LEAN was originally used to optimize the production processes in Toyota in the 1950s, but is today a recognized tool for optimizing all kinds of processes and value creation in companies, not least in procurement.
The reason why LEAN is a good tool to use when working with the processes in the organization is that it is a recognized and thoroughly tested method apparatus that is at the same time easy to use. LEAN provides a good picture of where the organization is at present and what it takes to remove what does not create value in the processes.
LEAN consists of five basic principles. See the figure below:
With the methods from LEAN thinking, you can analyze your way to best practice, and thus you get the opportunity to identify the non-value-creating processes - also called waste. When identifying waste, it is clear which factors hinder an optimized value chain. An optimized value chain is ultimately about being as cost-effective and thus as competitive as possible.
Eliminate waste = Become more cost effective = Become more competitive
Within LEAN, they operate with eight different types of waste. Some waste types are e.g. overproduction: and waiting time. Overproduction is, for example, when activities are carried out before they are actually needed, while waiting time can be, for example, an employee who waits between processes and therefore is not able to work efficiently in flow.
Studies show that strategic buyers spend less than 40% of their time in their core areas. The rest of the time is spent on administration etc.
By utilizing the methods in LEAN thinking within procurement, it is possible to use the visibility identified in the supply chain for e.g. to lower inventories, optimize processes and make the best possible use of employee time, so that the time is instead spent on value-creating processes.