by Granville Triumph
In a manufacturing environment, productivity is a critical factor of economic success. Defined as “the effectiveness of productive effort, as measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input,” productivity determines whether the organizations is producing goods at an adequate rate given the total costs incurred. To be sure, there are many, many variables in that equation. All else being equal, however, you’re going to make a bigger profit if you can produce more goods, faster.
The concept of productivity is more abstract in other sectors. If you have a services-based business, the speed with which you deliver services is not necessarily indicative of your profitability. Nevertheless, you want to be as efficient as possible, and technology can help you achieve that.
Collaboration tools enable your staff to communicate as needed no matter where they are. This is particularly important for today’s mobile workforce as well as employees who telecommute. Today’s collaboration tools provide workers with several modes of communication, including voice, instant messaging, even videoconferencing. Services such as Google Hangouts and Skype for Business can be handy for ad hoc collaboration, but a unified communications platform will provide greater reliability, quality and performance.
Speaking of mobile workers, you’ll want to have remote access and file-sharing capabilities so they can get the tools and information they need from anywhere. This is one area where you’ll definitely want to invest in business-grade solutions. Road warriors may be accessing the network from wireless hotspots, so robust security is a must. And you don’t want employees copying sensitive data to insecure file-sharing platforms.
The right business applications can automate manual processes and help ensure that there’s one, accurate version of data. As a first step, ask your staff about bottlenecks and workarounds that hamper their productivity. Then look for commercial software that might fill the gap. If nothing exists, consider having a software programmer develop a custom application for you, or integrate multiple apps to sync with your workflows.
Tips for Maximizing the Value of Technology Tools
- Make sure the technology you implement is actually used. User adoption is critical to achieving ROI on your technology investments. Ask your employees what tools they need, and involve them in the selection process if possible. Make sure they understand how technology will make their lives easier. The more employees are invested in technology decisions, the more likely they are to actually use the tools.
- Beware of high-tech distractions. Collaboration and social media tools can be beneficial but they can also distract employees from their work. Applications that are difficult to use can also sap productivity rather than enhancing it. Training and technology use policies can help keep things on track.
- Provide adequate support. Poorly performing applications can hamper both productivity and customer service. If you don’t have IT staff, computer problems can be a real headache for both users and your organization’s “tech support person by default.” Partner with a tech support provider who can keep things humming along smoothly.
Productivity may be difficult to measure but it has a direct impact on your company’s success. If you have limited or outdated technology tools, modest IT investments can go a long way to boosting efficiency and, ultimately, your bottom line.