Lean has been the cornerstone of manufacturing ever since Toyota’s success in the 1930s. This means then that it has actually been around for almost 100 years! The world is continually evolving, especially as businesses start doing more to stand out from their competition. This is why more manufacturing organisations are looking to Agile for a fresh approach.

What is Agile?

Agile is a term used in the past to describe an approach to software development but is now being implemented in all industries. In his book, “Succeeding with Agile”, Mike Cohn describes Agile methodology as “emphasizing teamwork, frequent deliveries of working solutions, close customer collaboration, and the ability to respond quickly to change”. You’ll recognise that these are all qualities that can be used in manufacturing.

Agile comes in several varieties, but some popular ones include scrum, which emphasises creativity and teamwork, and kanban, which concentrates on reducing lead times and the amount of work in progress.

How does Agile help?

According to the Harvard Business Review, organisations that have made the switch to Agile have reported the following benefits:

· Superior quality products

· Higher customer satisfaction

· Continuous improvement

· Increases team happiness

· Rapid response to problems

Why change?

Whatever process you’re using today might be working. If that’s the case you’re welcome to stick with it. Just remember, though, that the rate of change in the world has accelerated dramatically in the last 30 years and product manufacturing cycles that were acceptable 10 years ago might not be acceptable in 5 years’ time. One of the principles of Lean is continuous improvement, always looking for ways to be better.

How do I get started?

The first step of change is to recognise that the status quo could be improved, and then that turns into a desire to do something different. That won’t get you anywhere, however, unless you acquire the skills and ability to be agile. Get in touch with us if you want to learn about the next steps. At PrintDATA we are firm believers in the agile process. Our team members have taken courses in Agile, Scrum and Kanban and can share our experience with you.

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