied to any process in any organisation
The 12 week Lean tools programme takes a number of formats.
The ManagementWorks version consists of 5 offsite days and 8 half days mentoring on-site.
Usually a business will send 3 or 4 participants on the programme.
The onsite time is split between participants and may be approx one hour per person.
The mentoring time is used to apply the learning from the programme to the specific improvement project chosen by the participant.
The QQI award is based on submitting work on 10 tasks, most of which will be included in the project.
Ideally, Lean should start from the top. The senior management of the company must commit to a Lean approach.
The role of the Senior management team is to have a clear vision for the company and identify the strategy and goals that will move the company in this direction.
Customer requirements should be clearly understood and defined in real terms.
Business KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) must be established to monitor performance against expectations. Avoid selecting too many KPIs which can dilute the effort and cause confusion. Better to have fewer clear top-level KPIs which will impact customers and bottom line.
Establish strong communication channels so that every employee is aware of the business strategy and KPIs, current performance and how their roles impact on results.
At this point, each individual company may employ a different approach. The approach is highly dependent on the maturity of the organisation and management team and on the existing culture within the business. Previous ‘false starts’ with past initiatives may result in a sceptical workforce reluctant to adopt change.
Ideally, a business will appoint a Lean co-ordinator who will assist in identifying training requirements, bring in external help as required, monitor the programme and communicate results.
An initial analysis of customer requirements and ‘waste’ should highlight potential areas to begin a Lean improvement. Decide how many improvements the business can handle at any one time.
The starting point will vary depending on the business. Ideally, keep the scope small and look to achieve quick wins in local areas (focus on one area, customer, product line or process). The Lean drive must be process-focussed and not department-focussed.
Use a structured approach to identify the process to be tackled, the business case, the goal, the team and the timelines. Ensure that those who operate the process are represented in the improvement team.
- Ensure that all decisions are data-based
- Plan improvements based on process analysis
- Pilot solutions before investing in significant capital
- Standardise, document and establish the improved procedures
Applying Lean principles is a systematic approach to focussing a business on its customers’ requirements and removing non-value adding activities from its processes.
Implementing Lean can help your company:
- Increase productivity
- Improve your product or service quality
- Reduce costs
- Reduce scrap
- Avoid rework
- Increase inventory turns
- Improve customer satisfaction
- Decrease required floor space
- Expand services with less
- Shorten customer fulfilment lead times
- Improve capacity utilisation
- Maximise invested capital
- Achieve customer loyalty and retention
- Improve morale
Implementing Lean in the office can help:
- Avoid rework
- Eliminate excessive hand-offs, returns, and duplicate work
- Reduce documentation processing time
- Improve end-to-end process flow and accuracy
- Improve lead-time to customers
- Integrate technology more effectively
- Improve communication across departments and minimise conflicts
- Free up people to do strategic and proactive work
- Make individual and departmental responsibilities crystal clear
- Create a more focused and profitable organisation