What is a good return on investment from lean?

Jan 25, 2017

The answer should always begin with what they value and what their clients value. For some it is simple, reducing costs are what it is all about. Budget cuts and market pressures drive them to focus on these areas and of course the lean methodology is extremely powerful in helping to do this.

For others it is reduced time to delivery or increased capacity hours. For some clients it is about improving quality or developing the capability of the team. Often, managing growth is on the agenda. In these times I’m happy to say a number of our clients need help to cope with the growth in their demand a fantastic problem to have!

There are rules of thumb that we use to help all clients to decide just how much they should see in return.

We would always be expecting to see a double digit percentage gain of some from in these environments. If not we need to put something right to address that and do it quickly.

What should you see?

  • In high volume areas it is typical to see 30-40% improvement gains in processing time and similar percentages in lead times
  • In projects a reduction of 30-50% in timeline should be typical, and 15-30% in labour processing time
  • In quality a 50% reduction in faults is normal
  • Absorbing a 30% increase in growth or reduction in capacity is also typical
  • In lower volumes the bandwidth tends to be wider – from 15% gains to 80% gains are all possible depending on the complexity and nature of the work

You may notice that none of these numbers are less than 15%. That is because we expect this level of breakthrough change and improvement from a lean programme. Incremental change is great but will always create a number of challenges. To name but a few.

  • Does the end justify the means?
  • Does it engage the staff?
  • Could it be achieved just by pushing bit harder than before?

So if you are seeing greater than 15% improvement from your programme then recognise the team as doing great things to drive those results. If not then challenge the reason why “(it may well be in the leadership)” and find support if you need it to help see how these breakthroughs can happen.