Increasing Productivity: A Winnable Challenge
Continually increasing productivity is always important—even more so in the tough economic times we continue to live in. The good news is that almost every team has the potential to do this. Before sharing ideas on how to improve productivity, let's first define it.
Productivity is a measure of how efficiently resources are being used. Productivity is simply a measure of outputs (goods/services produced) divided by inputs (resources used):
P = O (goods/services) ÷ I (resources)
Assume last month that it took 1,000 labor hours to produce 200,000 pages of specialized documents. What is the productivity measurement?
P = 200,000 mail pieces ÷ 1,000 labor hours
or 200 pages per labor hour
How to Improve Productivity
There are two basic approaches to improving a productivity measurement:
- Increase the volume of goods/services without increasing the amount of resources used.
- Produce the same volume of good/services, but accomplish it with fewer resources.
Some of the factors that have a bearing on productivity include:
1. Technology. The wise use of automation and more sophisticated software can help us complete our work with fewer labor hours. Just this month I have been able to reduce (redeploy to another department) an FTE on one of my teams due to new software that is more efficient than the existing software.
2. Capital (tools, equipment, etc). Having state-of-the-art equipment that fits your operations can open the door to significant reductions in manual effort and resources.
3. Methods. Learning and applying best practices, and pursuing process improvements can drive improved efficiency and productivity. You can learn better methods by attending conferences like MailCom and National Postal Forum, getting involved with professional organizations like the Mail Systems Management Association and Postal Customer Councils, and regularly reading trade journals like this one.
Related story: Justifying Resources: 10 Tips to Get What You Need
Wes Friesen is a proven leader and developer of high performing teams and has extensive experience in both the corporate and non-profit worlds. A former in-plant manager, he is also an award-winning university instructor and speaker, and is the president of Solomon Training and Development, which provides leadership, management and team building training. His book, Your Team Can Soar! contains 42 valuable lessons that will inspire you, and give you practical pointers to help you—and your team—soar to new heights of performance. Your Team Can Soar! can be ordered from Xulonpress.com/bookstore or wesfriesen.com. Wes can be contacted at email@example.com.