Applying Lean Methods in Real World Projects


By Wayne Bullard, PMP, LSC

Texas, USA


Different companies may see projects differently.  In working for non-PMO firms who are looking to keep costs down while providing optimal project support, Lean has become a successful tool in the arsenal of achievement. Lean allows for stabilizing, standardizing, and simplifying procedures and processes that eliminate wasted time, resources, and costs.  Lean has also served to build understandable models to communicate how the procedure or process relates to the products and/or services provided to customers.

The three case studies cover different real world projects from start to finish merging lean ideas into each because of a corporate culture more inclined toward Six Sigma, Lean, or other methodologies. Instead of digging PMP trenches to battle for the best method, being adaptable opened communication within teams, opportunities to update, and paths to successful completion.

These diverse case studies cover technology for a wireless services optimization project, procurement for a capital approval procedure, and business operations for a real estate selection workflow and tracker.  The paper will illustrate by being flexible to take ownership of a project, the teams met the corporate vision and advanced their project management capabilities.


Lean approaches problems like a scientist seeking knowledge through research. Merriam-Webster defines the Scientific Method as “principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.”

In a similar manner with Lean, the knowledge of the problem has been recognizing “Muda”, or waste, in production. Taiichi Ohno pursuit of eliminating waste starts with asking why five times to uncover the root of the problem for to formulate, test and observe solutions, or “how” to be more productive.  He defines this with the simple equation of

Present capacity = work + waste

The Toyota Production System he developed sought to identify and eliminate waste completely when discovered.  The areas of wastes are:

  • Overproduction
  • Waiting
  • Transportation
  • Processing
  • Inventory
  • Movement
  • Defects

Taiichi Ohno summarizes it simply in an interview. “All we are doing is looking at the time line from the moment the customer gives us an order to the point when we collect the cash.  And we are reducing that time line by removing the non-value-added wastes.”

The start was slow as Mr. Ohno’s implementation was contained in the production line within his responsibility at Toyota.  Management and workers outside of his line were skeptical but one key element allowed him to move forward, leadership acceptance to allow him to make improvements.  It was not until his promotion to a general manager role did it begin to expand into other production lines due to leadership recognizing his achievements and assigned more responsibilities.


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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English.  Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright.  This paper was originally presented at the 10th Annual UT Dallas Project Management Symposium in August 2016.  It is republished here with permission of the author and conference organizers.


About the Author

Wayne Bullard, PMP

Texas, USA



Wayne Bullard
, PMP, LGC has been a practicing project professional since 1996, earning Project Management Professional certification through PMI in 2005, and earning Lean Bronze Certified in 2013 and Lean Silver in 2016.  Wayne has served nonprofits and industries in finance, construction, wireless and telecommunications, community associations, event planning, and manufacturing.  Wayne brings about positive changes for designing and streamlining policies and procedures, reducing waste and expenses, creating technology lifecycle trackers, leading facility and safety best practices in the workplace, managing vendor relationships, contract negotiations, and asset tracking to minimize losses.  He has served roles as IT technology specialist and management, real estate specialist and project manager, facility manager, and Vice President IT Networks. Wayne currently works with corporate real estate, nonprofits, offers mentoring, and is actively planning for his Lean Gold certification.

Wayne can be contacted at [email protected]