Improving Your Team’s Lean Project Management

StrategyDriven Project Management Article | Improving Your Team's Lean Project Management“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
Vincent Van Gogh

At its core, lean project management is about delivering greater value while minimizing waste. In that sense, this approach will help you improve quality while decreasing the cost of production — but where do you begin?

If your goal is to improve your team’s lean project management, resulting in greater efficiency and productivity, you need to take a number of key steps. Here’s how to get started.

Make Your Projects Run More Efficiently and Deliver Better Results Through Lean Project Management

Lean is a business philosophy that first began within the manufacturing industry. The goal was to decrease costs and lead time while yielding greater quality. Derived from the Toyota Production System, this philosophy is applied to all business processes.

Once Toyota successfully maximized outputs while reducing waste, Lean principles were applied to many business disciplines; and in terms of project management, Lean principles help managers improve key variables. For example, just some of the benefits associated with Lean principles include:

  • Greater quality assurance and customer satisfaction
  • Improved team collaboration
  • Lower costs, as well as reduced waste

How to Apply Lean Project Management Methodology

Once you understand the core principles and benefits associated with lean project management, it will be time to apply what you’ve learned. To do so, take the following steps.

Step One: Identify customer value

When developing any project, the first step is to consider the perspective and needs of the customer. In that sense, you should focus on what the customer needs and when. Quality and price expectations are important to consider here, particularly in terms of value and waste reduction. You should strive to eliminate bottlenecks in the project process, focusing on speed while minimizing waste. You’ll want to remain particularly mindful of wasted effort, inconsistency, and overcommitment issues.

Step Two: Create a value plan

Whenever you’re about to tackle a new project, it’s important to consider the initial idea, visualizing your end goal. In doing so, you will become more mindful of the steps in between. That way, you can better understand which steps add value and which do not. For example, when designers create prototypes, this step typically adds value.

The same is true when building your design system, allowing you to eliminate inconsistencies while standardizing all ongoing processes. Design systems bring order to chaos, boosting efficiency and consistency. As a result, companies are able to create at scale. In contrast, meeting with the entire design team daily to share updates may not add a significant amount of value. Remember to think of the customer. While analyzing each step, ask yourself, does this step add value to the customer?

Read more: Lean UX: Expert Tips to Maximize Efficiency in UX

Step Three: Eliminate activities that don’t add value

This step is all about reducing waste. The ultimate goal here is for your team to end up working on activities that add value, eliminating all those that are non-value adding. Depending on the scope of your project, this may be easier said than done. However, even small improvements can make a significant difference when aiming to become Lean.

Step Four: Continue to improve

It’s important to note that the step above is not a one-time job. To be an efficient, successful Lean project team, you need to continuously review ongoing activities to eliminate and reduce as much waste as possible. It’s also important to empower your team so that everyone feels comfortable challenging inefficient activities.

How to Identify Waste Activities

While you may want to improve your team’s lean project management for a number of reasons, eliminating waste is at the core of this philosophy and is addressed by three Japanese concepts, known as:

  • Muda — This includes any activity that consumes resources without creating value. In relation to project management, this is often seen when resources are utilized without any sense of meaningful output. That is why you need to create a well-defined end-to-end project plan. Work closely with your team so that each individual understands what they’re responsible for.
  • Mura — This focuses on reducing unevenness without your team. The goal here is to maintain balanced progress while identifying risks in your work schedule. Within project management, Mura often evolves due to changing priorities, dependencies, poor risk management, and a lack of clarity — all of which can be avoided.
  • Muri — This involves the concept of being overburdened, relating to both humans and machines. When required to work at a higher pace, for longer, this can lead to low-quality output. To avoid this, establish clear boundaries regarding work-life balance and encourage breaks when needed.

Implement Lean Six Sigma (DMEDI)

DMEDI is a structured, measurable, and highly proactive method. The purpose of this approach is to identify issues upfront so that you can prevent waste in terms of your time and resources. The five phases of this method include:


These phases essentially act as a blueprint when setting up a project.

So, whether your goal is to reduce the number of useless activities or would like to address overburdened team members, lean project management will help you reduce wasted efforts and become more productive. It’s a win-win!

Want to learn more? Check out the following resources:

The Benefits of Time Blocking

StrategyDriven Practices for Professionals Article |Time Blocking|The Benefits of Time BlockingTime is one of the most important factors when it comes to business. Too little of it and you rush, anxiety levels increase, and you can miss vital bits of information. Too much of it and you can overwork your ideas or slip into the world of procrastination.

Managing your time will increase productivity and also help you unwind and relax, giving you a healthier work-life balance. It promotes productivity and is particularly useful for people who work remotely or are separated from their team.

One of the most effective ways of creating efficiency in your days, and reaching project deadlines, is time blocking.

The method really is as simple as it sounds. Unlike a timetable, you set your calendar and tasks into dedicated blocks. You are committing a set amount of time to each task. Colour coding will help you differentiate between projects and personal tasks.

Not only does this help you to structure your day, but it can also help your team understand how you are working and structure their time blocking around you too—giving you maximum team productivity.

Every business, small or large, should make time management the foundation of their working day, learning this simple method is the cornerstone of a more successful and productive atmosphere at work or home.
Does time blocking really work?

The simple answer is yes, even the easily distracted among us benefit from time blocking.

Making To-Do lists is a great start. However, most of us will recognize that a to-do list doesn’t always help us manage our time effectively. There are specific tasks that we know should take a couple of hours, but end up taking a full day because we are distracted or interrupted. We also tend to rush through tasks at the end of the day to ensure we complete them, or forget to reply to emails and lose potential business.

Time blocking for remote workers or sole traders is particularly useful for days you have family members around. If your family can see the blocks of time you have set to work on specific projects, they know not to disturb you, giving uninterrupted hours for you to dedicate to the task set.

If you are part of a team in a busy office, the method can be very effective. Sharing your time blocking calendar enables your colleagues to see your timeline and to avoid disrupting you. It’s like a friendly ‘do not disturb’ sign. It will make the whole project management team more dynamic and effective, giving you a positive pathway to your deadlines.

A team of individuals can be hard to manage on group projects. Every person naturally has a different time in their day when they are least, or most, productive. Establishing these times and creating a team time block will help you to get the most out of all team members, leading you to your deadline and allowing for contingencies too.

An important thing to remember is that time is fluid. You should be able to adapt your time blocking to any unexpected issues that arise in your day. The method makes this simple as you can effectively move blocks around the remaining hours of your day.

What are the main benefits?

When a team leader works out how to manage projects successfully, they often will be working on simultaneous project briefs. With time blocking, you are prioritizing the most critical tasks first.

With extended deadlines and a simple to-do list distractions slip in, and workers may be tempted to help a colleague with something or agree to a meeting with a potential new client. The process of time blocking gives accountability and a mini deadline. There is a clear directive, and everyone understands that certain hours will be dedicated just to one task.

Breaking a to-do list into daily, weekly or even monthly time blocks makes sure that those high priority tasks are completed, and everything else comes second.

When you create your team’s time blocks, always add a contingency into the timing. Tight turnarounds can increase pressure on individuals, and while some may thrive on this, others will crumble. The contingency should be a small amount of extra time in each block; up to 30 minutes is usually a good starter.

Another benefit is with fewer distractions comes efficiency. If you are self-managing a time block, then it’s worth switching off all your communications devices, such as your phone or notifications. Team leaders setting high priority tasks could add this to the time block. Suggesting that during individual blocks that all communication devices are set to ‘do not disturb’ this will give even more focus to ensure projects are completed without distraction.

Time blocking is also an excellent tool for setting realistic timelines. It can be easy to be pressured into quick turnarounds on projects. Still, it is better to underpromise and over deliver on time than it is to pressurize your team or set yourself impossible deadlines. The project manager should utilize the method as part of the pitching process, to enable them to know what is possible.

Saying ‘no’ to people isn’t always easy, mainly if it is an important client asking for a quick favour or one of your bosses calling you into a meeting. Having a dedicated time block allows you to turn down any interruptions that could cause a delay in the project while allowing you to see if you could fit it in during the rest of your day or week.

Finally, it sets our reminders on a deadline too. Many businesses are guilty of not completing a quote or a pitch for new work because live projects are getting in the way. Having an effective time blocking system will help remind you to reach out to new or past clients and ensure your after sales are on point, and you are still attracting new clients and projects.

How do I start time blocking?

It’s pretty simple to get started, especially if you are already an avid to-do lister.

The process should start with a simple list of everything you need to get done. You may find it easier to start with a day, or you might prefer to do a whole week or even a month.

Once you have your list set out, you then need to work out the order of priority, which jobs are most urgent, what order is best to do them in.

It’s then time to look at your working day. This will either be the time you are in an office, or if you work from home, you may decide to set your day up into the most productive times. This depends on your personal circumstances. Some remote workers prefer to work early in the morning or late at night.

The high priority jobs need to be allocated first and should happen when you feel you are at your most productive.

Your time blocking should also include moments in your day for rest, including mealtimes or socialization. A typical working day includes trips to the restroom, cups of tea and periods of exercise, by scheduling these into blocks, you will be more productive on your priority tasks. It can also help to leave one hour free, in case any emergencies or revisions come into your day. You can then move around your blocks. While the method does require commitment, it should also be able to move organically to fit with a realistic schedule.

Once you have set up a rough version of your time block, it’s time to move it onto a calendar. There are lots of different ways you can do this, including making your own and printing it out. Having a hard copy helps us access and stick to our tasks much easier. Setting the alarm on each time block will also help you know when its time to move on to the next project.

When you start to add your tasks to the calendar, use a colour-coded system. It helps to have a theme for personal and for work, then different colour selections for high priority and lower priority.

As you get used to working this method, you may find you complete tasks quicker than expected. If this is the case, you should move all your tasks back. You can use any time you have at the end of the day to complete lower priority tasks or to pat yourself on the back and take a well-earned rest.

The more you use time blocking, the more productive you will become. It may seem a little complicated to begin with; however, once you have formed the habit, you’ll make light work of building your projects into time blocks.

So, if you have been struggling with deadlines or managing multiple projects and people, this method is an excellent foundation for driving your business forward, building new strategies and helping guide your workforce and clients towards a healthier working day.

Tips To Improve Your Business and Project Management Skills

StrategyDriven Professional Development Article | Tips To Improve Your Business and Project Management SkillsBusinesses need managers to run successful operations at various levels and across various departments. These managers efficiently plan, manage, supervise, control and monitor business operations. Senior managers need to develop communication, motivational, and leadership skills to further the success of the company. Self-management and time management are also attributes that successful managers display.

If you want a corporate career as a business manager or a project manager, you are aware that meeting and exceeding goals and objectives are key to your success. Efficient project managers and business managers are required to have a set of unique skills that enable them to execute their tasks better and meet deadlines well within time. However, developing these skills is not matter of joke. They need dedication and time on your part and a focused guidance to help you achieve your career goal.

Here are some handy tips to improve your management skills:

Master the art of time management. It makes for a loss as a manager to waste time since time is a limited resource. You just have 24 hours in a day. Time management skills come helpful in optimising time to meet your project deadlines. Allocating jobs skillfully to team members is a key responsibility area of a manager. Displaying good time management is evidence that, as a manager you understand the significance of productivity.

Learn from the past. There will be time in your career when your project will be halted due to unforeseen reasons. This is the time to bring out the best in you to be able to take the right decision. While seeking the advice of your immediate seniors is the obvious choice of many, reviewing successful old projects to understand the current problem better is helpful. This helps to take valuable ideas from the reviewed projects to run the current project efficiently.

Get better at communication. Effective communication with your team member is vital to the progress your project. Talk, hold meetings and respond in time to build confidence in your team through communication. Communication also established transparency among the team and boosts the morale of the team to deliver the project in time.

Set Expectations and Monitor Deliverables

A part of effective communication is also about letting your team members know what is expected of them. It is imperative to set expectations, so that everyone is aware of his responsibility. This helps in the team to follow process and guidelines and deadlines.

While setting responsibilities and expectations, you should keep a watchful eye on the timely delivery of work from your sub-ordinates. Monitor productivity closely on a day to day basis to optimise operations.

A good manager will require to master a number of different skills to progress in his career. Many graduation courses in Business and Project Management are available that help you sharpen your skills. Your online courses with Learning Cloud will offer you a vast array of business management courses that will imbibe managerial skills in you so that you can reach your career milestones earlier than others.

5 Tips for Successful Project Management

StrategyDriven Project Management Article | 5 Tips for Successful Project ManagementProject management in business can be challenging and so hiring someone who knows what they’re doing and having the right tools in place can make a big difference between your project being a success or a flop. Managing a budget, resources, and the team takes some serious organizational skills so if you want your business project to be a success, here are 5 tips to help you along the way.

Making a Solid Plan

Before you can manage a project, there needs to be a set plan in place that identifies the role of every team member and the goals for the project. It should be both clear and short. Having a solid plan for your project provides you with something to measure your success from or to change tactics if what you’re currently doing isn’t working against your plan. Planning ensures clarity for all team members and can help bring you back to the main goals of a project during the busiest times.

Hire a Project Manager

If you don’t already have a project manager in your team, now is the time to get one. A project manager is trained to know how to run projects in the most efficient way. A project manager knows how to choose a team, explore their strengths and weaknesses and use these to deliver a task to each team member. They can work alongside the team to reach the goals of the project and your business. There are countless benefits of hiring a project manager for your business.


Within any project, communication is key to avoiding mistakes and to achieve clarity throughout the team, as well as with any clients. Effective communication must take place often between your business and clients, so they are always up-to-date. The project manager should keep in contact with all team members, regularly checking in to ensure they understand their role and are working well towards their deadline. One of the biggest failures within a project is poor communication.

Use a Project Management Software

Project management software is used by companies worldwide and is there to make your project that much easier. Rather than saving file after file and using several communication platforms to speak to team members, project management software allows for everything in one place. The Digital Project Manager has compiled an expert review on the top 10 project management software that is available for your business. Within this, you can check features, price, and usability of each software.


This is one that many businesses forget yet evaluating can make a big difference in how you run your project next time. We cannot improve if we do not evaluate. Use your project as a learning tool. Review what went well and what didn’t and how these mistakes could have been avoided or fixed quickly. Ask team members for their opinions too, as this allows for a total evaluation.

Successful project management is all about clarity and communicating well together. Hiring a project manager will ensure that all your projects are a success.

7 Tips for Organizing Your Business Projects

StrategyDriven Portfolio Management Article  7 Tips for Organizing Your Business ProjectsIf your life is a jumbled mess at work, you’re not alone. Many people feel like they’re running a circus when they walk into their office.

Too many business projects can negatively affect your performance unless you learn how to manage them properly. Organizing your business projects doesn’t have to be a bore.

Continue reading this article to learn how to organize your business and get things done on time.

What You Need to Learn About Organizing Your Business

You might be learning more about getting help in your business. Even if you get help, if you don’t know how to organize your projects properly, you won’t experience progress.

1. Let Your Team Know Your Expectations Early

You can’t take on everything by yourself. Since you can’t take on everything by yourself, your team needs to be on the same page as you.

Letting your team know your expectations early will help keep you on track as well as help keep them on track. If you don’t have anyone looking up to you and counting on you to get things done, it is easy to let things slide.

When your team is watching and everyone knows the expectations you have for them, they will be held accountable and so will you.

2. Create & Follow a Template

Why recreate the wheel? If you’ve done something that worked in the past—keep doing it. Creating a template for your projects can help you save hours on end when you’re working on simple projects.

3. Compare Project Progress to Project Plan

If you don’t have a detailed project plan, it is far too easy for you and your team to fall behind on your projects. One of the best things you can do is to set times you’ll review the project’s progress and compare it to the project plan.

When you compare the progress and the plan, you’ll be able to see where things are going awry so you can fix them as quickly as possible.

4. Set Hard Deadlines for Milestones

Your project plan needs to include hard deadlines. If your team thinks there is leeway in the deadlines, you’ll rarely see them hit their deadlines.

While you don’t have to be hard on your team, you should let them know that you know what they are capable of and that you believe they can hit these milestones. Setting hard deadlines for milestone will keep you out of panic mode at the end of your project and ensure you stay organized and on track.

5. Communicate Frequently

Failure to communicate with your team frequently will result in project failure. If people have a question about a challenge they’re up against, they often don’t want to bother you so they’ll wait until the team meeting.

If you don’t have frequent team meetings, they will be stuck on the problem for quite some time which will delay the project unnecessarily.

6. Create & Stick to a Filing System

When you’re managing multiple projects you may have stacks of papers on your desk. While it does look like you’re busy, it doesn’t mean that you’re productive.

If your papers get mixed up or if you lose paperwork, this can be a major problem. A well-designed filing system can keep you from losing paperwork or making it difficult to find.

You can organize your filing system alphabetically but also consider color coding and splitting up different projects into their own filing cabinets to make things even easier when you’re trying to access files for a given project.

7. Use Project Management Software

The web can get pretty sticky and that is where much of your information is. If you don’t use project management software, you’re making your life unnecessarily difficult.

When you use project management software, you’ll be able to share digital files with your team in a click of a button. You’ll also be able to communicate about files and folders so everyone is on the same track.

While you do need your offline hard copies of files and folders, having information available in the cloud will reduce the amount of tag you need to play with your team. Almost all project management software is searchable as well so if you want to find a file, just type in the name and the results will be there for you.

Bonus Tips

When you want to keep your business projects in line, it helps if you have the rest of your business in hand as well. If your books are going wild and you aren’t on track with your taxes, you’re putting more stress on yourself than necessary.

Meeting with an accountant to make sure your books are in order, purging your office of anything you don’t need and even cleaning up your inbox can make it easier for you to run your business and all of its projects.

The small things you aren’t taking care of can add up to major problems that slow your business down and keep you from getting necessary work done. If you can’t get things in order on your own, delegate it to team members that work well in those areas.

Learn More Tips to Up-Level Your Business

Now that you know about organizing your business, why not get even more information to help your business? We have many articles on various business topics that can help you grow your business.

Navigate through our site, find your favorite section, drop a bookmark and come back later for more great reads.