Assessing Information Waste in Lean Product Development
Author(s)Graebsch, Martin; Seering, Warren P.; Lindemann, Udo
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Lean Product Development seeks to enhance the efficiency of product development projects by reducing and eliminating non-value-adding activities or waste, which can exist on every process level. The value stream through product development processes is a flow of information, and hence waste exists in interpersonal communication. The study elaborates the hypothesis that most information transfers do not add value to the product. It was further theorized that different means of communication are better suited for different kinds of information, at least from the lean point of view. In order to understand the occurrence and ramifications of waste in product development information flows, the information transferred between team members was analyzed in two student product development projects. With the help of a paper-based value stream map, frequencies of waste drivers in information, the share of waste in information transfers, the interdependencies of waste and means of communication, as well as timeliness of information transfers were analyzed. The study’s results show that waste is omnipresent in product development information transfers, as only twelve percent of all information transfers contribute value to the product, and nearly half of the information transfers could have been omitted without a decrease in product value. Assuming that preparing, sending, receiving and retrieving information accounts for most of the time spent in product development processes, an enormous theoretical potential for efficiency enhancements could thus be identified.
lean product development (lean PD), waste, value stream mapping (VSM), information transfer
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