Last spring, we ran a series of blog posts about where we adapted the Lean philosophy to the MSP context. That series, and the e-book that went along with it, provided a powerful high-level overview of the concept, some food for thought to get you started. This month, we’ll be running a follow-up series, where we get into the nuts and bolts of transforming your MSP into a Lean MSP. Last week we showed you what lean actually looks like, to give you a sense of what it will look like when your MSP adopts lean philosophy.It all starts with your vision for where you are going. The short and simple version is that a Lean MSP is one that is dedicated to continuous improvement, that always seeks to eliminate waste, and perform better. There are no magic tricks to getting lean – it’s all about having a plan, executing that plan, and then doing it all again the next day.
Step One: Engage the Leadership
If leadership isn’t on board, none of this is going to work. Lean is a continuous process that is built into your organization at the all levels. When you get into the lean groove, you will find that everybody in contributing to waste reduction. It becomes one of the things your team thinks about. To get to that point, you need every single leader in the company, from the CEO on down, to buy in. Get the CEO on board and you’ll have the resources you need to get started. More important, the organization’s objectives and Lean can be brought into alignment, something that simply cannot happen without support at the highest level. For that reason, there is no step more important than this one.
The boss is having trouble seeing the value. Here’s one way to demonstrate the value of Lean (borrowed from Karyn Ross at Industry Week). “Find a team that does similar work, such as entering customer transactions or answering customer calls. Give each team member a different colored pad of post-it notes and choose one particular process all team members complete regularly. Ask each team member to write the series of steps that he or she takes to do the work on a separate post-it note.” What are the odds everybody is doing the exact same thing? If they’re each doing different things, some will be doing it better than others. Just getting everybody to do it the best way is taking the lean pathway to improving efficiency and standardizing outcomes.
Step Two: Develop a Lean Roadmap
Lean doesn’t just happen; it’s a way of doing business that unfolds over time. This is especially true in an MSP, where processes can be complicated, and have different decision points. So you need a roadmap for how to transform your MSP into a Lean MSP. You need champions throughout the organization – but especially the person in charge of your service desk. You’ll need some training so your team understands the concepts, and their role in implementing Lean. The roadmap should then include tactics for brainstorming and prioritizing Lean initiatives.
Step Three: Communications
The key to making Lean work is communication. If your team members understand the role that they play in implementing Lean, it just works better. Explain the concept, but briefly. Ask them to identify a source of waste in their job – something that should be automated but isn’t; a redundant process; or just something that seems to take longer than it really should.
The company should receive updates on Lean initiatives, especially in the beginning, so that everybody from the CEO on down can see the results for themselves. Keep it simple, something like “Our techs were wasting 20% of their time looking for information, so we implemented IT Glue, and we cut that in half.”
Next week, we’ll discuss how to break down tasks in order to identify specific areas of waste.
If you want to learn more, a great start is to download the Lean MSP e-book: