Make the Commitment
The ultimate goal of establishing lean processes is the ability to do more with less by eliminating waste. As with any process change, there may be some initial reluctance among staff to adopt lean processes. However, the challenge to adopting lean may lie not only in getting initial commitment to the implementation of lean processes, but also in making that commitment last so that the benefits will endure.
Anyone who has read articles about lean processes has seen stories of organizations that have realized great results from an initial push for lean only to return to former processes (and performance) over time. Lean only works over the long term if there is buy-in from leadership as well as staff. Leadership should demonstrate the importance of lean to the company, or staff will not believe it is important for them to adhere to lean processes. This is especially applicable for more administrative functions like procurement, where the results of increased efficiency are not seen in tangible products.
A true focus on identifying and improving areas of inefficiency must be maintained for lean process adoption to result in full benefits for a company. Companies adopting lean within their procurement functions should make sure that all stakeholders are prepared to make the change to lean for good so that the benefits last.
Becky Partida is a knowledge specialist, supply chain management, with APQC, a member-based nonprofit and one of the leading proponents of benchmarking and best practice business research.