When ‘Lean’ was first introduced, it was primarily an approach for the manufacturing industry to become more productive. Once the value of the core principals was apparent, it then progressed to being adapted within the mainstream business world.
At the heart of ‘Lean’ is a business striving for improvement in the way it operates. Lean centres around creating value for the customer while reducing the amount of resources required of the business. At all stages, the goal is to eliminate waste as much as possible without reducing the quality of the product or service. This is achieved by increasing efficiencies in as many ways possible.
Minimising waste does not mean sacrificing productivity. The idea of identifying elements that are slowing down processes is a positive one. By taking away time consuming and needless tasks it will result in freeing up time that can be used to the benefit of the business.
If we take ‘filing and searching for files’ as an example, we can imagine the waste involved in this process. Time that is taken to print paper, arrange in a lever arch file and placed in a filing area. Then the time taken to manually search for that information, extract it and then re-file it. When this process is repeated many times a month, the wastage is apparent. Compare this to the ‘lean’ method of having full document digitisation and the time saved is significant. Information stored centrally and available at the click of a mouse will certainly be more efficient.
Increased productivity will naturally add to the bottom line and will also create more value that can be passed on to the customer. Lean comes into its own when helping with workloads and improving workflows. This is the positive effect that the employees will see and feel in their daily working life.
When in the midst of moving to leaner processes, it is the time to identify problems and get solutions that add efficiency. Lean helps with continuous improvement which should be the goal of every business, small or large. When keeping the customer at the centre of the business, we wonder what value can be added to improve their experience. Lean can help by cutting the overhead costs, increasing margin and offering better outputs.
If you are considering ‘Lean’ for your business, then converting your paper files to digital will be part of your plan.