How much Planning is enough – Use Lean and Standardize

When you listen to consultants and so called experts, all they talk about is planning. The reason they exist is for the planning stages. Where are these guys at when it is time to get the work done anyway? Many companies will just take the attitude of let’s just get it done – there is not time for all this planning. If something happens, we will just have to deal with it anyway, plan or no plan. So let’s get started, right?

iStock_000003649385Large.jpgSlow down Cowboy! How much time does it really take to plan? From my experience you should use a baseline of around 5% of your projects time in planning. So if you have a project that will consume 400 hours that would be 20 hours. Do you think that is unreasonable? Do you believe that a plan would produce fewer negative consequences or less than 20 hours of non-productive fire fighting?

Now, what happens if planning takes longer? You need to treat your planning process like any other process. Using a standard methodology such as lean and the toolset that it employs will allow you the opportunity to get the most out of your planning cycle. It will allow improving your planning process removing the waste that you have accumulated in it. I have found most companies actually enjoy planning, the collaboration and decision-making that take place during it. What everyone doesn’t like is the waste in planning, so get rid of it!

The first thing you can do is plan the planning process. Take 5% of your planning time to improve your planning. Set objectives, milestones, create key performance indicators and most of all create a standard work plan. You could even have a Kaizen to 5S your planning process. After doing this a few times, planning will become very easy, intuitive and more productive. Consider that if you significantly improve your planning process, you will create considerable down-flow opportunities of greater savings. Try it!

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