Principles | Benefit & Pitfalls – Lean in Project Management

Lean is an attitude, a way of thinking, and Lean Project Management harnesses that attitude to run a project more efficiently and deliver a better result to customers or clients. Lean is a systematic approach to eliminating waste. Thus, a Lean Management system helps to develop innovative projects.

Lean  Main Goals are you will get a process that is ;

  • Shorter
  • Faster
  • Do more will-less

Lean is about speed. Lean project management helps remove bottlenecks of projects and speed up the project by eliminating waste as it goes.

Lean Project Management is more like an attitude on delivering a project and an attitude on eliminating waste in a project environment to make a project more efficient and productive to serve a customer or client better.

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Background of Lean Project Management

3 MUs Kaizen. Image Credits (
3 MUs Kaizen. Image Credits (

A lean project management system is inspired by Toyota where they use the following principles called 3MUs of Kaizen;

  • Muda – Eliminating the Waste

Anything you do or deploy resources that do not add value to the project or deliver any benefit to project stakeholders is called Muda.

  • Muri – Overburden

Muri is doing the most stuff under pressure, over-stress, which is not good for any resource. It will lead to more waste products, which is undesirable at any stage of the project. Lean project Management applies this principle to deliver a better result and ultimately respect the resources.

  • Mura – Inconsistency

Mura is inconsistently doing the same things. This can be overcome by applying standardization to procedures.

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Lean Principles

lean is not just a tool or a methodology; it’s a business philosophy. It was derived from Toyota Production System. The main philosophy of lean is to reduce waste in a continuous process. It will reduce the cost, optimize the resources, and save time ultimately.

Lean Project Management Techniques

Some Lean management techniques don’t necessarily translate well to project environments like Six Sigma; some like DAMIAC, Agile Project Management, KANBAN, Plan – Do – Review, which is a scrum methodology.

There are several methodologies and techniques to implement lean project management. Careful observation can help one is to choose.

Here is the list of all the lean methodologies.

  • Six Sigma – Focus on Quality & Waste Elimination
  • Deming Cycle – PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act)
  • Kanban: Eliminates backlogs of work in progress to keep the workflow smooth.

Tools for Lean Project Management

The following tools are helpful for a projects manager who wish to apply a lean project management system

  • Kaizen: Continous Improvement, A good change
  • Obeya Room: War Room, A team meeting idea
  • 5S: Its Japanese converted to English sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain.Major Benefits of Lean in Project Management

Benefits of Lean Project Management

  • Waste Reduction: Lean Project Management helps to reduce overall waste by applying proper lean techniques.
  • Inventory Reduction: Lean techniques needs no much inventory at the store. It only requires short-term availability.
  • Better Efficiency: It improves the efficiency of equipment and other resources. As it is not a “Push” technique.
  • Add Value: Waste-free, neat and clean products always add value to any business.
  • Reducing Completion Time: Project is properly scrutinized at each phase, and hence it will help the project team to get it done on time as commitment is the key to implement lean techniques.
  • Lead times Reduction: It helps to improve this significant factor.
  • Increase in Productivity: As the equipment is not working as “push,” hence will get proper time to get the maintenance that will reduce breakdown time and ultimately increase efficiency.

5 – Key Principles Lean Project management

In their book, James Womack and Daniel Jones published five principles to apply the concept of lean-to Project Management.

  • Specify the Value: What customers think about the project for them.
  • Do a Map of Value Stream: It helps to view the process, and you will get the ideas to reduce waste by removing unnecessary steps. It will ultimately help you optimize your resources.
  • Value Flow by Eliminating the Waste: This will help streamline future projects to run smoothly.
  • Value Flow at the Pull of the Customer: always create a product on-demand that will reduce inventory and optimize resources.
  • Continuous improvement: Never stop make a continuous improvement that will lead you to perfection.

A pitfall of Lean Project Management

Implementation of Lean techniques has been under consideration since 1990, but it was started implementing after 2000. Why is this so? Because it still has some issues to be addressed once you are planning to get into your projects

Lack of Management Commitment

A quick decision is always required when managing the projects through lean management. When managing your projects by applying lean management systems, as you know, it is continuous improvement; hence everyone should be ready to deal with it continuously like a supplier cannot delay any material.

Other things like equipment, administration, pre-planning, short-term schedules, long-term vision, organizational structure, etc., should be adaptive to lean management techniques.

Most of the primary stakeholders do not like to engage that much, so lean project management applications may not work properly.

Poor Communication

As you know, communication is the key to any project’s success or failure. As we increase the engagements and hence may lead to miscommunication, the communication system may crash if not updated properly.

Financial Issue

The application of lean management needs resources to be trained enough to apply it properly. Most management doesn’t want to invest because it is unnecessary as a project is a temporary endeavor. However, a proper and careful demonstration is enough to get them convinced.

Lean Six Sigma

We add the value of six sigma and get the maximum benefits of this lean process.

Six Sigma is a process improvement tool the same as lean. In six sigma, we reduce the variation in the process, but we tend to remove the waste in lean.

Lean is about speed, and six sigma is about consistency.

If you have 100 tools to use for a process, apply the Pareto rules (80:20). This will help to eliminate the extra steps and will give your point of concentration.

What is Lean Six Sigma in Project Management


Wrap Up

Lean Project Management is, no doubt, a modern era technique. If you don’t follow it, you may lose competition as the customer is getting smart nowadays; they want a neat & clean product at the end of a day that will ultimately add value to their business. There is no harm in applying these techniques; ultimately, it is good for the organization, its people, and other resources.

The lean definition is just an attitude and one of the best in project management methodologies. The lean methodology helps to organize the system. Customer satisfaction is the key to a successful project, and Lean Project Management helps to it.


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135 thoughts on “Principles | Benefit & Pitfalls – Lean in Project Management”

  1. THis is the most concise and to the point content out there at lean project management. Thank you for sharing and expecting more in near future. Shared already with colleagues. You deserve it mate.

  2. Thank you Lean Project Management Techniques. It is quite precise and accurate explanation around. would love to have more articles if you can.

  3. Well written and thank for sharing a concise piece on Lean Project Management also covering Benefits & Pitfalls.

  4. Thank you dear for this great piece of content. Will share with friends. Lean management is old but gold.

  5. This is an outclass write-up. Keep on posting such stuff. Project Management is something we need to learn through practical approach as you are doing brilliantly.

  6. Dear, you are awesome because most of the blog is based on practical experiences. Lean manage element is defined with pitfalls briefly. Please write more on it also.

  7. Really appreciated your effort to make it time-saving and concise for beginners to expert. I am a Project Management guy also.

  8. Thanks, you dear whoever behind this wonderful website. Projects are easy if done through proper understanding.

  9. Thanks for the thoughts you have shared here. Also, Lean Project Management has much more Benefits & Pitfalls.

  10. Thank you very much for the content. I am new to lean manufacturing but this management part seems somewhat similar to it!

  11. Great content like always. You are really cracking things for Project Management around. More strength to you dear.

  12. Stuff mate. Lean Project Management | Benefits & Pitfalls is best on the internet I think. Not a commercial piece but practical.

  13. Lean Project Management | Benefits & Pitfalls is a great and refined content one can offer. hats off to you mate.

  14. Thank you dear for your effort and time. Lean management is quite old an interesting field. Need more from you.

  15. Thank you for my friend for this write up to help others. No doubt lean management is quite handy when used with agile.

  16. Can you please share that native file and if you can allow me to use it for my presentation later on. I came here to make my presentation and I am sorry may not credit right now but later I will for sure.

    1. Dear Lilly
      What exactly you need. I use Adobe illustrator for my infographics. If you need that file I will send or upload here for you. Moreover some related MS Excel sheets I have uploaded on my related articles.

  17. The awesome site overall. Love to read human-written articles. Thank you for your time. Primavera P6 part is just fantastic.

  18. Thank you very much for this great initiative. Hope more professional will put their sincere efforts to make project management life easier.

  19. I am a big fan of your write-up. The way you explained Lean Project Management Benefits & Pitfalls is appealing to other beginners. Your blog is helping for my PMP credentials. I only can request you to write more quality stuff.

  20. I like your style as you always prefer and images by yourself. Project Management teaches us ethics also. Lean the way of living. I am a bit out of topic but certainly, your blog is helping the people, at least me.

  21. Highly appreciated your due effort in Primavera field. Hope more and more people do a good stuff like this.

  22. Can you please recommend any lean project management certification, lean project management software or lean project management book? Great article by the way

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  24. Lean project Management is highly under rated tool but you cannot hide it anymore. Six sigma is the one you need to look after as soon as you find any opportunity.

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