Document Detail

Title: RS234-1 - Lean Implementation at the Project Level
Publication Date: 8/1/2007
Product Type: Research Summary
Status: Supporting Product
Pages: 26
Builds on previous CII research into lean construction and explains how to apply the lean ideal at the project level. Provides guidance for an owner, supplier, or subcontractor on how to get begin applying lean techniques. Taking on lean means having a long-term view, full commitment of the organization, and resources. Dramatic improvements in cost, schedule, quality, and safety are possible when lean techniques are applied at the project level.
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In 2004, the Construction Industry Institute (CII) investigated how lean principles could be applied to construction. Building on this work, CII initiated the Lean Implementation at the Project Level Research Team to uncover and understand the secrets of success in applying lean at the project level (specifically, how to manage construction project delivery in a way that enables and encourages the pursuit of lean).

The lean goal is “to deliver projects per agreement, while maximizing value for all stakeholders and minimizing waste.” Continuous improvement is an implied lean goal. Lean, however, cannot be pursued by selectively applying individual tools for quick results. It requires leadership commitment to sustain the processes. In order for subcontractors and suppliers to begin implementing lean, benefits and risks must be equitable to all parties.

Although some successful applications of lean tools and techniques at the project level have been noted, studies have shown such applications are sometimes incorrectly applied, resulting in reverting to enforcement of contract driven traditional project control.

The intent of this research is to provide guidance for an owner, engineer, or constructor firm, and to assist owner organizations, subcontractors, and suppliers in getting started on applying lean techniques.

Prior to starting implementation of lean, however, project delivery systems must have a firm foundation in which to begin building improvements. All companies should start in their own organization and learn by doing, then reach out to engage other stakeholders.

Correctly applied, lean principles result in immediate improvements in project delivery including cost, schedule, quality, and safety performance. To make sustainable gains and truly become a lean enterprise will require a long-term view and full commitment of the organization, extensive learning, and commitment of resources. This research has shown that dramatic results are possible when applied at the project level.