People who read about or study the lean techniques will find that most of what they read is about how to apply these standards to a manufacturing facility. This is where the concept really got its roots, and also where it is most commonly implemented. It is important to realize, however, that in addition to manufacturing facilities the lean concepts can be used anywhere that has any sort of activity with inputs and outputs. You can even use the lean standards in a regular office environment to help improve the efficiency of the activity going on.
While there are hundreds of different types of offices which produce a wide range of different things, you can apply the lean standards to them all. If you work in a call center office, for example, where you are responsible for assisting customers with problems they are having with a specific product. You can look at the calls coming in as inputs and your responses as output. The produce which your providing is customer service and information, and you can add value by improving the perception these customers have.
Running a Lean Office
Unlike a manufacturing facility where a lean facility will result in immediate savings and increased efficiency, the office environment may take slightly longer to implement. This is because much of what needs to be changed is the actions taken by people, and it is almost always easier to change the way a machine works than people. The fact is, however, that it is certainly possible to improve the way just about any office environment works by implementing good lean strategies.
Whether you are putting in place logical concepts which need to be adopted by the employees or traditional strategies it is possible to use lean ideas to help improve the implementation. No matter what types of things your office is working on, it is very possible that you can improve the end product by applying these ideas in an efficient and effective way.
Traditional Lean Strategies Work in an Office Environment
There are also a variety of things in an office environment which work in a very similar way as in an manufacturing facility. If, for example, you have a lot of users who are printing items for their work. You can put in a strategy which will help reduce the amount people print, and beyond that you can also plan ahead for how much paper is being used and the toner for the print jobs. You can have a shipment of printer paper arriving right before you begin to actually run out of paper.
There are a variety of other areas within just about any office which this type of standard can be applied as well. Replacing or upgrading computers is one great example because this needs to be done on a scheduled basis to ensure all your programs will work properly without interruption. Upgrading and improving other items in the office can also be done using the lean philosophy.