There is no shortage of project management solutions in the SaaS marketplace.

At monday.com, we use (and offer to our customers) a variety of project management methodologies daily. After all, there is no perfect option. The “best” solution often depends on the type of organization, the specific project, and the personnel involved.

In this blog post, we list seven of the more common options, including agile, waterfall, PRINCE2, PMBOK, scrum, lean, and Kanban.

For this article, we’ll focus on one of those seven: Lean project management.

What is lean project management?

Achieving more by working with less.
Eliminating waste.
Removing any process that does not add value.

These are all core tenets of “lean.”

According to the Project Management Institute (PMI), ‘lean’ is a “quality improvement and management philosophy” where quality, production time, and cost are improved by eliminating waste.

Lean project management eliminates wastes such as “excessive documentation, excessive planning and control, unproductive meetings, avoidable rework, excessive definition of detailed requirements, unproductive multitasking,” and so on.

The concept of “lean” was adapted from the Toyota Production System’s goal of eliminating the three types of “deviations”: Muda (waste), Mura (unevenness), and Muri (overburden).

Muda: any process that does not add value
Mura: inconsistency and unevenness that causes waste
Muri: unreasonable burdens that cause stress and burnout

Lean means no “fluff” and forces employees to only work on those things that are essential, those tasks that deliver real value.

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What are the 5 core principles of lean?

According to the Lean Enterprise Institute*, the five core principles of lean are as follows:

5 core principles of lean

Image via lean.org

  1. Identify value: as defined by the customer — timeline, requirements, expectations, etc.
  2. Map the value stream: all the steps necessary to complete the project — determine (and eliminate) steps that do not create value. This value stream can be visually displayed on a Kanban board.
  3. Create flow: with waste now removed, it’s important to eliminate (or minimize) potential bottlenecks and unnecessary dependencies
  4. Establish pull: now that flow has been optimized, customers can get the final product in a more timely fashion
  5. Seek perfection: while, arguably, there is no such thing as perfection, practicing lean means you are constantly seeking improvement — this step is the first in ensuring lean thinking and process improvement becomes embedded into corporate culture

The last step is worth repeating: As lean thinking infiltrates an organization, it becomes part of the day-to-day process. Creating a culture of lean means waste is minimized and value comes to the forefront of all projects.

*As detailed in the book Lean Thinking, by James P. Womack and Daniel T. Jones, who are also founders of the Lean Enterprise Institute

How is lean different from scrum?

Before we dive into how lean and scrum are different, here is how they are the same.

Both seek to improve outdated project management methodologies.
Both are project frameworks designed to help improve success rate.
Both value close collaboration between team members and customers.
Both require continuously testing assumptions, adjusting the plan as new information is uncovered.
Both often have daily “stand-up” meetings where team members share what they did yesterday, what they’ll do today, and what obstacles they may be facing.

That’s where the similarities end.

The goal of a lean mindset is to optimize ongoing processes and reduce waste. Scrum, on the other hand, is an approach for planning and production where team members collaborate with stakeholders and work in short sprints to deliver more streamlined, “no fluff” end products.

Lean is constant, an ongoing quest to improve and optimize all processes. Scrum is short-lived, yet repetitive (sprints).

This chart outlines the key differences:

For a more detailed reading on the differences, check out Lean vs. Scrum: What’s the difference?

Kanban: A lean project management technique

There are several techniques to implement a lean project management approach: Kaizen, Poka-Yoke, S5, etc.

Many of these techniques are specific to lean manufacturing. At monday.com, we offer a solution that works in pretty much any industry: Kanban is used by project management teams to plan, track and manage any project from start to finish.

Status columns in monday.com become your column headers when using the Kanban view.

Kanban empowers lean project management teams to effectively collaborate — easily assign and prioritize tasks, share documents and other files, and see what team members are doing and when they are doing it.

Kanban is a single workspace for a project’s entire life cycle.

Kanban boards help:

✓ Automate routine work: Due date reminders, update notifications, and other code-free automations simplify workflows.
✓ Visualize your projects: stay on top of all projects and get clarity
✓ Gain data-driven insights: High-level dashboards and charts help to monitor a project’s progress at every stage

The monday.com visual Kanban boards keep everyone up to date and working towards the same goal — a critical aspect of any lean project management process.

See for yourself. Sign up now for monday.com.

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