Lean Office principles and tools

Now that you know what Lean Office is, what are the wastes and what it represents in an administrative process, let's talk about the principles of Lean Office and its tools for implementation.

Lean Office Principles

The principles of Lean philosophy were introduced by Womack and Jones (2003) to show that this was a practice that could be introduced in many different companies. They were first thought for Lean Manufacturing, but can easily be applied in the Lean Office, they are:
Value: defined by who requests it, what is the need;
Value stream: mapping the flow, identifying each step that does not create value and eliminating
Continuous flow: “Make the value creation steps occur in a fair sequence
so that the product or service flows smoothly in relation to the customer”,
says Womack, interactions between people must be planned and efficient;
Pull production: production is guided by the company's needs;
Perfection: Lean is not static, the company must be in search of constant
Knowing the theory is very interesting, but what about in practice? How do we implement Lean Office? There are some planning and action tools for this, in order to guide the company towards lean processes. The ones we consider most efficient are:


The 5S program is based on basic principles of organization and discipline and aims to create a suitable working environment for greater productivity. It is made by 5 principles, or 5 senses, which form the basis of organization and discipline needed in work environments:

Sense of Use: separating what is necessary from what is unnecessary;
Sense of Organization: keep necessary items in their places and within easy
Sense of Cleanliness: minimizing sources of dirt and managing shared responsibilities;
Sense of Standardization: create visual controls and guidelines to ensure best
Sense of Self-Discipline: it consists of the employees' discipline to maintain the standards
5S, involves communication and education.

BPM - Mapping

Business Process Mapping or BPM is a tool for mapping activities necessary for the delivery of a product/service. With it important information can be identified about each activity performed, such as the time required to complete the activity, who performs it, which system is used and whether the activity adds value, is
incidental or wasteful. Through this mapping we create the flow of the current situation (As Is) to make it easier
to visualize improvement needs and the creation of a future map (To Be). It's a way to structure the flows of materials and information allowing the implementation of improvements and cost and waste reduction.

Fluxo Contínuo e Sistema Puxado

Continuous Flow means connecting as much as possible the activities that add value to the product or service, with the least waste of time, movement or waiting, with the least waste possible between these steps. It speeds up the process, reduces inventory and lead time (total process time) and is related to the Pull System, in which the process starts only when  customer requests the product or service, without waiting and accumulating finished product.

Standardized work

Creates a sequence for flow activities by establishing rules, procedures, and methods for performing tasks, optimizing material movements and flow and/or informations through the process, reducing waste and balancing the workload between the team, as well as making training easier.

POKA YOKE – Error proofing system

Error-proofing is a systematic approach to anticipating or detect potential defects in the process and prevent them from reaching our customers. The error-proof system is formed by a set of measures that avoid or prevent generating errors during the process. When prevention is not possible, the system must be able to detect mistakes and not letting them go through the process.

Routine Management - PDCA Cycle

Its objective is to assist the development and continuous improvement in organizations through 4 actions: planPlan: develop a hypothesis; doDorun the experiment; check: (Checkevaluate the results; and actActrefine your experience and start a new cycle. Its use brings benefits such as: standardization of work, identification of gaps and and conflicts in processes, transformation of identified problems into opportunities, promotes time management, increases the quality of work, increases productivity and guarantees stable processes, among others.

Visual management

There are several ways to implement Visual Management, such as a whiteboard with the task of each employee and their status, or else a prospecting table. Visual management brings benefits such as: quick access to information, increases the Sense of Responsibility, focus in the main indicators and keeps the team aligned.


Improvement plan whose objective is to change processes to make them better. We at Grupo Engenho have our own methodology for the application of this tool that basically consists of 7 phases from the preparation and mapping of the processes to the development and validation of the action plan.