10 Ways to Reduce Waste With Lean Continuous Improvement

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When trying to implement


ean continuous improvement

projects, quality managers often ask themselves how to cut waste effectively in their organisation. Unsurprisingly, wasteful processes may slow down efficiency – consequently costing a business time and money.

The problem is that change can be just as harmful, maybe even more so than continuing the current process,  if that change is not implemented correctly (which is why

process modelling

is so useful). Reducing waste and creating a

lean organisation

can be successful, if handled carefully and correctly.

Creating a Lean Organisation With Lean Continuous Improvement

Lean continuous improvement projects are all too often carried out by

cutting back

on something that looks


without really

understanding the impact.

This can mean that something is cut that results in

additional costs

elsewhere – which far outweigh the

initial savings


Here are some

ways to reduce waste, create lean organisations

and get the answers on

how to stop wasting money in your business

1. Really Understand How Your Business Works

Businesses and organisations are


. It is this complexity that

leads to businesses wasting money

. Inefficiency can creep in, in so many ways:

  • Inconsistent working

  • Inaccurate working

  • Duplication

  • Production of redundant outputs

These are

just a few

examples. If only a

small amount

of money is wasted each time, as this is repeated, the

costs mount up


The only way to identify these inefficiencies is to

really understand what is done

in your business or

how it works



best way

to do this is to

adopt a process management approach


Every organisation has processes. Every organisation needs a way of understanding the value that process delivers to your organisation

(process map)

and every organisation needs to know how to model improvements and implement them effectively

(Business Process Management)


Below, I have outlined exactly what a process is, what a process map is and what Business Process Management is to give greater understanding to organisations on how to understand and implement lean continuous improvement and create a lean organisation.

What is a Process?

A process is a

series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end

. A process is a transformation.

It transforms inputs into outputs

. For example, a process is the mechanism by which raw materials are converted into products, so baking a cake will involve taking various ingredients (inputs) and producing the cake (output) using the recipe (process).

Processes are best captured in a

process map


What is a Process Map?

A process map sets out in

diagrammatic form

the activities that transform inputs into outputs.

It is very

visual way

of representing

how your business works


Whilst process mapping can be done

just using a process mapping tool

, rather than a full business process management system, the resulting maps (of which there will be

several hundred

) will be

hard to manage


What is a Business Process Management (BPM) System?

This is a system that both enables you to

easily capture

your processes as process maps and also

intelligently houses, manages and reports

on them, allowing you most easily identify

where to save money


It is

not a quick job

to capture

all the end-to-end processes

in a business, so it is best to start with an area of the business which is believed to be


and process map that in the first instance.

Alternatively, start with a process that is

repeatedly performed

– small efficiency gains in these processes

quickly result in a lot of money saved


In the past years, the rapid rise of cloud computing has also reached Business Process Management – so, these days, many business owners also consider getting started with a cloud-based rather than on-premises BPM system. If you’re interested in the possibilities of cloud-based BPM systems, feel free to learn more here:

2. Focus on the Outputs

As we have seen, a process is a transformation, it transforms Inputs into Outputs.

And it is the Outputs that really count.

It is very easy for all of us to spend every day busy doing things, but if we aren’t producing anything – there is no Output – it is very likely that

what we are doing is wasteful.

This is very quickly picked up when actually doing the process mapping; keep asking the question –

what is produced?

3. Ask the Person Who Does the Job

Whilst the person who does the process mapping doesn’t need to be the person who does the job, their input is really important. They, more than anyone, will know

where the inefficiencies are

and often are

just waiting to be asked

about them. They are also likely to have some pretty

good ideas


what should be changed

to make the process

more efficient – and save money.

4. Look at the Handover Points

This is often where the

most business waste

arises. One department produces something and it is not quite in the format that the receiving department needs it, so it

needs to be reworked

to make it useful. Or the receiving department

no longer use it at all!


Even though effective lean continuous improvement may take some time, once inefficiencies are picked up at the process handover points, and once addressed, the changes made can

immediately start to save money.

5. Look for the Bottlenecks

If something is waiting to be dealt with at a pinch point or bottleneck, then it’s

not delivering any value

during all that time.

Ask where the bottlenecks are

– so that they can be tackled first.

Lean organisations are exceptional at finding the steps in a process that aren’t delivering any value. If you find these and fix them appropriately, then you’ll be surprised at how effective your lean continuous improvement project is in addressing and cutting out waste quickly.

6. Involve the Person Who Owns the Process

The Process Owner is the person who has the


to change a process. Involve them in the process mapping, and then if a change is to be made, they can say then and there that it is approved.

7. Implement Best Practice

Very often the same process is delivered in different ways in different parts of the business. Once the correct process is captured (the correct process as it looks right now),

the best practice process

– the one which is

most efficient

– can be

identified and adopted throughout.

8. Capture Key Data at the Process Level

Using a BPM system which allows a business to

capture and report

on key data at the process level (attach data to the shapes in the process maps) is so valuable to a lean organisation. This allows

less obvious inefficiencies

to be

identified and addressed

. It also enables you to


just how much money has been saved.

9. Model Potential Improvements

Once you have a process model of how your organisation

currently works

, this is the start point for

modelling future options

. Your BPM system should allow you the capability to model

different scenarios for improvement

, enabling you to

understand the impacts

before they are made. Thereby

avoiding a great deal of upheaval

with no money saved.

10. Continually Look for Ways to be More Efficient

Identifying inefficiencies should not be a

one-off exercise,

but a


exercise of looking at what you currently do and improving it. This is the key to lean continual improvement. You won’t have a perfect organisation after the first process changes are made, but with a continual focus on continually improving processes, you will have an ongoing increase in quality, customer satisfaction and efficiency.

If you want to dive a little deeper into lean continual improvement and want to know what it takes to be a lean organisation; take a look at the

Business Improvement E-book


which shows how 8 companies went from process problems to continual lean improvement.

Related articles:

What are the 7 Wastes That are Killing Business Efficiency?

How this Successful Process Mapping Example Resulted in £350k ROI [Infographic]

How Cloud BPM Creates Business Process Improvement Opportunities

This is is a syndicated post. Read the original at blog.triaster.co.uk

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