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There are many challenges in trying to increase productivity within a function, process or in a business team. Measurements of productivity generally look at the efficiency of a task. The working assumption: if companies focus on making activities more efficient, they will increase productivity but rarely has history been kind to this belief!!

So, what enables the ability for teams to break out of their current way of doing business and reassemble the constituent pieces for more effective, more productive results? There are many approaches but no magic bullet. By underpinning all and any of these approaches, a company must capture metrics that support the business case.

Measuring productivity

Productivity is an inherently complicated beast. It never depends on just one thing. Productivity is the sum of each and every component – variously the technology, people, training, organisational structure, decision rights and many other factors.

Many different technologies, techniques and organisational constraints affect whether a company can fully release productivity.

In successful projects, companies typically tackle just one or two components and make any necessary adjustments. Then use the breakthrough metrics to observe the impact of those changes. It is an iterative approach. For example, did the changes improve the time it takes to deliver a customer experience? Did the changes improve effectiveness of the sales channel Did the changes improve the company’s ability to anticipate a customer’s needs?

Companies need to measure productivity metrics and review the results with the team delivering the service and monitor progress. Meticulously and methodically measuring the activities and changes as to their success against the breakthrough metrics helps build momentum toward progress in achieving the objectives.

Measuring productivity can be tricky. The metrics need to measure some combination of whether the activity accomplishes alignment with the business, the speed of the service, the error rate and the cost to serve. Companies often make the mistake of breaking these points down into sub-metrics; but in doing so, frequently are unable to see the wood for the trees. One of the important underpinning success factors is a robust, and to the fullest extent possible, automated process for collecting, safely storing and analysing the data.

Change management

Almost all employees want to be more productive. It creates a much better work environment, and individual satisfaction comes from helping on the productivity journey. But it is difficult to get organisations to go on a productivity improvement journey. One frequent block is because of change in management issues.

There is no one formula that allows a company to succeed. But there are consistent technologies, techniques and constraints that a company can utilise, which will allow a company to improve its productivity.

Companies can improve productivity by orders of magnitude if they use breakthrough metrics and set up a disciplined and consistent journey. The journey must measure real accomplishment in achieving the goal. This helps build commitment to success and commitment to support the change necessary to unleash the desired productivity.

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