Did you know that you can implement a Lean Service? A common misconception many people have is that Lean is only for manufacturing. Although Lean concepts have roots in the manufacturing world, the principles are applicable and have just as much impact to the services industry. Toyota may have made the concepts famous but with todays services industry constituting two-thirds of the economy, Lean principles are becoming more user friendly than before. Below are three key Lean principles that could easily be incorporated into a service business that would improve both efficiency and customer satisfaction.

  1. Define the value

    Probably the most important principle, and for some the most difficult to understand, is defining exactly what the customer values. The best way to answer this question is to ask, “If the customer were standing next to me, what steps in the process would they be willing to pay for and what would they not?” So often, service industries get sidetracked by performing tasks that they think are needed but that the client would not be willing to pay for if they knew about it. Give the client what they want, not what you think they want.

  2. Map the process

    Part of the reason Lean is so well incorporated into manufacturing is because manufacturing is visual; you can easily see the process of the product being developed. Therefore, clearly identifying and visually representing the service process will illuminate any friction or roadblocks in the process.Get a big white board or a blank wall, or some Post-it notes and pens, and map out the steps of the process. This will enable all people involved in the process to fully understand the nuances and challenges of the end-to-end process.

  3. Reduce the waste

    Muda is the Lean phrase for waste, of which there are 10 types. Waste is all the non-value adding activities that should be removed or reduced as much as possible. Below are the three most prominent muda types in the services industry:

  • Work in Progress: Procurement documentation piled up on a desk waiting for signed approval. These documents have stored value in them that is being wasted sitting around waiting for completion.
  • Waste of Motion: A restaurant server having to walk 30 feet every time they transition between the kitchen and the tables. The customer is paying for food, not for the servers’ exercise.
  • Waiting Time: 9 people waiting 10min for a meeting (virtual meetings) to end because the 10th is waffling on. Just add up that total time lost and think what could be accomplished.

Propel has extensive experience in the services industry. We know how to support you in defining the value of your service, facilitate the mapping of your processes and developing solutions for eliminating waste. If you want to learn more about these three Lean principles or how to implement a Lean service within your organization, contact us at Propel Solutions today.




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