In the first two posts in this series, we introduced you to the basic concept of lean, and outlined the 8 wastes of lean, focusing on the wastes most important to the lean MSP. But that’s not to take away from the value of examining all wastes, because in most organizations there is room for improvement on multiple fronts. The good news is that the basic process for eliminating a form of waste is the same, no matter what waste you choose to target first.

Identify the waste

Your first go at lean will allow you to tackle a low-hanging fruit, a process where you already know there’s a lot of waste. The thing is, organizations that are committed to lean always seem to find an area where they can improve. There may be times when brainstorming is required, but usually not. Once lean is part of your culture, identifying areas of waste is actually pretty easy. You can choose an area where improvement is needed ASAP, or where you feel you can get a quick win, or where you feel you can make the biggest gains for your company – there are a lot of ways to prioritize action items.

Brainstorm solutions

A key component of lean is finding the best way to eliminate waste. As with any form of problem-solving, you can do this a lot of different ways. But get the people who understand the problem in a room together and get some ideas on a whiteboard as to how the problem can be solved. What you’ll probably find is that the big area of waste you identified has a lot of little components, and there’s waste in each one of those. Identify possible solutions to each individual component problem – you may ultimately focus on one, but you may also choose to solve multiple problems simultaneously.

Choose a solution

Find the solution(s) that you want to implement first. Start with solutions that are easy to execute, as this will lock in some quick wins and reinforce the value of lean philosophy with your team. Gather the current metrics and set targets for the improvements you hope to achieve. And don’t forget that there are a wealth of tools out there now that can provide comprehensive, off-the-shelf solutions to a lot of MSP waste.


At this point, it’s just a matter of project management. You have a plan you want to implement, and you have target metrics. Now it’s time to set time frames, SMART goals, assign tasks and steward the project to completion.


If your measures worked well, you can easily evaluate the success of your plan. If your measures did not work well, the first step will be to improve on the measures. If your plan worked, examine to see if there might be opportunity for further improvements. If it did not, evaluate what went wrong. This is the time for honest reflection about the challenges and successes of the project, especially when you are first learning how to implement lean in your MSP.


Find the next area for process improvement, and do it all over again. Remember, you will never run out of potential areas for improvement.

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The IT Glue platform is aimed at eliminating time waste, by ensuring that the information you need has been documented, and is available at your fingertips when you need it. Since 2013, we have been helping IT service providers to reduce organizational waste, and enjoy virtually instant ROI. By leveraging lean philosophy, an MSP can optimize its revenue, minimize its costs, and deliver superior customer satisfaction.