Henry Ford said it best when he stated to the world “You can have any colour you want as long as it’s black” This statement optimizes the thinking behind Lean Manufacturing principles as Ford introduced this rule to speed up the production process of the Ford Model T.
In todays uncertain financial times it is becoming more and more imperative that businesses look at their activities and focus in on minimising unnecessary costs, reducing waste and improving inefficient procedures.

The administration costs within any organisation represent a significant element of the total business overhead and the office environment is as targetable for process improvement as any traditional manufacturing or production procedures. Offices around the world are reaping the benefits of lean as it continues to evolve beyond manufacturing introducing it they are removing waste, saving significant money and increasing efficiency.

Lean relies on some proven tools and techniques to succeed – at the heart of these the target is to minimize wasteful activity and focus on adding value to the end product and meet customer requirement – Process waste can be understood through using the model of the 7 wastes. The 7 wastes – Overproduction, Waiting, Motion, Transport, Over processing, excessive Inventory and defects. Anything that does not add value to the product or service is waste.

In order to capture the current state of the process including both value add and non value add elements – organizations typically use a process mapping method called Value Stream Mapping. Value stream mapping provides a central view of all business processes as they are now, mapping the material and information flows and can be used to construct a future state process portraying the process once “leaning” has taken place.

Introducing Lean Office principles has many benefits but most importantly:
• It identifies problem areas –Lean Office principles assist in identifying problem areas and bottlenecks within a business. By using lean tools and techniques problem areas are identified and can be eliminated.
• It increases business efficiency – Implementing lean office procedures will have significant impact on the efficiency of staff. You can ensure that all members of staff are spending time adding value to the customer experience – and any time saved is redirected to value add tasks.
• It saves money – Reducing the overhead in paperwork means that you may not have to take on that extra person to help with the admin. Lean Office principles allow you to identify where savings have been made.
• It simplifies processes – During the natural expansion of a business, processes can get bureaucratic, time intensive and ultimately uncontrollable. Lean Office techniques identify inefficiencies and remove them.
• It helps conform to rules & regulations and codes of conducts – If your business has to conform to Rules & Regulations or codes of conduct then through standard processes Lean Office Principles can help ensure compliance.

A natural benefit of Lean Office principles is the streamlining of all processes which in turn links in with the identification of problem areas in other aspects of the business. It is quite common for businesses to not only create a Lean Office but also establish lean as an improvement activity across the whole business which results in an organisation which is able to service its customers better and most importantly know that they are doing things right.

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