Getting Started with Lean Construction

There are several tools, methods and systems that have been developed to apply lean principles to construction. They can be used independently or jointly to implement lean practice in construction projects.

About Lean Construction

Lean construction is based on a simple concept: create value for the client and minimize waste. Implementing lean thinking into construction can be difficult because it requires adopting a different mindset and approach to construction from traditional methods.

The goal for using lean construction is to achieve a continuous workflow that is reliable and predictable. Unlike manufacturing, where lean thinking was born, construction doesn’t normally take place in a controlled environment which presents challenges to creating a continuous workflow.

The cornerstone of lean construction is collaboration between all parties involved: client, architect, engineers, main contractor, sub contractors, and  suppliers. Everyone involved must be engaged and work together to create value for the client by improving processes and eliminating waste.

Cutting costs, reducing construction duration, eliminating material waste, and improving worker productivity are all achieved with the successful implementation of lean principles. These principles should drive and guide you to discovering and developing the tools and methods to achieving the goals of lean construction.

Lean Tools, Methods and Systems

There are several tools, methods and systems that have been developed to apply lean principles to construction. They can be used independently or jointly to implement lean practice in construction projects.

To get you started, here are some of them that you can implement on your path to lean construction:

Pull Planning
Pull planning is a scheduling method where you start from the end goal, the completed project, and work backward to identify and review milestones, break the project down into phases and create a weekly work plan. Pull planning is a collaborative effort where project stakeholders work together to identify essential tasks and everything gets mapped out on a plan board or on a digital pull planning software. Everyone works together to understand how each task and activity impacts other tasks on the schedule and to identify where improvements and adjustments need to be made for efficiency. The schedule is reviewed as work progresses to adjust the weekly work plan to ensure that project milestones are being met on time.

Integrated Project Delivery
Integrated Project Delivery is a collaborative delivery method that focuses on utilizing the experience, knowledge and insights from the project stakeholders on the project to create value and eliminate waste through all phases of the project from design to construction. Integrated Project Delivery often involves forming a multi-party agreement where the key players execute a single contract and requires a high level of trust and openness.

Last Planner System
The Last Planner System, developed by the Lean Construction Institute, is planning system that involves collaboration and combines pull planning, make-ready and look-ahead planning with constraint analysis, weekly work planning based upon reliable promises, and learning based upon
analysis of plan percent complete and reasons for variance.

Value Stream Mapping
A value stream map is a flowchart that visualizes the flow of each process, information and value. Items on the value stream map get identified as either adding value or not adding value to find ways to eliminate waste and remove or alter steps that don’t add value. The focus of value stream mapping is to create the most value for the client efficiently while rooting out ways to avoid process delay and downtime.

Lean 5S
Lean 5S is a method to maintain order and organize a jobsite or work area by eliminating waste. The goal is to have all the tools, materials, etc. to complete the work in an organized manner are and avoid having workers running around the project site looking for items.

The 5’s are:
Sort – Go through all the tools, materials and equipment required to do the work and remove anything that is not needed.
Set in Order – All items that were sorted should be placed in a designated storage area like a tool crib based on the frequency they are being used to improve efficiency. Everything should be clearly labelled so that anyone on the project site knows where to find and return items after they are used.
Shine – Keep the work area clean and make sure all tools and equipment are returned to their correct location.
Standardize – Create a standardized system to stay organized. Develop a schedule and assign task so that personnel and workers know what they are responsible for doing.
Sustain – Self-discipline. This involves making sure everyone is following through on the earlier four ‘S’ steps. Keep everyone motivate and momentum going as well as identify ways to improve each of the other steps.

How Sysnovate can help your Organization?

Sysnovate offers Collaborative Planning System, Digital Lean Plan, Do, Digital Inspection and Defects Management and Lean 5S for organizations to improve planning reliability, collaboration and commitment of project teams, and fulfil project goals. Sysnovate provides tools, training and guidance to apply lean construction for your projects.

Sysnovate is a management and lean-agile consulting firm providing consultancy and training services for organizations in the property development, construction, engineering, facilities management and related sectors. Sysnovate places emphasis on 3 core pillars: people, process and technology. Its services are focused on integrated quality, environmental, safety and health (QESH) management, ISO management systems, QLASSIC quality assessment system, process and productivity enhancement, lean management and continual improvement.


Contact us or reply this email for a discussion on Collaborative Planning System, Digital Lean PlanDo, Digital Inspection, and Defects Management and Lean 5S for your projects.

Call us at 603 4045 8502 or email at

Apply Lean Construction. More Money, Less Waste.