Lean product development is a creation method that focuses on improving the end-user experience. By following the five lean principles―defining value, mapping streams, building a production flow, streamlining inventory, and continuously improving products―creators gain a wide range of benefits when compared to more traditional creation models. That’s because lean is something that’s not just limited to the development of products. It impacts the entire life cycle, from creation and prototyping to manufacturing and maintenance.
While many view lean manufacturing processes as something relegated to large organizations or massive assembly lines, it can work for producers of all sizes. The many benefits of lean product development make it ideal for creators who are just starting with their first projects. By working with a partner who follows lean principles, they can improve their designs and pave the way for production ramp-ups in the future.
10 Benefits of Lean Product Development
The benefits of lean product development are extensive, making this a go-to method for creation across all industries, from computer applications to mass manufacturing. Lean builds predictability into an often unpredictable process. Here are just a few ways that lean helps creators.
#1: Reduces waste
Lean is a method that centers on cutting out both actual physical waste and wasted working hours. That may include using materials as efficiently as possible by cutting them in a specific way or working with certain types of technology. This strategy also encompasses creating a set process for completing the design and continuously looking at ways to minimize the number of steps.
#2: Improves results
Repeated testing and revising of designs are done, both to improve the product itself and the process of creating it. Benchmarking, where a company can measure itself against its competitors, is a standard tool for determining how products can be improved for an edge.
#3: Speeds creation
One primary goal of lean is to eliminate process steps. Cutting out unnecessary movements can significantly shave the timeline from concept to product creation. Virtually, anything that doesn’t add value to the process is cut and, as a result, production is streamlined.
#4: Empowers stakeholders
Everyone involved in a lean process is welcome to provide feedback on ways it can be improved. Such open-door policies foster collaboration and spur innovation. It’s not uncommon for someone working on the front line to have insight into the target audience’s desires, so encouraging them to share insight improves results.
#5: Provides flexibility
Today’s fast-paced economy is one that requires pivoting. A design that was useful six months ago may lack relevance in the current market. As lean allows so many opportunities for testing and evaluation, this is an ideal strategy for changing with consumer demands.
#6: Streamlines production
One major part of lean product development is design for manufacturing. The developer builds the product in a way that can be easily replicated during the manufacturing process. Steps are refined and improved to enhance production.
#7: Builds knowledge
Learning from mistakes and waste is an essential lean principle. With this knowledge, creators don’t just improve their initial product design. They enhance their process of designing all future products.
#8: Simplifies error tracking
As a lean process breaks down into a strict set of steps, it’s much easier to find where errors occur and eliminate them. If a component of a design is faulty, it’s as easy as looking at where each step occurs and discussing it with those involved parties.
#9: Establishes clear success metrics
Process-driven strategies are ideal for setting clear success metrics for production, testing, and the overall ROI of a project. Things that may have been difficult to quantify in the past, like customer satisfaction or waste reduction, are qualified using numerical values for easy tracking.
#10: Builds a better end-user experience
Continuous improvement is a benchmark of lean philosophy. Feedback generated from users helps improve the design and build a better product. This strategy is ideal for managing a changing market where customers’ buying behavior may change in a moment.
Finding a Lean Production Partner
While lean is an excellent tool for many reasons, it’s not exactly easy to implement. Failure rates for lean policies range from 50 to 95%. A lot of that stems from a lack of experience. Leaders may decide to apply lean principles but not fully understand how to execute them. This is why partnerships are so important.
The benefits of lean product development partners can help creators take advantage of this process while eliminating the risk of mistakes. As the partner already has a successful lean program in place, the creator can use it as a guide for their own production methods. Through an effective partnership, the creator enjoys the benefits of lean without the headache of establishing their own program.
PRL is a full-service product development company that specializes in all aspects of production, from design to product fabrication and prototyping. Our experts are here to guide you through the full product development process, including the ideation, design, creation, and management of your product idea.