Lean Design Management—a New Paradigm for Managing the Design and Documentation Process to Improve Quality?

Paul A. Tilley1

1Research Fellow, Salford Centre for Research and Innovation in the Built & Human Environment, Bridgewater Building, University of Salford, Salford M7 1NU, United Kingdom, Phone +44 161 295 4143, Fax +44 161 295 4587, P.A.Tilley@salford.ac.uk


Poor design and documentation quality has been identified as being a major factor in reducing the overall performance and efficiency of construction projects as well as being directly responsible for many projects running over budget, over time and being plagued with rework, variations and disputa- tion. Recent studies show that this problem is not only widespread, but continues to get worse in spite of the negative impact it’s having on the construction industry. In a similar way, project management deficiencies have also been shown to have a negative impact on construction process efficiency. However, by adapting Lean Production principles and viewing construction in terms of “production” as opposed to “transformation”, the concept of Lean Construction has been promoted as being successful in improving overall construction process efficiency, by improving the management of construction project operations. Whilst recent studies into design and documentation quality problems have focused on a variety of external factors (ie. design fees, design time, procurement methodology, ICT, etc.), as being the key to improving overall quality, this paper investigates whether the way in which the design process is managed, may provide more immediate and easily measurable results. Lean Design Management (LDM)—the introduction of “lean production” principles to the process of design—has been promoted as a new paradigm by which the design process can be made more efficient and better quality outcomes achieved. As part of an ongoing study into “theory-based lean project and production management”, this paper reviews the LDM approach to determine how new it really is and whether its implementation has the potential to achieve the design and documentation quality improvements required.


Lean Design Management, Design and Documentation Quality



Tilley, P.A. 2005, 'Lean Design Management—a New Paradigm for Managing the Design and Documentation Process to Improve Quality?' In:, 13th Annual Conference of the International Group for Lean Construction. Sydney, Australia, 19-21 Jul 2005. pp 283-295

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