Lean manufacturers allover the world are trying to eliminate waste from their systems in order to achieve cost reductions, time savings, and flexibility and so on. In current context lean manufacturing and its concepts has gone far beyond the boundaries of manufacturing and reached many other industries including services like health care. On the other hand now lean thinkers want their offices to be lean to get the advantages of lean principles.
One key focuses of lean manufacturing is elimination of work in progress from the system. In a traditional manufacturing environment where WIP is treated as a must have to run the production, finding, quantifying and removing it might be easier. But in an office context what anyone would mean by WIP. How to quantify and target and remove it from the system?
WIP is the unfinished work a system carries. In an office this would mean unread emails or emails read but no actions taken, files which are not closed and so on. It is important to create a system where you can expose the waste and see where the waste is in the system. In an office you must setup these indicators and these will be very important in the efforts of making your office lean.
Even an office can be driven in pull basis. That is the work can be carried out when it is required by the immediate customer whether it is an internal customer or an external one. This will make your office WIP free. Of cause some of the offices or some parts of them may not be able to operate in this manner. But the reality is most of the places can be operated with a JIT system.
No matter how well your manufacturing facility works, your office can add many days in to your lead time, and many dollars to your costs. So it is a worthier try to get your office lean if you are a manufacturer. If you are just a service provider use lean concepts to fulfill your requirements and to harvest the advantages offered by lean manufacturing.
Lean concepts are reaching a wider audience in today’s context. By applying lean concepts in office context one can benefit greatly. Lean office is the key to unleash the full power and the advantages of lean manufacturing to the customer. Locating and eliminating WIP and waste in an office can be difficult than in a manufacturing environment.