Lean thinking is guided by the goals of customers

Lean is an operations strategy that aims to maximize value for customers by constantly improving the flow efficiency of processes. Improving flow efficiency is ensured by reducing waste, that is the use of non-value-producing resources. Identification and elimination of the use of resources that do not produce value requires an understanding how these differ from the resources that produce value, the distinguishing between these two in turn requires the recognition and definition of the value produced for customers.

It means that in lean thinking, attention is focused on the value produced for the customer instead of each party in the project having their own and possibly conflicting goals. This is carried out by a wider cooperation and overall optimization than usually, which enables clients to get the best value for their money, and at the same time benefits the other parties to the project, as efforts are not wasted on reconciliation of conflicting interests.

Value by eliminating waste

Lean principle means production of value by eliminating waste. This is carried out in construction sector by various lean-thinking operation methods and tools that focus on the integration of the different phases and parties of the project and their early involvement. Early involvement enables the definition of customer value, and simultaneous planning of both project final product and its production system. By integrating different stages and actors, the goal is to achieve unified processes where improving flow efficiency is possible and the end results are predictable.

Efficiency can be achieved by predictability

Lean’s goal is to establish a predictable and steady production flow. Predictability applies to the planning process, the end result of the project, and also the smooth and regular implementation of individual work phases. This allows better control of project costs and schedule as well as more precise management of resources and deliveries. This in turn generates better productivity, lower costs, and shorter project turnaround times.

Continuous strive for improvement

Implementation of lean principles does not happen in the blink of an eye – it is rather a process of questioning and improvement of things. Basically, the comprehensive transition to the use of lean principles requires a significant culture change. Continuous improvement requires humble attitude, openness, and respect for every contribution.

Photo: BothniaHigh5-allianssin-kuvapankki

Lean principles are promoted by integrated project delivery methods

Project delivery method refers to the way of procurement and tendering of the project, the process of planning and implementation thereof, and agreements defining the responsibilities and commercial terms of the project. Today, the most popular delivery method in construction culture is still the traditional project delivery model based on competitive tendering. The inflexibility of this delivery model and the conflicts of interest built into it have caused dissatisfaction, and contributed to the growing popularity of integrated methods.

Integrated delivery methods are generally called Integrated Project Delivery (IPD). It is a contract arrangement and method of organization that emphasizes joint responsibility of the contracting parties – the sharing of risks and benefits.

It goes furthest in the so-called alliance model, where there is one common agreement between all parties. Another option is cooperation model, which uses, for example, the contract model of a project management contract, but in addition, a cooperation agreement is drawn up between all parties.

The idea of integrated project delivery is to create a joint project organization of the parties, which has unified goals in the best interest of the project without obstructing organizational boundaries. Thus, integrated delivery models promote the principle of flow, cooperation, and mutual respect of the parties.

From the practical point of view, it is of utmost importance to form a common organization at the early stage of the project and build the development of planning and implementation solutions on everyone’s expertise. This enables the introduction of new solutions and Lean-based production methods.

Photo: Kusti Manninen, Tunne Productions Oy