8 Wastes of Lean Project Management

Murtaza Khalil

Murtaza Khalil

Project Management

Lean project management aims at maximizing business efficiency by the concept of incremental improvements across different stages of the project. This helps in achieving customer satisfaction more efficiently and reducing extra effort by the team to achieve the same results.

Lean project management can sometimes be simply referred to as ‘Lean’.

What is Wastes in Lean?

Wastes in Lean Project Management are all those activities/entities which can be removed from the workflow stream without impacting its productivity negatively. Identifying and eliminating Lean wastes goes a long way in running a successful project.

What is Values in Lean?

The concept of ‘values in Lean’ comes in from project management methodology and is understood as, “everything the customer is willing to pay for in order to achieve satisfaction”. Lean project management is heavily focused on customer satisfaction.

8 Wastes of Lean

  1. Transport
  2. Inventory
  3. Motion
  4. Waiting
  5. Overproduction
  6. Over-processing
  7. Defects
  8. Non-Utilized Talent

Once the causes of these wastes are understood clearly, the company can focus on optimizing their processes by eliminating wastes from these processes.

Here’s how these eight types of Lean wastes impact efficiency:

8 wastes of lean

1. Transport:

Often resources are moved from one place to another but no value is added to the product. In addition to adding overhead costs, excessive movement can negatively impact the quality of parts/products. Also, the excessive inventories seldom contribute to adding value for the customer and improving the product.

2. Inventory:

Often, companies will only hold additional inventories because they may be potentially required. In this way, companies stock themselves for a demand which doesn’t exist. However, these excessive inventories never add any value for the end customer and end up piling on the stores instead.

3. Motion:

This categorizes the unnecessary movement of goods and employees. In essence, workers need to be given an environment where their movement is minimized.

4. Waiting:

Products and tasks need to be in constant motion. If this is not happening, then waiting occurs.

5. Overproduction:

All that the customer is not going to pay for, can be categorized as overproduction and hence can be considered a waste.

6. Over-processing:

All the works which consume effort and resources but don’t add any additional value or add a value that the customer will not pay for are over-processing.

7. Defects:

Defects need to be corrected by working on the product again. In some cases, defects lead the products to be directed towards the scrap. For the purpose of rework, additional space, time, logistics and manpower are required which leads to a loss in productivity.

8. Non-Utilized Talent:

Here the resources are not properly utilized in the form of people’s experience, skills, knowledge or creativity where employees unable to make decisions, skilled employees do an unskilled task.

Identifying Cost of Delay

Cost of Delay (CoD) represents the monetary or economic cost incurred by the firm when delays occur. Depending on the size of the firm, the Cost of Delay can fluctuate. Naturally, the bigger the firm, the higher the CoD. In this regard, it is important for business owners to be able to calculate and keep an eye on the CoD.

In terms of product or software development, the Cost of Delay might be incurred if the product launch or the launch of any key feature is delayed. The amount of monetary loss due to this delay will be the CoD.

Optimizing your Process in Lean

The root cause of CoD is usually poor management and lack of process optimization.

To better optimize the processes, the project managers need to:

  • First of all, accurately calculate the CoD for the ongoing project.
  • Prioritize projects in accordance with the value they produce and how urgent they are.
  • Use the Lean method to tackle the seven wastes identified therein.

Role of Value Stream Mapping

There are many steps and processes which are involved from the product inception, manufacturing and delivery to end customer. The complete visualization, analysis, and design of these processes are done in Value Stream Mapping or VSM.

Value Stream Mapping not only gives a bird’s eye view but also provides a detailed insight towards understanding the flow of work in the business. Various work streams and flow information can be depicted by different symbols in VSM.

One of the main benefits of value stream mapping is the identification and elimination of wastes. In addition to providing insight towards the process line, value stream mapping as also emerged as contributing resources towards better teamwork and collaboration.

The main benefits of value stream mapping in lean can be summarized as follows:

  • It helps in determining the actual sources of wastes and contributes towards reducing them.
  • Once hand-off points are visualized, teams can work to stop them from occurring again through better communication and improved behavior.
  • It helps prioritize those end results which are of value for the customer and hence directs the entire focus towards identified values.

Using Technology to implement Lean Techniques

One of the main differentiators between the successful and unsuccessful implementation of Lean manufacturing is the real-time identification of problems. Problems must be identified then and there during the manufacturing process.

Many US manufacturers have tried to implement Lean manufacturing and complained about achieving little success. The main issue in their case is the lack of actual implementation of values in Lean through technology. The famous car manufacturer, Toyota, has been reported to reap huge benefits by the integration of Lean with technology.

At the heart of the improvements in Toyota was the fact that the managers were able to identify problems in the manufacturing line in real-time and thus able to sort them out quickly and effectively.

Lean integration with technology revolves around an electronic floor system, a system that essentially gathers and presents real-time process flow information and presents it to various stakeholders on board which includes the project managers along with the floor operators.

An electronic floor management system should be able to bring the following to the table:

  • Accessibility for all workers/floor employs onboard
  • Communication access like email excess where and when required
  • Tracking of changeover times and their association with certain areas or employs
  • Better insights towards process improvement
  • Electronic access to data to all floor workers and managers
  • Real-time quality checks for alerting against non-conformity to quality standards


Lean project management is based on identifying waste and highlighting values. Try using Kissflow Projects today in your systems to see how it will work for you.