Is Lean Thinking Only Applicable to Manufacturing?
Lean’s success has been tried, tested and proven in manufacturing and with the service industry constantly growing, many in the sector are also looking at whether or not the same principles can be applied with the same impact. Some are sceptical and argue that methodologies intended to streamline manufacturing processes cannot simply be replicated within other industries.
However, after becoming familiarised with the core principles of lean, many companies believe that it is not just specific to physical products and that it can be easily shaped and adapted to suit other sectors too.
The fundamental concept of lean is to help businesses establish what is valuable for their customers and then optimise their value creating processes by cutting out waste and to perfect the entire operation so that the service flows smoothly.. Although it can be more difficult to locate intangible wastes in a service environment, the principles of lean remain the same – to achieve maximum productivity and performance with the fewest resources.
Lean for service organisations
Companies in the service sector are constantly under pressure to deliver excellent customer service, faster response times and valuable support for their customers. Lean can help to optimise all service delivery processes by targeting wastes and either removing them completely or move to a more effective state as part of a journey of continuous improvement.
An IT company, for example, is very different from a manufacturing company, however it still has many wasteful processes that could be removed or reduced. Lean tools and techniques can improve the customer experience by reducing unnecessary activities such as the number of call transfers and unnecessary IT processes, whilst also providing solutions to cut down on errors, maximise employee empowerment and become more cost-effective.
Examples of lean services
Lean in the financial sector
Financial firms are a prime example of a service sector that cannot afford to be wasteful, due to strong competition, the impact of the recent financial crisis and vulnerability to economic downturns. Yet, t is claimed that at least 40% of costs in the financial sector are spent on wasteful activities that have no added value to the customer. Although they cannot control the fluctuating economy, financial companies can however invest in refining and redefining their own operations to ensure more effective and customer focused operation.
Lean thinking can provide businesses such as banks, insurance and investment companies with more productive and cost-effective solutions, therefore reducing risk during an economic dip. Lean would also help to improve employee satisfaction, increase customer value and ensure the supporting activities are focused on delivering value..
Lean in marketing services
Marketing companies have so many different processes to their business, that without effective coordination in place, mistakes can easily occur. Every task needs to include a thorough process of planning, writing, designing and proofing to generate a high enough standard of quality for their clients. These ongoing processes are not only extremely time-consuming, but with different tasks being assigned to different departments, project efficiency could also be compromised.
Lean implementation can help marketing companies to streamline their processes by removing tasks that are unnecessary and implementing a much more efficient approach. In doing so, lean also provides a direct improvement on work quality and therefore provides added value for the customer. This allows lean marketing companies to have that added edge over their competitors.
Could you benefit from lean?
If you have a company in the service sector and think that you could benefit from a more effective strategy, then why not consider adopting lean thinking? Not only will you establish a more productive approach, but it will also help you to motivate your employees, increase customer value and improve the efficiency of your business.
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