Lean Implementation. Is There A Best Way To Implement Lean?

The concept of lean management is identified as a well-organized process that can be considered and implemented at a number of areas and also a commitment which refers to a procedure of growth and enhancement, that can considerably influence an organization's prosperity, performance and competitiveness. Lean can eliminate severe organizational issues and, in addition, can be an influential approach to collect and merge several transformation initiatives that are functioning currently throughout an enterprise. When corporate executives initially come across case studies of lean execution they may be exceptionally passionate and ready to implement the process to their own enterprise.

Though, when the same corporate executives start to investigate and explore lean management strategies and techniques, they can be overwhelmed and discouraged from assigning themselves to establishing such a policy. Despite such challenges, different types and level of information accessible are explored, as journal editorials and case studies all stress on lean management execution. This question is emphasized on assessing the best way to implement lean strategies and how to perform them in practice.

Lean as a method requires employees at all levels to advance performance issues and observe measures which they establish themselves. As a result, it is appropriate to put efforts on a specific initiative or project, rather than following universal or strategic objectives, which, if executed along with lean philosophy, will result in significant enhancement for the enterprise. All measures and activities linked with lean have to be strictly led and assisted. Preferably, the lean approach should obtain a high outline and the project should include all important players involved in the program or course of action. Moreover, it has been stated that energy which is used by all members of the lean program is focused initially on achieving short-term objectives in order to put a preventive ‘error free’ resolution to achieve long-term objectives.

Many experts in the field consider that pursuing short-term objectives is the wrong way to implement lean management, though sometimes actions and time are not always on the positive side, while commitment is by liability something, no matter what, to repair things in the modern world, which shows a strong aspiration for action. The best approach is to take initiatives to drive further organizations to prevent organizational issues, though it is achievable if a company has a strong desire or planning. Using the qualities of the employees in the lean process is essential. Employees who put efforts, rather than those who supervise the process, possibly have more than 80 per cent of the solutions. The level and focus of programs can be aligned to service, operational or production issues. There is a great deal of development to be made in many enterprises, particularly in the service or support sectors.

Functionalism frequently blinds individuals to the real benefits of cooperating together, across limitations for the best outcome in any setting. The best way to implement lean is to integrate all organizational functions and processes and to establish cross functional teams. This will help enterprises drive change and stimulate supportive action strategies between organizational functions, as integration will never arise while corporate executives are comfortable in their functional structure.

Organizational Structure

By establishing a lean manufacturing plant, companies do not make a lean business. In order to implement lean efficiently, it is vital to recognize the company by value stream, which means rearranging the well-structured departments. Some experts do not go that far but evidently argue to change the processes/functions of internal stakeholders, particularly customers and suppliers within the business field. Though, different departments within the organization have to play an active role in the lean implementation process.

Incorporation of Manufacturing

One of the core objectives is to reduce waste and time, as well as the manufacturing of new products (product-, process expansion, and industrialization), which has to be completed in a very limited period of time. In addition, in order to manufacture zero defect products, it is important to be guaranteed sustainably that a product can be produced efficiently. As a result, designers and engineers have to utilize mistake-proofing machineries into the products and operations wherever practicable and key operational stricture must be taken into account. Instruments for lead time reduction are simultaneous engineering, machineries for quality assurance for production and design for manufacturing.

Incorporation of Quality Control

In the Toyota Production System (TPS), quality control personnel needs to be highly experienced and trained to solve manufacturing problems. They take the leading role in examining faulty parts that are rejected by consumers and establish systems that facilitate them to guarantee quality, i.e. making a decision to further inspect faulty parts. They have to utilize self-diagnostic examination into manufacturing processes to activate immediate problem solving.

Integration of Financial Department

Most financial accounting functions involve standard financial systems. Manufacturing experts, engineers and controllers, who generally establish the principles, include non-financial tasks like rework, redrafting, modifying or long operational planning into practical documents and therewith into financial calculations and may feel comfortable when a unit is functioning at 110 per cent of standard. Integration of finance emphasizes traditional costing systems to actively stimulate non-lean behaviors. One of the key measures of financial personnel is to utilize machines and to calculate the total amount of overhead captivated by production. This does not take long for managers and operators to discover that the best method to demonstrate good results is to set quantities and to establish inventory management.

Incorporation of HR Department

The human resource function has to maintain the organizational change features of the lean implementation process. As teams become independent and authorized, HR managers have to act much more supportive than in traditional enterprises. Traditional based incentive programs generally motivate or instruct workers to manufacture inventory; or sometimes, worse, bonuses are even compensated for producing faulty parts. As a result, it is a vital HR task to establish systems where employees are paid for showing high productivity. As transformed customer demand may lead to faster manning capacity adjustment, a system that ensures flexible employees allocation has to be arranged. As lean implementation requires minimal input resources, as mass manufacturing and corporate growth will not always attract the entire organization, corporations may be required to announce redundancies. Human resource has to develop the policies, i.e. rearranging HR functions. For instance, looking at the Japanese manufacturing plants in the United States, job satisfaction and job security are much advanced compared to the situation in the US automobile companies.

Incorporation of Sales and Marketing Department

Initially, sales and marketing have to generate a good prediction, as production can be used to calculate or predict Takt time. Very often, marketing functions cannot respond promptly to changing market demands as marketing personnel has to be skilled, qualified, or additional IT capacity has to be established and traditional tools might take longer to analyze market targets, which might not be properly updated. In addition, they have to sell the lean benefits, such as shorter time or cheaper costs due to lower waste or advanced productivity.

Incorporation of Purchasing Department

The purchasing division takes an important role in developing a relationship with suppliers, i.e. incorporating them into the own supply chain with Kanban approach. As a result, purchasing personnel needs to be specialized in lean manufacturing to implement it effectively, particularly in Value Stream Mapping (VSM) and Kanban. As not all wholesalers react to lean programs, lean corporations might end up with limited suppliers. Though, as these may become long-term associated, there will be advantages. It has been reported that even Japanese encountered difficulties in introducing lean with their suppliers due to the economic recession and due to legal limitations against excessive deliveries of parts, which increase fuel costs.

Internal Management: Reward and Compensation System

It is vital to have a reward structure for employees that compensates organizational effort over single personnel effort. While, on the other side, senior executives sometimes criticize the idea to offer additional compensation in order to encourage the workforce to implement a lean strategy effectively instead of being processing slowly. Therefore, a certain subject arises whether companies should reward lean success or not. Moreover, skills, capabilities and resources are also essential in utilizing lean, as personnel is required to be 100 per cent committed to the process of lean execution. Companies frequently struggle to empower dedicated personnel towards permanent enhancement.

Are All Organizations Suitable for Lean Implementation?

Lean production is essential in today's international setting where buyers, suppliers, sellers, and control management are committed to instantly fulfilling customer needs with ideal products and services. Consequently, large companies now focus on getting very limited sizes, multiple forms and quick answers from suppliers. Companies have been further progressing by rapid transformation to adjust in this new setting and reducing costs while enhancing quality and awareness. The traditional financial approach has been to produce a product at a prearranged cost then add a turnover to obtain the selling price. The lean production financial model is emphasized on the cost that the customer is agreeable to pay for the goods. The lean producer subtracts the expenditure involved in producing the product from the market value to obtain the profit and net earnings.

Lean production is more than a set of skills and techniques. Lean production is a solid organizational culture in which all personnel continuously searches for ways to enhance organizational processes. It is a management scheme and arrangement of practices to remove all non-value actions, measures or waste, throughout an organization’s complete structure. The essential objective of lean production is to reduce time from the acknowledgment of an order all the way through the receipt of delivery. The results of minimum time means advanced productivity, effective delivery timings, lower cost, enhanced quality, and improved customer satisfaction.

Currently, lean production can be used by all companies operating in different sectors. Though, it will take few years to become conventional and to get substantial success. Lean manufacturing can be found in multinational corporations, as well as in small and medium companies, and even quite small enterprises. Most of the large companies rely on the guidance of few lean production experts. However, many SMEs do not have lean production expertise in the organization. It is universal that few individuals have tried to join a lean manufacturing seminar or interpret a few books, but the lack the knowledge and proficiency to develop a path map might pose significant challenges to the adequate implementation of a lean approach in practice.

Most producers have taken notice of lean manufacturing and Six Sigma. Several stakeholders have effectively used these verified process enhancement methodologies to increase productivity, enhance the front line and advance quality and the overall customer experience. Unfortunately, many producers and enterprises generally have been unable to understand the principles of Lean Six Sigma. There are many reasons companies cannot or are unable to utilize Lean Six Sigma. The approach of Lean Six Sigma is one of the components of lean manufacturing and is only suitable for larger enterprises. One of the most common comments heard from SMEs owners is "they are unable to break the barrier". The "barrier" means having limited cash tied up inventory or account receivables even though the company is money-making. It may mean the incapability to balance or advance the production with the same resources. Sometimes the "barrier" means constant personnel turnover or overtime. Other times, it means not offering the same scale of quality and special customer service when someone started the business. 

Though, Lean Six Sigma may have been invented in lean manufacturing, the philosophy applies similarly to financial transactions and service settings. In fact, the service sector has more waste than the production sector, principally because a substantial part of the efforts and deliverables in the service industry are "invisible", with no tangible components. Taking into consideration whenever companies have fairly repeatable functions (i.e., employee on-boarding, ordering management, delivery, billing, or accounts owed), with quantities driving it, and workers are gathering data about the process, they have all the elements to influence the philosophy of Lean Six Sigma. Corporations like Volkswagen, General Motors, Opel, Coca Cola and many others have in the meantime established their own manufacturing systems following the model of Toyota. Irregular anxiety on expenditures, quality and customer service, particularly in the automotive sector, obliged organizations to constantly enhance their organizational functions.

The mentioned organizations are represented as facing a persistent challenge in terms of managing adequately competitive operations in the global market. In their attempts to become lean organizations, they might face certain obstacles associated with excessive spending. It is apparent that the global market dictates the selling price for products, implying that companies need to reduce their costs if they want to generate profits over time. The implementation of the lean approach to management might be a challenging task especially if organizations do not possess the necessary capacities and resources to handle such a substantial change. However, SMEs might receive additional assistance regarding different stages of lean implementation in order to gain a strong competitive edge in their industry of operation.

It can be argued that good lean implementation practices are focused on achieving appropriate targets in both the short term and long term. When SMEs adopt essential lean strategies, they might need further assistance to bring this change to a successful end. In fact, it can be stated that the initial reorganization occurring in the workplace as a result of lean implementation might be insufficient. Further techniques are needed to strengthen the position of companies which decided to implement lean. Another important phase from the process of lean implementation includes substantial changes pursued in patterns of management behaviors, as the focus is on empowering teams and helping them make proper decisions. The transition to lean management is associated with adequate synchronization of organizational processes and tasks to meet the demands of the market. In conclusion, the use of a lean management approach has been identified as viable in the contemporary marketplace, and thus many organizations consider the benefits of implementing lean as illustrated in this paper.

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