Lean Methodology & Lean Project Management

Created by Marcel Folaron, Modified on Fri, 27 Oct 2023 at 04:15 PM by Marcel Folaron

Lean Methodology

The lean methodology originates in the Toyota Production System, which was developed by Taiichi Ohno in the 1950s. Ohno was tasked with improving the efficiency and productivity of the Toyota manufacturing plant; which was facing severe resource constraints due to the post-World War II economy in Japan. Ohno observed that much of the time and resources were wasted on non-value-adding activities, such as excess inventory and overprocessing. 

In turn, he developed a system that focused on minimizing waste and maximizing value by empowering workers to identify and eliminate waste in their work processes.

Lean methodology is based on five core principles:

  1. Value: Identify the value that the customer wants and focus on delivering that value.
  2. Value Stream: Map the value stream, which is the sequence of activities that are required to deliver the value to the customer. Identify any non-value-adding activities in the value stream.
  3. Flow: Ensure that the value stream flows smoothly and without interruption. Remove any obstacles or bottlenecks that impede the flow.
  4. Pull: Use a pull system to ensure that products or services are produced only when there is demand from the customer. This minimizes overproduction and excess inventory.
  5. Continuous Improvement: Continuously improve the value stream by identifying and eliminating waste. Empower workers to identify and solve problems in their work processes.

Lean Project Management

Lean project management is lean methodologies applied to project management. Lean project management focuses on delivering the maximum value for that project while removing project waste. 

The concept of eliminating waste is the primary motivator in lean projects. Examples of waste in a project include over planning, under planning (then building up technical and other debt), excessive deliberation (taking too long to finalize plan), work delays, unexpected hiccups, resource distribution, and failing to set up the project properly.

The Lean in Leantime

In Leantime, lean methodologies & lean project management are included as principles. We believe the less overwhelming project management is (the more eliminated waste), the more efficient and more value you'll get from your projects. As we build out features, we are always asking ourselves "is this efficient enough?" and as we grow, we will keep those principles.


One of the key tools used in lean project management is the Kanban system. Kanban is a visual tool  used to manage and control work processes. It is based on the pull principle of the lean methodology; where work is produced only when there is demand from the customer. 

The board is divided into columns that represent the different stages of the value stream, such as To Do, In Progress, and Done. Each task or work item is represented by a card that moves from one column to the next as it progresses through the value stream. The Kanban system helps to quickly see the work in progress, identify bottlenecks and optimize the flow of work.

The A3 Report in Lean project management

Another important tool in lean project management is the A3 report. The A3 report is a one-page document that is used to summarize a problem, its root cause, and the proposed solution. The A3 report is based on the PDCA cycle (Plan-Do-Check-Act), which is a problem-solving approach that is used in lean project management. The A3 report helps to communicate the problem and the proposed solution to stakeholders, and it provides a framework for continuous improvement.

Kanban & A3 in Leantime

As our goal is to take the best of project management approaches while making them lean, easier to use, and applying them to make a more practical project management, we've also incorporated a Kanban board in the system and you can progress you task lists across this view. For ideas, we also have a kanban view. 

While we don't have an A3 report in the system, we do have our Project Value Canvas. If you don't touch blueprints at all, this is the one place we recommend you using it. It's a quick way to summarize a problem, who is impacted, the solution and the benefits of the solution.

Looking for more information? Check out our blog.

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