Every business is striving to utilize capital in the most productive manner possible. Improving business productivity is often the way of achieving this. Take human capital for example — employees are productive for only 2 hours and 23 minutes at work every day on average. So, only improving that segment alone would make a huge difference!
There are disciplines and consulting companies dedicated to improving business productivity by focusing on complex processes. But there are much simpler, often overlooked ways to improve business productivity. This article will discuss five simple ways through which you can boost the productivity of your business.
The ‘Keep It Simple’ of Business Productivity
The common acronym KISS stands for ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’. It has its origins in the United States Navy but finds application in almost every field. The KISS principle also holds true for improving business productivity. There is a false equivalence of being better with the increase in complexity. But complexity makes systems vulnerable and prone to falling apart.
One of the basic elements to improving, or at least maintaining, business productivity is that systems should not fall apart easily. Keeping business processes simple and accessible is an easy way to improve business productivity. A common cumbersome business process is the approval process. Employees have to spend a lot of time and go through many intermediaries to get various approvals. Making the approval process simple, straightforward, and without intermediaries will increase employees’ productive work time.
Another such improvement would be building maintenance. Automating your maintenance would reduce mundane and repetitive tasks. There are multiple other wasteful and redundant processes. Identifying and simplifying such processes should be your top priority. Surveying your employees is the easiest way to identify these gaps. Making systems and processes simpler is the low-hanging fruit on the path to business productivity improvement.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine, found that typical employees are interrupted every three minutes and five seconds. It takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to where they left off. This is the scale of distractions at work. A distracted office worker will hamper business productivity. But a distracted worker on the plant floor could harm other employees and destroy equipment. It is extremely important to reduce distractions to improve safety and business productivity.
Distractions to employees are just one aspect affecting business productivity. Another common distraction is management undertaking projects that do not align with existing business. Many new projects taken up by management are distractions from the core business. So, being prudent about deciding on the next project can improve business productivity.
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)
Businesses have many recurring procedures. Because they are performed by different operators, there can be variability in the outcome. So, by standardizing those operations and procedures, we can assume the outcomes will also be up to standard.
Standard operating procedures, or SOPs, are a powerful tool of achieving process standardization. SOPs help to codify and enforce how tasks have to be performed in plant operations. The operators will not have any ambiguity regarding how various tasks are performed. SOPs help to standardize enterprise asset management as well.
Introducing SOPs significantly improves business productivity, but it’s rather difficult to enforce them. There are various reasons why field operators might not adhere to them. Human factor is the most common issue — with its limits in memory and attention. Another reason is environmental conditions. Because of this, you can consider introducing checklists to enforce SOPs.
Checklists use numerated steps done in sequence and ensure that every operator adheres to the SOPs in the intended way. Only after the previous step is completed can operators move on to the next. This ensures that operators follow every step in the right order. If managed from a cloud infrastructure, operators can access checklists from anywhere and on any device.
Maintenance activity is critical to business operations. It ensures that machines and equipment are working in the most productive and optimal way. Not maintaining your assets can lead to unscheduled downtime. This immensely hampers business productivity. Businesses often give importance to process automation, thus neglecting maintenance automation.
Automating maintenance activities boosts business productivity in the same fashion process automation does. Automation alleviates responsibility from maintenance workers and managers. The responsibility falls with algorithms that work flawlessly. Enterprises often use computerized management system (CMMS) to automate maintenance activities. This brings significant improvements in overall business productivity, avoiding unscheduled downtime and ensuring ideal machine conditions.
Advantages Coming With Improving Business Productivity
Business productivity improvements help to remain relevant in the competitive landscape. But, most common steps are often obvious and commonplace. Therefore, businesses need to gain an edge by implementing little-known methods for improving business productivity. Such measures are often simpler to implement and are often overlooked by competitors.
All the methods mentioned above are about simplifying processes. SOPs, checklists, and maintenance automation help to make processes more efficient. Reducing distractions for employees and management is also about making procedures simpler. Boiling everything down, all the steps to improve business productivity can be done by trying to stick with the KISS principle.