Yes…Productivity Can Be Increased

September 19, 2017

Increasing productivity in a small business or SME is not about having engineers or design consultants flood into a business with expensive, hard to implement ideas and changes. Increasing productivity in a small business or SME is taking a simple, methodical approach in making changes to everyday systems affecting a business. Multiple small improvements have a synergistic effect that can greatly improve productivity and, ultimately, net profit.

When the word “productivity” is used, many associate the word strictly with automated processes. While this can certainly be the case, productivity involves more than automated processes of people and machinery. 

Try these techniques to increase productivity:

Streamline meetings – All businesses have meetings. They are a necessity to communicate, gain consensus, generate new ideas, etc. Meetings, however, can waste time and be counter-productive if not conducted properly. To make a least favorite work routine (at times) into a more productive and efficient use of everyone’s time, do the following:

•    Plan ahead and stay on schedule
•    Keep meetings as short as possible
•    Make notes for future research and follow-up
•    Thoroughly cover scheduled topics
•    Be clear and concise
•    Assign responsibilities for future tasks
•    Ask questions
•    Listen

Invest in hardware and software – Although the cost of new computers, scanners, printers, and software might seem expensive at the time of purchase, determine the useful life, mentally amortize the annual cost, and then make an analysis of the cost versus the benefit. Since most small businesses and SMEs have a limited number of employees already utilized at full capacity, benefits derived from current technology can have enormous gains. Review all the various tasks in your business to determine what can benefit from technology.

Ask and listen – Rather than guessing what customers might want (wasting time and being ineffective), simply ask customers what they want. Vendors can also be a valuable source of information. Assumptions can then be replaced with factual information derived straight from the source. Listening to customer concerns and desires allows a small business to provide products and services wanted by the ultimate purchaser. Asking questions (and listening) with an open mind can provide ideas on how to better serve customers, thus hitting the target market. Hitting the target market, of course, increases productivity.

Develop energetic employees – Some employees are automatically energetic and motivated just by their very nature. Others, however, need dynamic leaders for motivation. When an entire workforce is motivated and thriving, increased productivity is a natural byproduct. As a small business owner or manager:

•    Lead by example
•    Set realistic goals
•    Communicate with employees
•    Hire and mentor employees who can accept greater responsibilities
•    Stay focused on the business mission

Processes and procedures – It almost goes without saying that periodically all processes and procedures within a business should be reviewed with one goal in mind…increase accuracy and productivity. Without reviews, however, a small business owner or manager has no idea what might be changed that could lead to improved performance. Just one small change today or next week is better than no change at all.

Constant awareness – One key to increased productivity is simple awareness and necessary action. Constant probing and questioning of why something is done one way rather than another way can have a positive impact on a small business or SME with little cost involved but only effort. When the status quo remains the status quo, there is little forward movement.