Do Lean Principles Apply in a Service Industry?

Regardless if you are a healthcare facility, school or university or a consulting engineering firm, we are all looking for ways to reduce cost, increase quality and drive employee engagement.  Lean concepts and principles have long been a part of industry but how can they be applied in a service industry?

Some of these principles include increasing value, reducing waste and respecting people.  Increasing value means providing customers (patients, students, clients) with what they want, when they want it and at the minimal total cost.  This could cover the entire spectrum of the services that we provide.  Reducing waste focuses on eliminating those activities that do not create value.  Look to your processes to eliminate waste in transportation, inventory, motion, waiting, over processing, over production, defects and unused skills and talents.  Respecting people means to engage people in work that is valued and meaningful.  Utilize people to a higher potential to generate more value.  The single greatest asset a service organization has is its people.

To start this process an organization must address and align its purpose, process and people.  Cost reduction is an outcome; the real goal is value maximization by satisfying real customer desire.  Barton Associates is currently implementing lean principles and continuous improvement tools to create greater value for our clients.  We would welcome the opportunity to work with your organization to provide best of class engineering services, when you want them and at the minimal total cost.

If you would like to learn more about how these principles might apply to your organization or how we can work together in a more integrative way, please do not hesitate to contact Michael Rader, PE, CEM, CEP at (717) 845-7654 or

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