Grow Your Business With 7+ Lean Process Improvement Tools

You’ve heard about Lean, the business approach behind Toyota’s success. Achieving more by using fewer resources is just what you want. You love the idea of Kaizen (continuous improvement), and you’re ready to implement these philosophies into the way you work.  It’s time to stock your toolkit with the lean process improvement tools that have taken many a business to the next level.

The beauty of these tools is that they have been tried and tested in practice, so although you may be embarking on something new, it’s ground that others have covered before you. All you need to do is follow the roadmap.

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So, let’s just right in! In this article, we’re going to cover 7 of the most popular lean process improvement tools, and explain how to use each.

1. Value Stream Mapping

value stream map

Processes consist of a series of steps, some of which add value, and some of which don’t. Of the latter, some are necessary to support the value creation process, and others – well, they might be ready for the cutting room floor!

You can create a value stream map in order to find which steps are necessary and which ones just waste your resources.

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How to do it:

2. Kanban

It may originally have been developed as a way of controlling the movement of inventory, but Kanban is also a useful lean process improvement tool.

This time, instead of using Kanban to control inventory, you use it to control effort. Your aim is to achieve the best results with the smallest amount of effort needed. When applying Kanban to process improvement, you begin with the status quo. Your Kanban board is there to help you visualize your workflows.

Now, it’s time to start switching things around and making adjustments.

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Change can be scary, but Kanban helps you to approach it with confidence. Rather than undergoing revolutionary change in which you might end up trading one set of problems for another, you change things little by little, evaluate the results, and base your next steps on that.

3. A3

a3 process improvement

If you think that A3 is really a paper size, you’re quite right! When A3 was first implemented, it used large sheets of paper. Today, we can implement A3 without the paper, but it still keeps its name.

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4. Plan-Do-Check-Act (PCDA) Cycle

deming cycle pdca

When it comes to processing improvement tools, this one is easy to implement and quick to show results.

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5. Gemba Walks

Let’s face it, most of the problems we try to solve in the boardroom don’t originate in the boardroom. This process improvement tool takes you to the coalface. A Gemba Walk is not just a casual stroll through, but a carefully planned and systematically executed process.

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6. The 5 Whys

When you’re looking to spot problems, root cause analysis might seem like a lengthy process – but the Five Whys give you a shortcut method to dig down to the real reasons why things aren’t going as planned.

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How to do it:

Make the necessary process changes to ensure that the problem you encountered doesn’t happen again and monitor the situation to see if you’ve nailed it.

7. The 5 Ws and 2Hs (5W2H)

Asking questions is the beginning of knowledge – but it’s also a great way to formulate an effective plan of action.

The 5W2H method poses questions, and the answers become the plan to be followed. The 5 Ws stand for what, why, where, when, and who. The two Hs are how (method) and how much (budget).

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Bonus: Super-Charge Your Lean Process Improvement Tools with Workflow Software

tallyfy screenshot workflow tasks

Most lean process improvement tools work best if you use them in sync with workflow management software.

While you use lean process improvement tools to spot potential improvements, you can use workflow software to implement these changes and ensure that all your employees are sticking to the new processes. Tools like Tallyfy allow you to…

Combine Tallyfy with other lean process improvement tools and methods to fast-track improvement and ensure that processes are carried out uniformly. Are you up to the challenge of adopting continuous improvement as part of your business philosophy? It’s significantly easier than you’d think!

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