Bob Tarne, PMP, CSM is an accomplished consultant, speaker, and writer. He is currently an Engagement Manager with IBM as well as an active volunteer with the Project Management Institute. His blog can be found at zen-pm.blogspot.com.
Agile project management and software development techniques like Scrum and Extreme Programming continue to gain popularity, but not all projects are suited to a purely agile approach. By helping to define value, eliminate waste and prevent defects, the principles of Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma can also be used to improve the effectiveness of traditional project management processes.
Lean can be thought of as an approach of maximizing effectiveness by eliminating unnecessary steps in processes. The idea of lean has been around for some time in manufacturing. The book The Machine That Changed the World, written by James Womack, et al, and published in 1990, highlights the approach taken by Toyota to implement lean manufacturing.
Can a project management process benefit from the concepts being used in lean manufacturing? While manufacturing and project management are not very similar, there are concepts of lean that can be applied to the project management process, including defining the value, eliminating waste and preventing defects. While there are other concepts that could be included in the discussion, these three provide a good starting point for organizations to consider.
Defining the Value
How can your project management process define value? The goal of any project is to create a product or service that brings value to