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In the business world, project management carries sufficient weight across functions such as software development, marketing, research, management, system installation, and more. 

The common thread between all these projects is getting teams together to achieve goals – within time and budget. However, when projects get complex, cycle times and feedback loops get longer, resulting in several wastes. When unchecked, these wastes can bring the entire enterprise down. That’s where the concept of lean project management can help enterprises in waste reduction and productivity gain. Although Lean is primarily an operations practice, today it finds great application in the project space as well. To better meet project outcomes and reduce cycle times, the software industry is trying to move away from traditional approaches to projects and embracing concepts like Agile. Agile not only lets them build and deliver software in small iterations, it also improves transparency, software quality, and business value. 

Introduction to lean project management 

Any project comprises several different tasks and activities that require numerous tools and resources for successful completion. These also include some resources that do not add any value to the project – resulting in substantial waste. Lean project management makes use of lean techniques that help organizations in maximizing value and minimizing wastes while enhancing product/solution quality, customer satisfaction, and project margin. 

 By leveraging lean principles, it helps organizations understand the value every tool and resource provides to the project while mapping the value stream across the project’s lifecycle. It helps in identifying (and eliminating) waste, optimizing inventory, and saving resources. It also empowers them to embrace continuous improvement to maximize productivity and efficiency. 

Benefits of lean project management 

With a focus on efficiency, continuous improvement, and quality, lean project management is becoming increasingly popular across a variety of industries. 

Here are some compelling benefits of lean project management: 

• Improved quality: Through continuous improvements, lean project management lays the groundwork for improved quality. Through small incremental changes, it helps identify, resolve, and eliminate waste in the project while constantly working towards improving efficiency and quality. 

• Reduced time to completion: Lean project management empowers teams to reduce batch sizes (and thus cycle times), thereby shortening the feedback cycle. Quicker feedback means teams can work on high-priority tasks first and reduce time to completion while boosting customer satisfaction. 

• Reduced costs: Lean project management focuses on productivity and efficiency, thus cutting project time, reducing inventories, and eliminating errors as wastes. By improving quality, fewer defective products are produced, and therefore costs are reduced. 

• More value: Lean project management helps in understanding the actual value of various tasks and activities – especially from a customer’s viewpoint. By clearly defining the value every task adds to the project, it helps teams to quickly identify wastes and ensure all non-value adding activities – or waste – are targeted for removal.

• Elimination of wastes: Through constant monitoring of every activity across the project lifecycle and focusing on reducing non-value-adding activities, lean project management helps in quicker elimination of wastes. Such elimination not only smoothens the project flow, but it also ensures the product (or service) reaches the customer faster – without interruption, detour, or delay. 

Various types of lean project management 

Whether you want to identify wastes, improve productivity, or cut costs, there are different lean project management methods to choose from – to achieve these goals. 

Let’s look at 3 different types of lean project management: 

• The Deming Cycle: Inspired by Kaizen principles, the Deming Cycle or the Plan Do Check Act (PDCA) Cycle is a continuous improvement model that empowers project teams to carry out projects in a sequential manner. It allows them to plan their projects, execute the plan, check the results, and take action to standardize or optimize the process. Such continuous improvement helps in avoiding recurring mistakes, so results can be improved. 

• Kanban: Kanban is another lean project management principle that focuses on real-time communication and full transparency. By using Kanban boards where all work items are visually represented, it allows teams to see the state of every work item at any time. It helps match WIP items to the team’s capacity, paving the way for more flexible planning and thus faster output. 

• Lean Six Sigma: Lean Six Sigma makes use of two continuous improvement principles (remove waste and reduce variation) to fuel operational excellence. Using a systematic approach to project planning and management, it helps streamline and standardize processes while decreasing lead times and increasing capacity in the long run. 

Key principles of lean implementation

Lean project management focuses on 5 fundamental principles. These include: 

Specifying value from customers’ standpoint, so value of every activity can be identified and non-value adding activities can be eliminated. 

Mapping value of every task in the value stream and eliminating all those that do not add value. 

Combining all value-adding activities together, so the product can flow easily and quickly to the customer – without delay or interruption. 

Understanding customer demand for the product and service and developing products such that customers can pull in value the way they want. 

Pursuing perfection once the value is specified and mapped, and flow and pull are established. 


Importance of tools like Jira software for ensuring effectiveness

When it comes to project management, tools like Jira bring a lot to the table. 

Offering a range of capabilities for executing, tracking, and managing projects it helps in assigning tasks to individuals, so they can always be aware of statuses and due dates. By providing every team member visibility into their individual tasks as well as the tasks of the overall team, it helps streamline the process of approvals and feedback – thus preventing delays, reducing wastes, and delivering projects on time. 

With Jira, teams can proactively manage backlogs and work on features and issues that are critical - thus making the process of software delivery far more effective. Jira can help them focus on desired outcomes, enabling them to revisit past decisions based on new feedback, and deliver value in increments - instead of once at the end. 

So, whether you’re looking to manage a marketing project, a manufacturing process, or delivery of a complex software application, Jira is the ideal tool for you. It can help you create a to-do list, see if the resource has started working on the task, view the status of each task, accelerate approvals, and help complete tasks in time. It ensures all task details and feedback is always visible to all team members, so everyone knows what’s going on and what needs to be done to reach goals.

Did you know? Over 17,000 of Walmart’s software engineers, developers, and project managers use Jira daily to run their eCommerce business, so issues are identified quickly, and innovation is constantly driven.  

The only way teams can achieve success with their projects is by eliminating wastes and improving efficiency and quality. In a world where customer quality demands have to be met in time, lean project management is the way forward. 

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