LEAN Wastes and Implications for Public Managers

Local government services are delivered through various types of processes, and those processes can be improved. The best suggestions for improvement generally come from your customers and employees who work within insufficient processes each day. LEAN methods can improve efficiency and eliminate waste to your entity. Public managers need to raise awareness of the seven wastes in LEAN Six Sigma and encourage employees to identify areas for improvement. Below are the LEAN wastes and their implications for public managers looking to increase efficiency.

  • Waiting: When there are bottlenecks in the process, the public waits. If communication does not flow quickly through the agency, between agencies or to the public, everyone waits. The result of all this waiting can be a nuisance, it can be a major inconvenience, or, it can be life-threatening. It is certainly costly.
  • Transport: Transportation can be expensive and subject to delays, damage, unnecessary movement, lost and damaged items, or misunderstood orders. Each agency must look into its own processes for areas that can be streamlined and improved.
  • Motion: How much time does the employee or public going from one place to another to get information, process paperwork, and tell the same story to several people in order to get a result? Similar to transportation, there is often needless movement of people, equipment, or paperwork.
  • Inventory: This involves storing obsolete products or material. Government entities need to identify unused real estate, warehouses, supplies, equipment and other types of assets that may be obsolete. These items can be sold or discarded to make more efficient use of space.
  • Overproduction: There may be unused services, a surplus of documents and forms that are expensive to print, but go unused or become obsolete quickly. Excessive email falls into this category if it has no purpose or when meetings or teleconferences would be more appropriate.
  • Over-processing: Are administrative processes clean and efficient, and can forms and records be filled out and filed electronically? Is assistance available for those in the public who do not have access to computers? Public leaders need to determine whether all current forms or reports have customers.
  • Defects: Defect reduction is a major part of LEAN, because they point out variation and mistakes. This includes mistakes in shipping the correct supplies and equipment, incomplete maintenance, untrained personnel, and poor response time to emergencies.

Charles Lewing is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. A Louisiana native, he graduated from McNeese State University in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance. He later earned his MBA in 2001. He relocated to Houston, Texas and worked in various finance and accounting roles for number of healthcare organizations. In 2016, he relocated to West Texas to pursue a career in public financial leadership. He currently serves as the Reeves County Auditor. Charles is very passionate about inclusive management, LEAN six sigma, and improving operational efficiency through leveraging technology. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time in the outdoors and reading spy novels. You can read his posts here.

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