What Makes SOFP a Lean Process? – SOFP Series Blog #2

In my first blog I described the reasons for SOFP and why it is important. Before we get into the details of how SOFP works, I want to look at why SOFP is a specifically lean approach. SOFP is often contrasted with the traditional MRPII/ERP planning. While there are some similarities, SOFP has been developed from a wholly lean viewpoint.

What Makes SOFP a Lean Process? – SOFP Series Blog #2

We will look at SOFP at three levels; Lean Methods, Respect for People, and Lean Culture. Many of the methods used in SOFP reflect basic lean thinking and are based on the lean principles of Customer Value, Value Streams, Flow, Pull, Respect for People, and the Pursuit of Perfection. You will see these principles throughout SOFP.


Unlike traditional production planning and master scheduling, SOFP is not done by a planner or planning department. It is done by people working in every aspect of the value stream. This approach leads to better decisions, better communication, faster & more effective processes, and empowerment of the value stream people.

SOFP is also an integral part of the move towards a lean culture. A Lean Management System (LMS) requires the Plan-Do-Check-Act at every level and SOFP is the operational planning of LMS.Lean senior leadership uses all aspects of the LMS to mentor their employees and grow the capabilities of their team. The empowered SOFP team is mentored throughout the process, but primarily through the Executive SOFP Meeting that is the final step of the process.The LMS and mentoring (instead of management) goes a long way to creating the all important lean culture.