Project Kaizen

Bringing the power of continuous improvement to the project setting

Use Rough Numbers to Begin Improving Actions

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There is no reason to let the lack of measurements get in the way of starting improving activities. I was reading an eWeek essay by Peter Coffee, Counting the Ways, that got me thinking about the 6σ approach to improvement. That approach is basically data-driven. Without measurements there are no improvements. Coffee said,

“Most businesses have no idea what they spend on unproductive hours.”

And we know unproductive hours—waste—exists everywhere. What can you do? Start with the Last Planner System®.

One of the first things I do with clients is to do a time-value analysis (TVA) of their value streams. Inevitably, about half of employee time is spent on non-value-added activities. In lean terms, this is both type-1 and type-2 waste. In addition, white-space—waiting for something to happen—makes up more than 50% of the cycle-time duration. These rough numbers are good enough to get you started with kaizen.

Removing white-space has an immediate effect on the business. It shortens the cycle-time and produces a one-time increase in cash flow. As attractive as that is, it isn’t necessarily easy to accomplish. It requires reliability throughout, particularly in the project setting. The one way I know to do that is with the Last Planner System® and a practice of securing reliable promises. Get started on removing the waste associated with variation. Use the Last Planner.

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