Lean Construction Methodology Principles
There are numerous project management strategies that construction companies use to get jobs done. Some traditional construction methods construction project management methodologies have strict guidelines that need to be followed in order to see results, while others are more flexible. The needs of your organization, the industry, and the scope of your project will all play a role when it comes to choosing the best methodology for your organization.
Lean construction methods are less about following strict rules and more about adhering to a cycle of continuous improvement based on the following principles:
Let’s take a deeper look at how these principles improve efficiency in the construction process.
Understanding customers on a deeper level is an important part of the lean method. After all, without customers, your construction business doesn’t exist. That’s why lean construction begins with learning what customers really want.
When it comes to lean methodology, identifying customer value is more than just building what the customer wants. Lean construction principles focus on why customers want what they want and how to give them the most value without compromising cost and efficiency.
After construction firms have developed a clear understanding of what value means from a customer’s perspective, it’s time to define the value stream. A value stream is the flow of resources and personnel to produce positive outcomes for customers. All of the processes, people, and materials needed to complete construction projects are a part of your value stream.
It's important to reduce waste as you evaluate and identify the key components of your value stream. Waste refers to any steps, materials, or workflows that don’t add value. Lean construction value streams should define each activity as well as the labor, equipment, and materials that are required to complete projects.
One of the quintessential features of lean methodology in construction is a continuous, reliable, and predictable workflow. Performing operations in the correct order is key, especially in the construction industry. After all, you can’t put the roof on before you lay the foundation.
When communication is interrupted, waste occurs. But proper communication ensures that workflows are carried out in the correct sequence. For example, if one team gets behind schedule and they fail to communicate, then the next crew could be showing up too early to complete the next project phase.
To create streamlined workflows for lean construction projects, teams must have clear lines of communication open between all parties involved in the project. Constant communication, note-taking, and reporting are of utmost importance as far as successfully completing construction projects is concerned.
Pull planning and scheduling also helps streamline workflows for lean construction. This collaborative approach to scheduling involves gathering all team members to learn about project milestones, requirements, and potential bottlenecks to orchestrate multiple contractors and workers. To achieve lean, project teams work together to create a more efficient workflow by determining the order in which project tasks must be completed for the best possible outcomes.
The heart of the lean practices is about optimizing processes, minimizing waste, and giving customers the best value. Possibly the most important of the lean methodology principles in construction is continuous improvement over time.
By identifying opportunities for improvement and working to change processes for the better, construction companies can more efficiently reduce waste and complete complex projects.
It’s worth reiterating that acting on those opportunities for improvement is the key to achieving reliable and predictable workflows with better results in the future.