Retail : Lean Office

Implementation of a “Lean Office” approach to improve the management of admistrative tasks (2000 people concerned)
Case study

Context and challenges

This leading retailer was seeking to improve the management of its administrative tasks (more than 2,000 people concerned) by launching a Lean initiative. As part of a Lean type continuous progress initiative, the customer intended to analyze the tasks with real added value in order to apply best practices to all its sites.
The scope of the pilot covered the “Administrative Assistant” job position on six logistics sites in the West region of France.

The assignment covered the following themes :

  • Miscellaneous secretarial tasks :
    • Phone calls, call forwarding
    • Photocopies
    • Archiving
  • Time management :
    • Checks of clocking in-out, anomaly management
    • Averaging of public holidays
    • Weekly checks of working hours
  • Management of temporary staff :
    • Management of contracts and invoices
    • Tracking of grades, coefficients and availability
  • Scorecards / reporting :
    • Weekly/monthly reporting
    • Drawing up the annual budget
  • Safety / health / environment / training :
    • Declaration and tracking of sick leave
    • Summons to regulatory medical checks
    • Etc
  • Other :
    • Meeting reports
    • Risk prevention plan

Approach and methodology

The assignment included three phases :

  • Understanding the existing situation and qualification of the various administrative practices:
    • Understanding of the standard administrative functions (job descriptions)
    • Detailed observations on each site
    • Summary and validation of existing tasks and practices
  • Detailed analysis of differences in workload :
    • Analysis of workload and organizational interfaces
    • Analysis of added value / non-added value
    • Summary of paths of improvement and assessment of the issues associated with arbitration between actions a Drawing up of the possible scenario for each site on a participative basis
  • Recommendations and implementation plans

The goal was to agree on the diagnostic and an action plan with the operational teams. As a consequence, the approach was both factual and participative.


The diagnostic revealed more than 20 paths of improvement, in six main categories :

  • Benchmark
  • Automation
  • Outsourcing
  • Centralization
  • Internal transfer of tasks
  • Discontinuation of tasks