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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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