How Lean and Modern Technology Go Hand in Hand
Continuous improvement is at the core of lean methodologies, and if you’re trying to apply lean practices to your work environment, it makes full sense to look in the direction where the most prominent improvements are constantly made – modern technology.
Computers and the technology surrounding them are advancing at a rapid pace, and those who are able to harness this progress can usually find themselves in very attractive positions with regards to how their workload is affected. If you’re smart about your leadership, you can use some modern tools and applications very effectively to streamline not only your own work, but that of the entire organization as well.
Automation Is Your Friend
We have very convenient access to all sorts of automation utilities nowadays, and ignoring them is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in trying to lead a more technologically advanced and competent company. The opportunities range from small to large, and the skills required to implement each of those solutions vary greatly as well. You don’t always need to be a tech guru to make some simple processes in your company run practically on their own.
Excel sheets are the biggest candidate for this. If you regularly have to crunch a lot of data, you can probably optimize a good deal of that by running the corresponding Excel sheets through a few carefully written macros. That way, instead of having to spend half an hour manually copying data from one table to another, running small local comparison scripts and verifying the results, you can focus exclusively on making sure that the final output is good and brings some new knowledge to the organization.
You can get more advanced than that if you have the time to learn some appropriate skills. For example, Python is a great programming language for automating and scripting various small tasks, and it doesn’t take too much effort to get familiar with it. As long as you have some basic computer literacy, you can invest a couple of weeks into this.
Never Lose Track of Your Progress
Another important aspect of any lean organization is the ability to reflect on their past results and make informed decisions for the future based on that data. However, as the company grows larger and starts ticking off one year after another on the calendar, it can start collecting huge amounts of data, not all of which may be relevant for its current operations.
Previously, people had to store everything in large notebooks and folders and keep everything organized in data archives. Additionally, some data was inevitably lost as decisions had to be made about the importance of each bit, choosing what to store and what to discard to make the process more efficient.
If you’re digitizing your records, this never has to be a problem. You can store as much data as you want for as long as you want, and you can then filter through that data very easily to find what you need. If you approach this in a smart and informed manner from the beginning, you can easily set up a database that keeps track of all progress made by the company through the years, and if you combine it with some good automation like we described above, you may not even have to lift a finger to compile regular reports.
Communicate More Efficiently
Last but definitely not least, modern technology is nothing short of a miracle when it comes to the improvements it can bring to a company’s communication. From simple things like contacting everyone through their mobile email client, to more complex operations like a dedicated Slack server for the company, the possibilities are endless, and you’ll never have to worry about miscommunication leading to a degraded performance.
Drive Everyone Towards the Same Goal
Improving your own technological competence as the company’s leader is important, but it’s just as important to make sure that the whole organization is on the same page too. After all, it will be your employees that will have to fill out those report sheets, compile the data and maintain the databases. It makes perfect sense to ensure that everyone is able to pull their own weight instead of relying on the upper-level management to get these tasks done.
There is a huge array of opportunities in modern technology for lean leaders who know how to utilize those tools appropriately. And the best part is, it’s a relatively easy field to get into – at least on the more basic level – so even if you consider yourself to be out of touch with the current trends in the tech field, it shouldn’t take too long to get up to speed with the right guidance.