Lean vs Agile
In today’s competitive markets, there is an increasing pressure on companies to make products more quickly, with a greater variety, and at the lowest possible cost. There have been many theories proposed to make a company more productive and cost efficient by improving upon manufacturing processes. Two of the more popular approaches in this regard are lean manufacturing and agile manufacturing. Out of the two, lean appeared earlier. Since agile is relatively new, and it also incorporates the best features of lean, there are bound to be similarities in the two concepts. However, there are differences between the two concepts that will be highlighted in this article to enable a common man understand the features of both with their pros and cons.
What is Lean manufacturing?
Lean manufacturing or lean production, which is commonly referred to as simply Lean, is a production practice that considers expenditure of resources for anything other than creation of value for the end customer as wasteful, and thus a target for elimination. Lean implies more with less. This is a production philosophy that was first adopted by Toyota Motors and hence also referred to as Toyotism. The gradual growth of Toyota from a small company to one of the leading manufacturers of cars in the world is attributed to adoption of this Lean approach.
As discussed earlier, the goal in Lean is to eliminate as much as possible waste from the process and to optimize the flow of work to achieve maximum efficiency. Today Lean has transformed as a concept from manufacturing to even services based industries and people are talking of Lean even in software development. Lean has many advantages over ordinary processes.
Advantages of Lean:
It identifies opportunities to improve product quality
Reduces risk by testing of product and using feedback at every opportunity
The process of identification of waste reduces cost factor and thus increases profitability
It instills an environment of continuous learning and improvement.
What is Agile manufacturing?
Agile is a relatively recent product that has emerged as a system of doing business that takes up best features of Lean and adds some new features. It refers to a manufacturing strategy where new products are introduced in a rapidly changing market to thrive in a competitive market which is characterized by unforeseen changes. Agile strategy focuses on how operations can respond to a changing environment. It is the ability of a company to be alive to opportunities and be prepared to effect changes in time to be ahead of other companies. In their endeavor, Agile companies are supported by an innovative staff, an adaptable organizational structure and a network of suppliers, customer relations and other knowledge based organizations. These strategies offer an advantage not only to Agile Company but also to its stakeholders.
Advantages of Agile
It gets solutions in the market faster reducing the development cycle considerably.
Failing projects get cancelled quickly avoiding huge losses
Priority changes can be effected easily and quickly with minimum of waste.
Difference between Lean and Agile
• Whereas Lean centers on reducing waste as far as possible, Agile focuses on being alert to opportunities effecting changes in a fast manner
• Lean believes in frugality at all costs whereas Agile reduces costs by reducing losses