Lean Project Management | Benefits & Pitfalls

What is Lean Project Management?

Lean is an attitude, a way of thinking and Lean Project Management harnesses that attitude to run a project more efficiently and to deliver a better result to customer or client. Lean is a systematic approach to eliminating waste.

Lean project management helps to remove bottle-necks of project and that way speed up the project by elimination waste as it goes.

Lean Project Management is a more like an attitude how to deliver a project and an attitude how to eliminate waste in a project environment to make a project more efficient more productive to serve a customer or client better.

Lean Project Management

Background of Lean Project Management

A lean project management system is inspired by Toyota where they use the following principles;

  • Muda – Eliminating the Waste

Anything you do or deploy resources that do not add any value to the project or deliver any benefit to project stakeholders is called Muda

  • Muri – Overburden

Muri is doing the most stuff under pressure, over-stress and this not good to any kind of resources. It will lead to more waste product which is undesirable at any stage of the project. Lean project Management applies this principle to deliver a better result and ultimately respect the resources.

  • Mura – Inconsistency

Mura is doing the same things in an inconsistent way. This can be overcome by applying standardization to procedures.

Lean Project Management Techniques

Some Lean management techniques don’t necessarily translate well to project environment like Six Sigma some of them do like DAMIAC, Agile Project Management, KANBAN, Plan – Do – Review that is a scrum methodology.

There is the number of methodologies and techniques to implement lean project management a careful observation can help which one is to chose.

Here, is the list of all the lean methodologies

Six Sigma – Focus on Quality & Waste Elimination

Deming Cycle – PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act)

Kanban: Eliminates backlogs of work in progress to keep workflow smooth.

Tools for Lean Project Management

Following tools are helpful for a projects manager who wish to apply lean project management system

  • Kaizen: Continous Improvement, A good change
  • Obeya Room: War Room, A team meeting idea
  • 5S: Its Japanese converted to English sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.

Benefits of Lean Project Management

  • Waste Reduction: Lean Project Management helps to reduce overall waste by applying proper lean techniques.
  • Inventory reduction: Lean techniques needs no much inventory at the store. It only requires short-term availability.
  • Better Efficiency: It improves the efficiency of equipment and other resources. As it is not a “Push” technique.
  • Add Value: Waste-free, neat and clean product always add value to any business.
  • Reducing Completion Time: Project is properly scrutinized at each phase and hence it will help the project team to get it done on time. As commitment is the ket to implement lean techniques.
  • Lead times Reduction: It helps to improve this very important factor.
  • Increase in Productivity: As equipment is not working as “push” hence will get a proper time to get maintenance that will reduce breakdown time and ultimately will increase the efficiency.

A pitfall of Lean Project Management

Implementation of Lean techniques have been under consideration since 1990 but it was started implementing after 2000. Why this is so? Because it still has some issues to be addressed once you are planning to get into on your projects

Lack of Management Commitment

A quick decision is always required when managing the projects through lean management. When managing your projects by applying lean management systems then as you know it is a continuous improvement hence everyone should be ready to deal it on continuous basis like a supplier cannot delay any material. Others things like equipment, administration, pre-planning, short term schedules, long terms vision, organizational structure, etc. should be adaptive to lean management techniques.

As most of the primary stakeholders are not like to engage that much and hence lean project management application may not work properly.

Poor Communication

As you know, communication is the key to any project success or failure. As we increase the engagements and hence may lead to miscommunication or communication system may crash if not updated properly.

Financial Issue

Application of lean management needs resources to be trained enough to apply it properly. Most of management don’t want to invest as they think is not necessary as a project is a temporary endeavour. Although a proper and careful demonstration is enough to get them convinced.


Lean Project Management is no doubt a modern era technique and if you don’t follow it then you may lose competition in future as the customer a getting smart nowadays, they want a neat & clean product at the end of a day that will add value to their business ultimately. There is no harm to apply these techniques, ultimately it is good for the organization, it’s people and other resources.

Customer satisfaction is the key to a successful project and Lean Project Management helps to it.

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Further Reads:

You can read more about Lean Project Management

And To know more about Project Management Interview Questions

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