With the current global financial crisis, the uncertain economic outlook in South Africa and the pressure on financial institutions to operate more effectively and efficiently, there has been a significant shift in focus for banks in South Africa. This shift in focus entails placing greater emphasis on stream-lining internal operations, an increased focus on customer needs, and a superior service delivery in relation to competitors, in order to retain their existing customer base as well as to increase market share. Many organisations have adopted lean manufacturing as their approach to process optimisation and quality management, in an effort to improve their efficiency and value offering for customers. The objective of this research was to identify a financial institution in South Africa that has already adopted the lean approach, and to focus on the physical implementation of their lean projects so as to understand what the success factors are in this regard. This paper presents a detailed literature review, highlighting key success factors for the implementation of lean. The research questions are based on these factors. The report presents findings from 20 face-to-face interviews with subjects involved in the physical implementation of lean projects in the bank selected for the analysis. The paper reveals that the top five success factors for the successful implementation of lean projects are commitment and involvement from senior management; buy-in from staff that are being effected by the project; resources with the relevant and appropriate skills and competencies to execute the change, a culture focused on lean; and finally, for all parties involved to have a clear shared goal and understanding of what the project aims to deliver.