Thinking Lean in Knowledge Work: A Case Study of a Demand Planning Team
Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
This study examines processes within forecasting from a lean perspective. A case study of a demand planning team at a dairy product company was conducted to examine how processes related to forecasting can become more efficient by thinking lean. The organizational environment of the team is complex and operates as an illustrative case for analysing processes that take place in knowledge work. With this background, the purpose of this study is to understand in more detail how lean thinking can cope with the potential lack of clarity in knowledge work. Lean thinking used in this case study showed possible improvements in the work process. Data for this study were obtained through interviews, logging of activities, and comparisons between historical order data and predicted order demand. Mapping of the processes connected to forecasting was performed with special emphasis on demand planner activities and identified six areas where waste caused inefficient forecasting. Each of these were then analysed. Stakeholders were classified according to their needs with respect to different forecasting horizons. The analysis showed that finding a good balance between the two horizons given available resources was more important than devoting all resources to one horizon. Moreover, this insight lead to the conclusion that priorities within each horizon provided potentially greater dividend to stakeholders. Additionally, lean thinking was used to develop guidelines and tools to optimize forecasting on an operational level. Special focus was directed towards waste activities that cause inefficient forecasting. A set of four different actions were here developed. Lean thinking was beneficial in various aspects of the case study company and the knowledge work of the demand planning team. This was evident in that lean provided a structured approach for quantifying tacit nature work. Furthermore, strategic level lean thinking may enable successful operational contextual approaches. Principles of lean thinking could be utilized without major modifying interpretations from the production context. Eliminating non-value adding activities in processes does, however, require an approach that does not get lost in details and see the whole picture.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 73 p.
Lean thinking, knowledge work, forecasting
Economics and Business
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-154565OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-154565DiVA: diva2:757769
Ekman Rising, Marianne