What are lean services?

By rethinking and streamlining service processes, most companies can cut expenses by 10 to 30 percent and sharply improve the satisfaction of internal and external customers.

BCG's Lean Services Primer

BCG’s Lean Services Primer

One way businesses can improve their competitiveness is to apply lean manufacturing principles to services. In this report, Boston Consulting Group identifies six success factors for implementing lean services:

  • Identify and map key processes
  • Reduce complexity
  • Standardize work modules
  • Harness the power of “big data”
  • Set and track performance metrics
  • Cross-train to increase productivity.

In health care, banking, travel, and other service industries, the customer is the product moving through the process — and experiencing firsthand the frustration of inefficiency. Because processes typically cross functions and departments, few people involved with them have a complete picture of the end-to-end-workflow.

Key reasons for inefficient service processes include a lack of standardization and consistency, exceptions and rework that slow throughput, and an inability to analyze and manage the drivers of work force productivity and customer satisfaction.

Interdependencies and interfaces are often hidden. Inconsistency is a problem for many service processes. Different personnel have different methods and levels of skill. Often a small percentage of work eats up a disproportionate amount of time.

Standardizing best practices, cross-training, and refactoring the 80/20 distribution of work can lead to significant efficiency gains. Look for handoffs and steps that waste time or add no value. Analyze information flows to identify silos and roadblocks. Flag and eliminate any variations, disruptions, rework, or exceptions that slow the workflow. Harness the power of “big data” to gain insights to minimize waste, lower costs, and sharply improve service process performance.



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