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How to Reduce Waste In Your Lean Recruitment Project? – Project Management Series

Lean project management is all about reducing wasteful activities and making the whole process more efficient. And that’s what I love about it! Especially in recruitment, a very process-heavy industry, adopting a project management style like Lean can make your project more streamlined and effective. 

Lean is all about creating value and if you consistently put the stakeholder first (be it hiring manager or candidate), you will improve the recruitment experience as well as reduce time spent on making a hire.

If you’re unfamiliar with Lean, or just want a refresher – follow on below for a quick explanation, and how to eliminate the 7 wastes in your recruitment process.

What is Lean Project Management?

Lean was first seen in the 1980s, primarily in manufacturing. The aim of Lean is to increase the value and efficiency by reducing waste. Lean principles are mostly used in the supply chain, healthcare and manufacturing. However, they can also be applied outside of these industries.

In my opinion, the most important aspect of Lean project management is the focus on reducing wasteful activities. Waste, or Muda as it’s called, impacts any project as it’s often time and energy spent on unnecessary tasks.  

Advantages & disadvantages of the Lean project management style

Some of the advantages of Lean are an increase in efficiency and a decrease in unnecessary time and energy. Furthermore, in Lean, the focus is on improving the value to the customer. 

However, Lean does have some shortcomings. It’s time-consuming to identify, adjust and control the process and make it streamlined. It’s also all about quality improvement so this does mean it’s more costly and a sense of innovation and creativity might be lost.

The 7 Types of Wastes in Lean Recruitment Projects 

In Lean project management, there are 7 types of waste. Waste, in this case, is any activity which does not add immediate value to the project.

Now, something to bear in mind is that you will never get to a completely waste-free project. There are some necessary wasteful activities which might not have a direct use but do make sure the final product or service is of high quality. An example of this is testing an iteration of the product. The actual testing doesn’t add immediate value to the client. However, it does make sure bugs are identified and the final product delivered works well.

These 7 wastes can be seen in all different types of projects and industries, but in this article, I’ll give you some pointers on how to identify – and get rid of them within recruitment:

7 wastes in Lean project management style

Waste #1: Motion 

This is any unnecessary movement of people or parts. In a recruitment pipeline, this could be holding multiple intake meetings with the hiring manager before starting to draft the vacancy.

My suggestion is to be aware of the purpose of each step. What extra information will 3 intake meetings give you? Rather pay attention to getting the most important and key information in the first meeting and if you miss anything, you can always have a second chat.

Waste #2: Inventory 

This waste is about excess production of something which doesn’t add value at the end. A simple example is continuously sourcing new candidates for a role without moving them through the pipeline or checking to see if they meet the requirements.

Instead, focus on sourcing smaller batches of candidates. While having 200 candidates in the sourced stage may sound great, if most of those candidates never get reached out to or pushed along the funnel, then that’s a lot of time and effort wasted.

Waste #3: Waiting 

This waste is quite self-explanatory; waiting for people to respond, waiting on others or waiting for something to be finished first. Imagine, your hiring manager has just done an interview with your number 1 candidate and you’re expecting his evaluation. You give it an hour, then it becomes a day, and all of a sudden you’re waiting for a week and the candidate has dropped out!

Rather than just waiting for your hiring manager to follow up with you, take control of the situation and call him. Or agree beforehand when he will send you the evaluation.

Waste #4: Defects 

 A defect is an imperfect product or service. In the recruitment space, this could be a poorly written vacancy – where there are a lot of spelling errors and maybe key information missing. Another example of this is incorrectly scheduling an interview for a candidate.

This waste is hard to eliminate because my suggestion would be to double-check things or ask for someone else to check it first. And by including more steps in the process, it becomes even less efficient. However, try setting up templates for email communication. Also, you can use a scheduling tool to ensure interviews are scheduled well. 

Waste #5: Overproduction

This waste is when you make more of the product than is actually needed. It could be presenting 5 fantastic candidates to the hiring manager in the final stage, when they only wanted 3.

Focus on meeting the needs and wishes of the client first rather than over-delivering. By not overproducing work, you’ll find some of the other wastes identified will also be eliminated.

Waste #6: Transportation 

These are the unnecessary movements in a project. A great example in recruitment is a very long interviewing stage. For example, a candidate might first do a phone screen with the recruiter, then need to have an introductory coffee with the hiring manager, go into first and second-round interviews, also do a technical test and then a final assessment with the CEO. That’s a lot of stages!

Instead, emphasise what you will get out of these stages. By highlighting what will be achieved in each interview stage, you will be able to assess whether all of them are necessary or if some can be combined or even eliminated.

Waste #7: Over-processing 

This is basically when more work is done than is asked for. This can be seen in multiple points in the recruitment process. However, one I haven’t touched on before is the offer stage. Rather than just extending an offer simply to the candidate, imagine you have called the candidate. After that, you sent them an email and intro document explaining all the benefits in full detail, as well as created a video from the team convincing them why they should accept.

Maybe just keep it simple. Focus on the things you know the candidate finds important and try not to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Despite the downsides of using Lean, by having the 7 wastes in the back of your mind, you will put your attention on doing things which are important for the project. As I mentioned earlier, not all waste can be cut out of a project – and that’s ok. Rather focus on making your process as simple and efficient as possible. Remember – delivering results should be the ultimate goal. 

By Teri Gibson – Head of Client Operations

Do you want to read more about other project management styles within recruitment? Here’s how to implement Lean project management in recruitment and best practices for Waterfall recruitment projects.

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