As an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM), you’ve no doubt heard of lean manufacturing. You’ve probably even implemented several lean initiatives on your own production floor.
However, lean efforts are often overlooked when it comes to your front office and administrative tasks – and that oversight could be costing you significantly.
Whether you’re looking to cut costs in your own operations or you’re searching for an efficient contract manufacturer with low overhead costs, you must consider the implications of a lean office. In fact, implementing a lean office culture is just as important as employing lean manufacturing services.
Running a lean office not only reduces your overhead costs, but it ensures that your entire company (and not just the manufacturing crew) is focused on efficient operations and bottom-line profitability.
Here are a few ways to create a lean mentality throughout your office and administrative tasks:
You wouldn’t manufacture inconsistent or irregular products on your manufacturing floor, so you shouldn’t tolerate office work that doesn’t produce predictable and repeatable outputs either.
Unstable office work usually stems from a misunderstanding of customer needs (including internal customers) or from inconsistent employee training. The best way to stabilize your office work and improve profitability is to identify the most wasteful instabilities and hold new training sessions that focus on increasing consistency.
After your lean office is stabilized in terms of outputs, it’s time to start standardizing different workflows so they’re as efficient as possible. Through exercises like process mapping or value stream mapping, break down every step of a particular office task and identify which tasks are valuable – and which ones need to be eliminated.
With new standards in place, you streamline and simplify work for all employees and increase the repeatability and predictability of their work. In addition, clear guidelines help employees identify non-standard conditions and more effectively address them.
3. Increase Visibility
Improving profitability and lean mentality office-wide means every employee needs to know when operations are running in the black (or in the red). From your morning huddles to your weekly financial reports, you need to increase the transparency and visibility of your office’s performance and profitability.
Without this level of visibility, employees simply don’t know whether their actions are acceptable quirks or unprofitable waste. By regularly communicating instructions, rules and priorities, you ensure that your lean office initiatives become long-term lean office culture.
4. Improve Continually
Just like with lean manufacturing initiatives, your lean office efforts should never have an ending. Instead, you need to improve your office operations continually by reviewing and improving administrative tasks on a regular basis.
However, creating a lean office isn’t just for you to implement as a leader – you need each of your employees involved in consistently improving your operations, whether on the manufacturing floor or in the front office. One way to ensure all employees are focused on improving operations with a lean mentality is to institute regular lean training.
Identifying and eliminating waste is a regular practice of every OEM (and should be of their contract manufacturing partners too), but just because waste is easier to identify on the production floor doesn’t mean your business can afford to ignore any out-of-control costs or excesses in the front office. Instead, implement a lean office culture to contain your costs and watch your profitability take off.