TotalCIO

Jun 19 2009   2:10PM GMT

Lean methodologies for lean times

Karen Guglielmo Karen Guglielmo Profile: Karen Guglielmo

In lean times, companies should consider lean methodologies and tools to cut costs and improve processes. Lean BPM and Lean Sigma are two lean methodologies that allow companies to identify discrepancies and quickly improve business processes.

Lean BPM, according to Clay Richardson, senior analyst for Forrester Research, is the practice of “trimming the fat off of bloated BPM initiatives.” In a recent survey of 95 IT decision makers, Richardson found that companies are being asked to implement more BPM initiatives, while having their project budgets and resources cut at the same time. More than 50% of the 95 IT decision makers said that their BPM budgets were being reduced, while the demand was going up.

For Lean BPM to work, you have to think lean. Richardson suggests that companies get the most out of their Lean BPM plans by making sure to add nothing but value to projects, center or focus only on the people who are adding value, and audit your staff to make sure you have the right skill sets in place for your process analysts. All of these steps, and possibly adding a formal BPM Center of Excellence, will help ensure Lean BPM success in the enterprise.

Another way companies can improve processes in these lean times is through Lean Sigma. Different than Six Sigma, which is a customer-focused methodology applied to longer term projects, Lean Sigma focuses on short-term gains by identifying defects and eliminating waste from processes. Today’s business leaders are looking for these short-term gains and often don’t have the time, money or resources to invest in longer-term projects like Six Sigma.

In an economy where companies are constantly struggling to do more with less, lean methodologies like Lean BPM and Lean Sigma are just two examples of how some companies are successfully leveraging limited money and resources for quick gains. How many other ways can companies trim the fat, be lean and remain in competitive in today’s economy? What other “lean processes” or “lean tools” have you found effective?

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