The Benefits of Lean

Lean is a customer-centric philosophy of continuous improvement to maximize value and reduce waste. Doing that, it improves the quality of services and products, subsequently benefiting the customer.

The focus of Lean is to minimize the expenses, workforce, and excessive activities in order to increase the efficiency and eliminate the costs. Therefore, the main idea of Lean is optimising the value-creating processes of the customers to finish the whole operation smoothly.

Lean provides an organisation with many advantages since the correct application of the Lean principles will achieve considerable benefits. The direct benefits are improving quality, smoother operation, more efficient business processes, providing solutions to cut down errors, reducing cycle times, managing process complexity, increasing team productivity and morale, reducing operating costs, reducing lead-time, and many more. All these benefits are possible if Lean is incorporated into your business.

Lean for Service Businesses

Service organisations are very different from a manufacturing company; however, they still have many wasteful processes that could be minimized or completely removed. Therefore, the philosophy of Lean in a service environment remains identical – to realize maximum performance and productivity with minimum resources, besides being more difficult to locate immaterial wastes.

The service companies are under the pressure to provide quicker response times, exceptional customer service, and support for the customers. Lean targets wastes and in that way helps to optimise the service processes. Either Lean will remove the wastes entirely or it will move them to a more efficient state.

The Benefits of Lean in Healthcare

Delivering quality healthcare efficiently is challenging. Healthcare processes have a large avoidable waste component, so Lean is the perfect quality improvement approach. It improves health and the quality of care for patients while saving resources and time. Minimizing waste is not the crucial goal but a means to improve services to the patient. Putting the patient in the first place requires a thinking workforce.

Some benefits of Lean healthcare are:

  • Reducing waiting time for patients
  • Improving hygiene
  • Improving the flow of treatment to patients, without mistakes and accidents
  • Making sure emergency patients are treated with the best protocols without delays
  • Standardizing procedures that create the basis for constant improvement while creating a stable working environment
  • In Lean, all obstacles are found and eliminated, so, the number of patients attended increases, while working with the same equipment
  • Ensuring pharmacies have an optimal level of stocks and avoiding losses due to the expiry of medications
  • Preventing medication errors by error-proofing processes

Applying Lean in healthcare has resulted in improving patient satisfaction, decreasing readmission rates, and decreased the length of stay. The entire workforce has become motivated and they understand that they are identifying and providing value to their patients.

The Benefits of Lean in Law

Increase client profit and satisfaction by reducing waste

The clients get better service by removing waste from legal processes and the work is done faster. In addition, the department stays on the budget since there are fewer costs associated.

Optimize the firm

This includes reviewing the responsibilities of the firm and employees, making sure, if the right people are performing the right tasks. This allows the lawyers to concentrate on the higher complexity jobs.

Minimize over-processing

The amount of work on cases can be disproportionate to the value of the case and that troubles the legal system. One of the solutions of Lean is to improve the communication between lawyers and clients, so the lawyers can understand what exactly their clients want and offer the best given their budget. Also, this means increasing the cooperation with the opposite client.

Use the talent in your office

Lean encourages new ideas from all employees that can result in excellent improvement. It makes the work environment more relaxed, resulting in new and better strategies.

Process mapping

One of the most important benefits of developing a process map is better resource management. It identifies duplicate and wasted effort. It establishes boundaries for a project, preventing the project to spin out into areas that are not part of the plan. Also, it makes sure whether the right level of legal resource is used at every phase. This requires every employee to develop a well-defined picture of the issue and the procedures to address it, keeping everyone involved on the same page.

The Benefits of Lean in Finance Organizations

Lean thinking provides an operating methodology to businesses as banks, investment and insurance companies to maintain process excellence and constantly improve results. It provides with cost-effective solutions and reduces the risks during an economic dip. So, Lean helps transform accounting and finance into high-performing and customer-focused organizations, focusing on delivering value.

Focus on value from your customers’ perspective

It prevents you from performing entire processes that do not produce value but make you waste time improving them.

Eliminate non-value adding activities

Lean is efficient at the identification and elimination of extra processing and overproduction, unnecessary transportation, rework, waiting time, and other non-valued added activities. By mapping the process and finding these tasks, improvement teams can address the waste and considerably improve process performance.

Turn problems into opportunities

The Lean approach to quality views problems as opportunities to advance process capability and improve customer value. It strives to resolve the problems by addressing the source of their origin, as soon as they happen. Once their source is identified, the team modifies the process to avoid the problem from reappearing. This is made by depersonalizing process improvement. The tactic is not to blame the people, but the process. One approach that works well is to refer to the process as the “systems and processes”. People are never reluctant to identify problems with the inanimate systems.

Lean is used widely in the service sector for maximizing value and improving the efficiency of the business. With applying Lean, the business gets more motivated employees, increased customer value. It helps the businesses to do their job better with a more effective strategy, resulting in better, faster, and more effective service to external and internal customers. From the better management of process complexity to improved team morale, it is clear that the benefits of Lean go far beyond the work itself.

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Common Mistakes In The Service Sector And How You Can Solve Them

Along with the advancement of new technologies, customers are becoming more sophisticated, more informed and self-reliant. This puts an additional strain on the companies involved in the service industry as it requires them to become sharper and more effective. Any mistakes and inefficiencies can eventually affect customer satisfaction. The good news is that mistakes can be corrected. See if you’re making any of these and what you can do about them.

Mistake 1: Cutting Costs by Offshoring

In this day and age, many companies choose to offshore a portion of the work that they perform, such as customer service, as a means of reducing costs. While in certain cases offshoring can be an extremely effective way of acquiring talent that would otherwise not be available, doing it solely for the purpose of cutting costs can actually hurt your business.

Offshoring often creates disconnection both within the team and in the business-customer relationship. When customers reach out to the companies, they expect a certain kind of service and may be disappointed if what they receive if not what they were looking for.

Solution: Optimizing Existing Employee Productivity

Since the main argument for offshoring is cutting costs, the same can be achieved by training employees how to optimize their productivity and “eliminate the waste” in their work process. Some of the ways in which it can be done are the following:

  • Teaching how to manage time more efficiently
  • Instructing how to set goals and plan in advance
  • Teaching how to prioritize tasks
  • Discovering additional skills and talents that employees have and offering ways to use them in the workplace
  • Providing clean and comfortable working environment that motivates the employees

Mistake 2: Following Outdated Business Processes

When performing different business processes either with your team or by yourself, you follow a set of steps that makes a task easier and more efficient. Frequently, those used by the company are considered to be set in stone and are rarely if ever changed. Given that everything around us constantly changes and evolves, business processes may become outdated. This may not only decrease the quality of service and make your customers trust you less, but can also demotivate the employees.

Here are some signs that indicate that you may need to update your existing business processes:

  • Dissatisfied customers
  • Increase in negative feedback or reviews from customers
  • Demotivated colleagues and/or employees
  • Missed deadlines
  • Increased expenses

Solution: Regularly Redesigning business Processes

In order to avoid or solve this mistake, business processes need to be continuously revised and updated. And that should be done with the help and input of the employees, because they are the ones who know what and why does not work as intended.

In order to streamline business processes, you can follow the steps below:

  1. Create a schematic of your current process.
  2. Identify the existing weak links. In order to do so you can pay attention to your customers’ feedback. What frustrated or dissatisfies them? What do they complain about? Don’t forget to also pay attention to your colleagues, subordinates, and employees. What frustrates and deflates them? What take them too much time to complete and causes them to miss their deadlines? What requires additional funding?
  3. Redesign your existing processes to eliminate the weak links. Make sure you find a way of involving your team in the process as they may have unique ideas of how these problems can be approached.
  4. Take the actions necessary to implement the changes. Take into consideration the potential expenses that may be required, e.g., additional software or other resources.
  5. Monitor the changes implemented and whether they have brought the desired result.

Keep in mind that changes won’t always equal to immediately improved results. Sometimes, you may be required to adjust the process multiple times. That is not only normal, but natural.

Mistake 3: Lack of People Skills

Some of the greatest mistakes that are made in the service sector are often caused by lack of people skills such as the ability to listen and deal with conflicts and criticism. Because of this, those directly working with customers may not listen to them properly, argue with them, and leave customers feeling like they are being treated like numbers rather than people.

Most standard workplace trainings cover the technicalities of the job, familiarize workers with company policies and standards. However, very rarely they cover essential skills.

Solution: Training Staff for Intrapersonal Skills

Some of the most required interpersonal skills in the service sector are:

  1. Active listening: paying attention to what someone else is saying and responding accordingly
  2. Empathy: understanding how someone feels and being able to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes”
  3. Criticism: how to offer constructive criticism without offending and how to receive constructive criticism without taking offense
  4. Disagreeing: how to respectfully disagree during an argument
  5. Communication: the ability to correctly convey ideas verbally and non-verbally
  6. Negotiation: coming to an agreement with someone who has a conflicting opinion
  7. Problem-solving: effectively solving personal and team problems
  8. Teamwork: ability to effectively complete tasks as a part of a team

These are not only effective in improving employee-customer relationships, but also those between employees, both of which are important for any business involved in the service industry.
There are multiple ways in which interpersonal skills can be improved, such as taking an online class, attending an interpersonal skills class, or hiring a consultant.

Are you making any of these mistakes? What are your approaches to solving them? Don’t hesitate to share your opinion with us.

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