Efficiency is about getting more out of the same. Productivity is about getting more. It’s about growth as much as it is about voiding waste.
The greatest challenge post COVID-19 will be that we don’t know what the future holds. We know that there will be a long transition period before things settle down to the new normal.
These are our top tips to project managers who want to increase productivity in uncertain times.
Growth is the goal – Although the economy will be difficult for the foreseeable future there will always be opportunity for growth. It is important to increase productivity and sell more. The 1980’s were difficult economically, but saw the introduction and establishment of personal computers that we couldn’t imagine operating without them. Silicon valley was also established. The 80’s saw the birth of more Fortune 500 companies than any decade before. Whatever sector you work in, chances are that there has been a shift in customer behavior that created an opportunity for you or your clients.
Project management is more than managing the plan and checking off the milestones. It’s about scanning the environment for potential changes that could impact plan delivery. This is the time to look up and see the opportunities that COVID-19 offers.
Think of the impossible- Businesses have had to adapt to the virus and its effects. Many industries are now looking for new supply chain solutions, fulfillment options, and routes to market. Businesses have made unprecedented changes in record time, making changes that were impossible in the past.
What are some radical changes you can make to improve your business?
COVID-19 has created a wave of innovation by provoking some of the most innovative problem solving of our generation. We will reach a point when the virus will no longer be as significant. The organisations that have the most success will be those that keep the innovative thinking that was created by necessity.
Identify and eliminate waste – The other aspect of productivity is the elimination of all waste from processes, no matter if they are old methods of working or new activities that result from a project implementation.
Time and motion workstudy is a cumbersome and outdated tool that you can use to improve your business. Modern workstudy employs a variety of techniques to generate insights that help identify and quantify opportunities to improve efficiency. This allows for prioritisation and resource trading.
It is crucial to measure before and after processes in order to confirm the business case upside as well as quantify any tweaks or improvements that could be made. One UK coffee shop chain wanted to redesign their counter layout. They measured the time it took to prepare their coffee and food at three different counter mockups to help them make a decision based on solid evidence.
Implementing new technology can lead to problems in systems implementations. We’ve seen an automated coffee bean grinder introduced by a different coffee shop chain.
Workstudy revealed that colleagues were watching the grinder while their colleagues used the time. It was not surprising that the time savings expected wasn’t realized until new ways were implemented. This highlights the importance of managing the behavioral change necessary for implementation.
We have seen in many studies that there is significant variation in the time it takes to complete a process from one site to another due to poor process compliance. We observed that incoming goods were handled differently at each location, despite having clearly defined operating procedures.