Microsoft Pushing Lean


Microsoft: Lead and sustain lean manufacturing transformations enterprise-wide

I was surprised to see last week that the blog is getting a lot of traffic from a Microsoft webpage. Turns out, it's a page about lean.

So how does Microsoft answer the “what is lean?”

“Traditional lean manufacturing practices, tools, and methodologies are designed to help transform manufacturers to a customer driven, pull-based, on-demand operation versus an internally focused, push-based, forecast-driven operation. In essence, transform production operations to synchronize with actual customer demand. If successful, lean principals and practices can dramatically:

Lower manufacturing costs.

Increase operational efficiency.

Increase on-time delivery performance.

Improve quality and customer service.

Improve employee morale.

Increase competitiveness.

Generate new sources of value.”

OK, not a horrible definition. You can also read my attempt at a definition.

Of course, you part way down the page and Microsoft starts pushing software, of course.

“Fortunately, new IT solutions have emerged that can be seamlessly integrated into existing ERP/MRP systems enabling a smooth and orderly transition from “push-based” to “pull-based” manufacturing based on actual customer demand. For instance, electronic Kanban solutions streamline production, which can drive down inventory costs up to 75 percent.At Ingersoll-Rand's Hussmann facility, a leading producer of commercial refrigerators, inventory was reduced by $13 million (U.S. dollars) and stock outs were reduced from two per week to zero through the implementation of an eKanban solution from Ultriva.”

How much of that benefit came from “lean” and how much came from “software?” That's always the tough thing to determine. Could they have gotten lean benefits without software?

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. I find this quote about ERP/MRP at Ingersoll-Rand’s Hussman facility to very interesting. I interviewed for the Operation Excellence Manager (Lean Leader) position for that facility about 3 weeks ago. They had partially built product stacked in every aisle and corner waiting for parts to come in from suppliers in order to finish building the product. In fact, the plant manager said it wasn’t one supplier, it was several suppliers they were waiting on parts from. They may have reduced their purchase part inventory (to the point of not having any), but not their overall inventory.


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