8 Tips To Measure Productivity and Increase Efficiency
In response to a global shift to data-driven decision making, organizations are constantly looking for ways to measure productivity, but many leaders feel like they’re in unfamiliar waters.
It’s all too easy to set up fancy performance analytics and feel good that you’re doing something to measure it. But all too often, this approach results in a great deal of talking about numbers and not a lot of actionable steps for improvement.With our eight tips, we won’t just discuss how to gather data. Instead, we’ll help you identify the cause of a drop in productivity, and show you how to use a blend of strategy and technology to increase efficiency.
Before we get started on our tips, we need to first answer a question that may seem easy on the surface. Productivity relates to the efficiency with which an individual or team completes a task. Most companies compare their output (products or services) against their input (costs, wages, labor, energy, resources etc.)
Productivity is not the same as speed. Take the example of Concorde. It took people across the Atlantic incredibly quickly, but the costs were so prohibitive that nobody could ever have described the effort as productive.
Instead, productivity can be summed up as output units divided by input units. With this in mind, it follows that you can increase efficiency either by increasing output units, decreasing input units or both.
When we think about ways to measure productivity, it’s easy to get into the nitty gritty of data-driven analysis and detailed reports. But we’re not robots and there’s still something to be said for face-to-face updates, often in the setting of a stand-up meeting.
Stand-ups certainly aren’t the best way to gather data to send to your superiors. However, they are great for offering support and helping to increase efficiency by removing roadblocks. One of the key advantages of a stand up meeting is that managers hear about issues straight away, rather than letting them snowball all the way to next quarter’s appraisal. This reduces the input time and effort, leading to increased productivity.
There’s nothing technical or scientific behind this strategy. You simply gather your team together for five to ten minutes every morning and everybody offers an update. Remote teams can use video calls to the same effect. Each team member goes over the stage they’re at on a project and flags any setbacks or successes they’ve experienced.
At the end of every stand-up, managers can take action, whether it is helping a designer get that vital meeting they need or adding extra tasks and responsibility for the software engineer who has finished all their tasks. Although stand-ups don’t give a numerical indication of progress, they can work alongside more stringent assessment and are invaluable in building relationships with your team that turns into efficiency.
For any team to work at its most productive, detailed project management software is essential. With instructions, responsible people and deadlines stored within the same tool, you can draw out a lot of valuable information to measure productivity. Use automations to receive notifications when tasks are approaching their deadlines and you’ll waste no time on analyzing every task one by one.
By setting a deadline, you give every task a time limit, and if your team member finishes their tasks on time — great! If you find they finish them with a lot of time to spare, you can increase their workload with an incentive of extra responsibility as motivation. When you find workers continuously missing deadlines, you can call a one-on-one and discover the root cause of the lack of productivity.
Of course, it’s easy to overload one worker while leaving another with a lot of free time. It would be unfair to judge them both on the same productivity metrics, which is why we’d recommend using Gantt charts. As you know how long each task should take, you can visualize a day’s work easily using a Gantt chart and spot when one person has too much work or there are large gaps in another’s calendar.
When it comes to recording the exact time taken on each task, we’re opening the lid on more scientific productivity measurements. There are plenty of time tracking tools out there and they’re simple to use. Click a button when you start, click it when you end, and like a stopwatch, you get the exact time your task took.
You may already have guessed what kind of work time tracking is best for — repetitive tasks. Whether it’s dealing with customer calls or closing a sales deal, anything that you can time is ripe for measuring. There is a two-pronged benefit to time tracking. Firstly, you know how long a task should take, so you can legitimately pull up an employee if they’re lagging behind. Secondly, you can structure your team’s day to leave less idle time throughout the day.
However, don’t fall into the trap of focusing so much on the time aspect that you overlook your company’s main objectives. For example, if you squeeze customer calls down to an average of 30 seconds but rarely resolve an issue, you’re missing some key productivity metrics.
One of the more cutting-edge tips to measure productivity is to replace the idea of output with outcomes. The tried-and-tested formula is a reliable way of getting numbers, but it can take away from the KPIs of your business.
It is a subtle difference but an important one for encouraging creativity and innovation. For example, setting the target of writing ten blog posts per month is reasonable in terms of productivity, but what is the overall goal? With an outcome-based perspective, you could change the target to improve web traffic by ten percent.
This way, your marketing team can work together to reach a target that makes a difference. They could A/B test the SEO strategy on the same article, or optimize a social media strategy to meet your site traffic KPI. The team therefore reflects more on the bigger picture, rather than hitting simple targets and sitting back.
When you instill an outcome mentality across your team, it spreads a sense of responsibility about each and every task. Rather than focusing on meeting deadlines, everybody takes ownership of their work and learns how to measure productivity in terms of end goals. It encourages iteration — repeated efforts to get exactly what your organization needs.Articles Button
Unlimited Users Free
While we’re on the subject of outcomes, one of the most obvious places to measure productivity is in your customer feedback. Ultimately, they are the ones who keep your company going and growing.
There are all kinds of contact points where you can ask users to fill out a form, such as an automated email after a purchase or a quick survey after a customer service call. You can therefore customize each form to represent the workflow you’re trying to improve.
Productivity metrics such as time and successful sales are easy to put into a number, but customer forms allow you to get a grip on those less tangible measurements. With satisfaction surveys after a call, for example, you can find out if your users feel rushed or whether they were treated respectfully.
With this information, you can make changes in your customer service strategy to be more productive. Typical measurements to look at would be if you can reduce the number of repeat calls by improving your technique over the phone. The increased efficiency will be seen in resolved issues and repeat custom.
Repeat custom leads us to what is quite possibly the most important productivity metric out there — your overall profitability. You may have the world’s greatest product, but if it costs you an unsustainable amount of time and energy to produce it, you’re in trouble.
Profitability should influence each and every metric you measure, although not every task needs to focus on profits as a primary target. For example, growing your followers should be a major KPI for your social media team even though it isn’t profitable in itself. You can then extrapolate how your increased followers leads to more lead generation and online sales and get an idea of how it contributed to profits.
Another way to measure productivity in terms of profitability is to look at which of your products to focus your sales team’s energy on. Using the simple output units divided by input units formula, you can measure what you spend on wages and advertising against what you earn back for each product. Selling products with a high profit margin may be better than promoting lower-value items, so more of your advertising and sales resources should be focused in that area.
Now for a deep dive into analytics. In organizations with a ton of moving parts, you can’t solely rely on anecdotal feedback and assumptions. To get a clear, unbiased picture of how your company is doing, it’s all about analytics, and your best place to look is in your CRM. This is where you can combine your time tracking data with your lead conversion rate and your customer satisfaction reports with your successful calls.
What’s more, using CRM interactions with your contact center can also measure productivity for other departments. If you frequently receive complaints about delivery times, you can investigate the reasons why with your shipping service. Your customer service team will play a major role in measuring productivity here. With a well-organized set of analytics working in symbiosis, your productivity measurements in your CRM can increase efficiency in a whole host of other departments.
When you’re bogged down in the numbers, it’s easy to forget that your organization’s efficiency depends on how well your employees are performing. It’s no secret that without clear goals and job satisfaction, your teams’ motivation will drop off a cliff and no amount of algorithms or workflows can make up for that.
Even your most enthusiastic workers can suffer from burnout, so putting in extra hours is a short-term productivity fix. Similarly, without holidays to allow people to disconnect from work, they’ll run out of energy quicker than you think. Using time tracking techniques and deadline analysis, you can spot a drop off in performance, so your managers should call a one-to-one meeting to get to the root problem and get things back on track.
Companies all over the world are running remote work schemes to increase productivity. You can take a scientific approach to the strategy, measuring productivity before and during a work from home trial. If the results come back that your company is more efficient with people working from home, let go of the importance of the office — you may not need it any more.
With these tips to measure productivity and increase efficiency in mind, you can start adapting your teams to better meet your KPIs. However, it’s not just about strategy, you also need the tools that lay the framework for your efforts.
Bitrix24 gives you a full suite of business apps to help you measure performance, from powerful analytics and reporting to customizable forms that connect you to your customers. All integrated on one cloud-based platform, it allows you to take a clear, reliable approach to your strategy — and you can get started for free!
Sign up today and see why 10,000,000 companies have already put their trust in Bitrix24.