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A guide to Lean Project Management for students at MBA school

October 05, 2017

Here's what students need to know about this important concept

Project management, and business more generally, makes the reduction of waste and the efficient completion of tasks key goals to be pursued and fulfilled. Application of specific methodologies designed to maximize output and limit the amount of wasted time and resources can be an effective way of progressing toward this goal, and is something that many businesses engage in today.

The Lean Project Management methodology is one example that professionals may find interesting and valuable to apply in the project management space, and one which draws upon skills learned at good MBA schools.

Here's a guide to how this approach to project management works.

A group discussion

As a first step, Lean Project Management requires that you understand your product's value

The very first step of Lean Project Management is to take time to understand how much value a customer will assign to the product that is in development. This is one of the most important factors to consider when setting a price point when you start selling - sometimes even more important than the actual cost of development and manufacturing.

For example, new video game consoles are often sold at a loss, because consumers are unlikely to perceive them to be as valuable as they cost to develop and manufacture. Once the sales are made, the companies can then attempt to recoup the losses through ongoing software or subscription sales.

The process of researching and making conclusions about perceived value is one that benefits greatly from the skills you can develop in a Professional MBA program. Enrolling in a course at a top university gives you access to advanced training in concepts relating to forecasting and controlling, which are tremendous assets to any professional looking to implement Lean Project Management, or just get a more accurate picture of how their work will be perceived by customers.

MBA school graduates need to eliminate waste to implement Lean

Lean Project Management is all about trimming the fat. Reduction of waste is focused on throughout all stages of the process, and is key to the Lean mission of keeping costs down, products uncomplicated, and the production process well-synchronized and efficient.

Lean prescribes a couple of main steps to address this issue of wastefulness. For one, it is important that every stage in the process of creating and delivering a product be noted, evaluated, and optimized where possible. Is excess work being done to achieve an outcome? Could synchronization between stages be improved to cut down on wasted time or resources?

For another, it is important to allow the customer to play an important role in dictating the ways in which a product or project develop. A minimum viable product should be established as a baseline - a basic offering of what customers absolutely need - and additions or refinements should be completed according to feedback from customers. This helps ensure less wasted development time on features or additions that customers don't want or won't use.

People looking at graphs on a tablet
Developing only those features customers need can help with waste reduction

Today, collecting and analyzing objective data presents the best way forward for most companies looking to improve their efficiency and ability to meet customer demand. This makes it imperative for ambitious executives to choose an MBA program offering instruction in this key area. A school like WU Executive Academy will allow you to receive this sort of training from leading academics and businesspeople, and help you begin a transition to better project management that puts numbers at the heart of decision-making.

Expect Lean Project Management to be a process of continuous improvement after MBA school

No process is perfect, and while good enough can work for some executives and teams, the more ambitious will make the goal of greater efficiency in projects - and overall productivity - an ongoing mission of continuous improvement. Constant refinement, investment in new tools, hiring of new talent, and other steps toward becoming more efficient are all important to professionals operating according to Lean Project Management principles.

You can rely on the management skills learned throughout MBA school to make gradual, but significant, improvements throughout the development of a project, or in the larger context of the business where you work. Being able to skillfully put together great teams, manage new technology resources, and perform important functions in managing groups of employees can help you make great strides toward leaner projects and the greater profit they can offer.

A man explains something
Management skills learned at business school can encourage ongoing improvement

Are you looking to improve your performance and the performance at your workplace?


Contact WU Executive Academy to learn more about our MBA in Project Management!

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