Maintaining momentum with Lean Daily Management

Written by  Jill Dooney
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In our final part of this focus on Lean, we examine Lean Daily Management which has been described as the industrialisation of back office work, bringing approaches that are more usual in a factory to administrative tasks.

Lean Daily Management is best used with teams who undertake the same activities on a routine basis, for example, invoicing or order processing. The tenets of this approach are that team members look at how each task is done and agree on “one best way” to standardise it. There are detailed task cards that explain what to do and how to do it and tasks are timed to create a clear view on what everyone is expected to achieve daily. The team create a visible, hourly tally of how they are getting through the day’s work. There are daily huddles where the team leader reviews the previous day’s performance and together they can plan the day ahead. Where this is put into practice across the whole organisation, senior managers have visibility of high performing teams and know the ones in need of help. There can be drawbacks for team members who have an independent streak! Such colleagues need their energy channelling into looking at even better ways to do the daily work and sharing these ideas. Another drawback is that it focuses within the department rather than looking at the flow through to the customer, but the clarity of process it delivers, does make it easier when departments come together to share how they work with each other.


Real world example

A number of the UK’s high street banks are using Lean Daily Management to improve the efficiency of their back office processes, such as ISA processing. Knowing the predicted volume of work and the time to process each application, they can calculate what resource is required. They then rigorously manage the flow of work throughout the day. One of the roles in the team is the Flow Leader. This person will address the impact of a lack of resource, measure hourly how much work has been completed against the hourly target and calculate the amount outstanding to finish “today’s work today” (TWT). All the figures are visible so that the team know how they are doing, other team leaders know how well each other is progressing and senior managers know where their support may be required. A system of flags is used to improve this communication further. A team will show a green flag when they are on target for TWT and will display orange or even red flags if they are likely to fail. Team Leaders will “huddle” in the middle of the day to see if sharing resource will help them all to succeed. The application of this system leads to an objective assessment of performance and predictability in achieving the objective.



So, that is three different implementation choices, based on the Lean approach. All are worthwhile when used separately or they can be used in combination to get the best results. This combined approach could involve using Lean Six Sigma projects to address customer facing problems revealed by satisfaction surveys. Then a Lean blitz could be set up to understand the process flow from sales to underwriting, to ensure that credit sanctioning is efficient and done in the quickest possible time. Finally Lean Daily Management could be applied in the order processing department to ensure they are resourced and managed to meet the workload and that the work is done to the required quality. In the end the success of the Lean Programme will depend on senior management’s desire to make it happen together with rigorous planning and resourcing.

Jill Dooney is a qualified Six-Sigma practitioner and specialises in organisational transformation using Lean techniques.  For more information on how we can introduce Lean into your organisation contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.