7 ideas to make implementing lean more successful for your construction projects

Written by LetsBuild

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The construction industry is on the rise in the UK, and the top construction professionals are looking for ways to grow their businesses, improve their operations, and increase their profits.

Staying competitive in the industry relies on a simple concept: Do more of what works, and stop doing what doesn’t.

That’s the lean approach.

Free eBook: Quick guide to Lean practices for construction professionals

7 tips to implement lean construction in your projects successfully

Lean construction goes against the siloed approach of traditional construction methods. It focuses on minimizing waste and maximizing value through better communication, collaboration, planning, and scheduling.

Follow these seven tips to make implementing lean construction successful for your projects and get the benefits of lean.

1. Set clear definitions in your projects

The first thing you need to do if you want to successfully implement lean in your construction projects is to ensure every stakeholder is on the same page.

This means having clear definitions of things like the project’s value stream when work is considered done, and project milestones.

Setting standards that keep everyone aligned in their communication, tasks, and goals should be the number one priority for any team looking to implement lean principles.

2. Prioritize waste elimination

The term “waste” in lean construction encompasses more than what goes in the bin. The concept applies to wasted time, labor, resources, skills, etc.

Reducing waste on site is a major component of lean construction, and organizing periodic sessions during all stages of a project is crucial to lean implementation.

Project managers, general contractors, and their teams should focus on identifying waste in their site operations and benchmark those results to gauge the effectiveness of their waste elimination efforts.

Read more: Applying lean construction to residential projects

Lean construction techniques on site | LetsBuild

3. Establish strong relationships with stakeholders

When you establish relationships with your suppliers, subcontractors, etc. based on trust and communication, collaborating and achieving your project’s vision becomes much easier.

It also helps with getting every stakeholder involved in a project from its onset—a crucial part of many lean construction practices like pull planning and the Last Planner® system.

Whether or not you bring everyone working on the project together from the very beginning to create a master schedule, define value, and determine ways to reduce waste can mean the difference between successful or failed lean implementation.

4. Build a sense of trust within your team

Successfully implementing lean construction principles in your projects relies on reinforcing collaboration and communication between every team member and stakeholder, from design to delivery.

Focus on improving communication between project teams and establishing trust between everyone involved by working on teamwork and team building on your construction sites.

The ideology of continual improvement is an essential part of lean construction, and continual improvement can’t happen without a team that trusts and respects each other.

5. Set benchmarks and measures of success

There’s a quote that gets thrown around in project management quite often: “What gets measured gets managed.” We like to think of it as, “What gets measured gets done”—an important adage in lean construction.

Every key stakeholder involved in a construction project needs to understand what must happen to make the project a success, and setting benchmarks is the way to ensure that understanding.

Whatever benchmarks and measures of success you choose for your projects (keeping waste under a specific level, meeting certain deadlines, etc.), everyone must know the overall goals and what they’re aiming to accomplish.

6. Continuously monitor and adjust

While implementing lean practices in your construction projects, it’s important to think about sustaining them, too, by checking in on your goals and ensuring nothing is getting off track.

You should work with other stakeholders to immediately address any issues and resolve them quickly—problems will arise when first implementing lean, but tackling them head-on will set you up for success.

This mindset will help all of your lean practices run smoothly, prevent small issues from becoming big problems, and reduce the need for rework.

Further reading: 5 Lean construction benefits (and how to get them)

Lean construction on site | LetsBuild

7. Commit to your overall lean goals

When you first start implementing lean principles, it can be challenging and intimidating; however, you must commit to the overall goals—increasing value, decreasing waste, and unlocking efficiency.

Keep those goals in mind even when your first lean project doesn’t go exactly as planned. Determine what works and apply it to future projects; identify what doesn’t work and strive for improvement.

If you stay committed, you’ll eventually be able to successfully apply the six lean principles to every project, bringing their benefits to you, your team, and your clients.

Set yourself up for lean success with LetsBuild

Becoming a lean organization won’t happen overnight. But with time and effort from you and your team, you can successfully implement lean into your construction projects to increase your efficiency, enhance the value you provide to clients, and reduce your overall costs.

You can learn more about successfully implementing lean construction principles into your projects with our free ebook: A quick guide to Lean practices for construction professionals.

When you’re ready to go lean, pick up your free demo of LetsBuild and see how we can help you improve your communication, stay on schedule, and align everyone to deliver faster.