1. Overproduction

Used traditionally to refer to waste created by push manufacturing, this category covers surplus production and large inventories. Overproduction in software projects also refers to creating a product before establishing the demand for it. Overproduction may also refer to the mistake of providing functions, features, or services that the customer is not willing to pay for, which means that some of the work done on the project is unnecessary or redundant.

2. Waiting

This term traditionally referred to the time between a product being ready to move to the next stage in a production cycle and the product actually being moved to the next stage. In manufacturing, waiting occurs because of bottlenecked processes; in soft project management you can extend that definition to include the time that information required to proceed to the next stage is unavailable.

3. Transportation

This refers to the cost incurred and time spent physically moving a product from one place to another, especially as it is being produced. The potential costs of transportation extend beyond the time and money expended in the transportation itself, as transportation also raises the risks of damaging products. Inefficiency increases when production processes require goods to unnecessarily travel more around factories. Transportation waste is less of a problem in service projects, where communication is mostly digital and instantaneous. But inefficient paper trails and communication failures such as power outages or IT downtime are still problematic.

4. Over-processing

In manufacturing, over-processing refers to doing work that is not needed. This could be painting areas that won’t be seen or tolerances that are tighter than required. This imposes costs related to labor, materials, and equipment wear. In service projects, over-processing takes the form of convoluted, redundant hierarchies and levels of approval, as well as the software development scenario of creating more iterations of a software product than actually needed to realize the value of the product.

5. Inventory

In manufacturing, a push approach may result in excess inventory, which raises transportation-related waste and can consume usable space. Inventory can also prevent the identification of problems with the workflow. For service projects, inventory costs tend to be mitigated, but the excessive stockpiling of information and difficulty in retrieving information when needed are analogous.

6. Motion

Motion-related wastes occur – in manufacturing, hard projects, and soft projects – when workers have to move too much to perform their tasks economically. Again, this is less of a problem with knowledge work, when you can quickly pull the required digital resources. Non-digital resources, however, can constitute a substantial proportion of resources used even in soft projects, and inaccessibility causes wasted motion.

7. Defects

The problem of defects is similar for all types of work, and entails reworking and using more resources than should have been necessary. The difference lies in how defects originate. In manufacturing, defects are typically caused by faulty equipment or operator errors, while in knowledge work they stem from poor design or from inaccurate estimation.

8. Underutilized Skills (Lean Six Sigma methodology)

The Lean Six Sigma methodology also refers to and eighth waste: underutilized skills or brainpower. This type of waste is primarily associated with knowledge work and refers to the waste that occurs when not tapping into a worker’s full mental potential. This can occur when companies hire overqualified employees or place workers in positions where they can’t fully exercise their abilities.

SOURCE: smartsheet