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Assess Last Year's Productivity to Set a Path to Next Year's Success
Congratulations! You’ve made it through the year with your business! Was it as productive a year as you had planned and hoped? Now is an appropriate time to look back at the successes over the last twelve months and take a bow. It is likewise an opportune time to assess those things that may have fallen short of the mark over the same period of time. Taking stock of both the good and the bad of your productivity processes, implementations and strategies will help you to adjust course to ensure an even higher degree of success in the year(s) ahead.
Productivity at its core is about getting the best result possible from the least amount of effort. You don’t need to do a Six Sigma analysis to assess productivity; even a more casual approach will provide some enlightening intel you can utilize. Take a hard look at the areas in which your company is most productive and you’ll have found the keys to improving productivity across the board.
The many faces of productivity
How does your business measure productivity? Before you can determine the success of your business’ productivity, you’ll have to figure out what to measure. Some criteria you could look at include:
Time - Increased productivity where time is involved could manifest as a decrease in the number of man hours necessary to perform certain tasks. Obviously, when tasks take less time to perform, more work can be accomplished, and by less people. Consider processes, policies and enhancements that have helped work get done faster. Was it because the employees doing the work are more experienced? Have excess steps or red tape been removed from the workflow?
Production - Improved production is indicated when the output of work or manufacturing is increased. Productivity in this area could be due to such things as automation, streamlining of processes, specialized worker training or an increase in the number of employees to name a few. Increased production could also be due to your prudent upgrading of existing, or acquisition of additional, equipment.
Turnaround - This metric refers to the span of time/amount of work between the beginning of a project and its completion. The smoother the processes involved, the quicker the turnaround. Fast turnaround indicates internal efficiency and impresses customers. Did your company serve customers and crank out products more efficiently this year? Turnaround can be influenced by such factors as improved organization and streamlined systems.
Gross compared to net income - Productivity, where it concerns money, would be evident when comparing your expenses against your actual income. A productive business would show that expenses were responsibly allocated to that which benefited the company’s operation. It’s not so much that you invested assets in your business but how prudently the money was spent on equipment, education, automation and the like. The goal here would be to find a “sweet spot” that indicates a level of expenditure that results in the greatest impact upon productivity.
Employee turnover - It’s a lot of work to hire new employees. Doing so involves time to train them and for them to get up to speed, which slows productivity. That’s why it’s important to do all you can to promote a stable, experienced workforce who have hit their stride and can continue along an uninterrupted path toward greater productivity.
Sales funnel - A sales funnel is an enlightening way to envision your company’s transactions and/or projects. Ideally, there’s a straight, smooth line between advertising and completed transaction. Any place where the funnel “clogs” is a potential area for improvement. Perhaps your business has alleviated several of those clogs with improvements to processes or customer relations to increase sales, becoming a more productive company.
Once you decide what it is you’re measuring, you can examine how your business fared throughout the year. Regardless of the metrics you choose to assess, there’s sure to be a tool available to quantify and compare it to previous data. Recognize where your productivity improved and analyze the probable contributing factors. Had you altered or improved your processes to positive result? Clearly, you were on the right track with those implementations. Now, take a look at the areas where your productivity slumped. What strategies can you borrow from your “Win” column that could help increase productivity in these areas?
Every company has different strong points and weaknesses. Allowing your past to inform your present and future is a wise way to move forward along the path to greater productivity that your unique business travels best.
Where can last year’s productivity successes help your business as you begin a new year?
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