Increasing productivity is about doing more with the same resource. It is actually a very one-sided improvement, as you can only change one part of the equation. Technological advances can increase productivity in some industries as processes can be digitised. However, in others, like construction, education and health, accommodation and restaurants, and business services, productivity increase is limited as those are labour heavy.
Still, you can improve. The important part is to identify which activities can be optimised and what advantages these optimisations will bring while avoiding tying up capital and risking potential chaos in processes and low-quality deliveries.
So, focus your efforts on optimising activities and tasks that are transactional and take away a lot of employees’ time. Those are usually non-core activities.
In services, a way to increase productivity is to improve data management and reporting:
Use tools like Zapier, Blueprism, and Uipath. For more complex process flows and mining, check Celonis. These solutions are relatively straightforward to implement. Ideally, select one pilot area where you will quickly see results (for example, data download for reporting). These tools can help you streamline your business, digitalise, significantly increase productivity and decrease cycle times.
In manufacturing, productivity has increased by manifolds substituting manual operations with CNC machines and barcodes. Still, there is room for improvement:
As a manufacturing company, you are probably already using stock replenishment and demand management programs, which range from complex ones like SAP to Netsuite or Anaplan. But if you are a smaller business, you can increase your productivity and efficiency with integrated apps on Shopify for inventory management and order shipping.
Kanban inventory management is the best pull system and can be manual, electronic or a combination of both.
Increasing productivity in the entire business process is tricky, often even impossible. And you can get the best ROIs and quick wins if you focus on improving your non-core process – the gaps between systems, the silo way of working and non-core processes.
To finish, here is a list of everyday tasks and simple processes where I look to increase productivity, either by digitalisation or the application of lean tools when I carry out transformational business projects: