ReThink Productivity Podcast

Productivity Insights - Driving Constant Evolution and Progress in Business Operations

October 15, 2023 Season 12 Episode 8
ReThink Productivity Podcast
Productivity Insights - Driving Constant Evolution and Progress in Business Operations
Show Notes Transcript

Sue & Simon talk about the latest productivity trends. They discuss:

  • The need to constantly evolve Productivity and have a robust roadmap 
  • Moving the Non-Value Add and Task & Process time into Customer
  • Every Second Counts - The new book from ReThink
  • The Rethink Forum on 12th September 2024

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to the Productivity Podcast. Sue's back with us for some more productivity insights. Hi, sue.

Speaker 2:

Hello.

Speaker 1:

And we're going to talk about productivity evolution. So do you want to explain a bit more? Put some meat on the bone.

Speaker 2:

Well, we all know that the world's changing all the time and businesses have to be changing in line with that as well too. And it's so much easier if you can keep making constant changes, whether it's to customer offer and then keeping your operating model in line with it, or kind of always looking for those improvements in your operation, because you're always having to look for cost savings and things as things go along. So it's much easier to do that in ongoing, regular small steps where you're planning ahead, rather than find yourself perhaps in a bit of a difficult time, maybe not going as far as a crisis, but then suddenly having to look for big changes. And it can be easy to just do nothing for a while to think, right, we've delivered a whole load of stuff, we can sit back for a while, and I think that's quite a dangerous strategy because it's so easy to get caught out. So constant change I think if you're not moving forward slightly all the time, you're probably moving backwards against the competition. There's only a limit. There's only so long you can carry on doing that.

Speaker 1:

And technology moves quickly in some areas. In other areas it seems to linger around, and I'll probably use things like electronic shelfage labels, rfid. There was a whole wave of people getting excited about tunnel payment at checkouts and things, and, granted, there's some great case studies now about electronic shelfage labels and lots of certainly fashion organizations using RFID, but it wasn't the tidal wave of change that was talked about five, six years ago. It's taken five, six years for people to really get on with it, which I suppose is a case in point of if you wait and wait and wait, then there's a load of other stuff you could be getting on with and I assume some of that's cost that hinders that. And I assume the technology gets quicker and better and cheaper and therefore the cost drops as it becomes more openly accessible to the market. But have you got any examples of where you've seen people do good kind of continual change?

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I suppose one of the clients that we had actually set themselves some targets and they did it from an efficiency study. So an efficiency study is one where we do laps of the operation and from that we record the proportion of time that's spent on the different activities that happen. So some of that will be non-value add time, so also known as lost and unproductive time, but also time on different aspects. So how long are they spending on admin versus doing other things? And actually that organization set themselves some top line targets to move activity out of both non-value add and then the essential tasks that they have to do into customer time. And that's an organization that for them spending more time with customer add value. It's a very sales orientated business and because they started, did started with a measure and then set themselves targets to move it then gave them a very clear view about when they were then assessing any operational change they could make. They could then say, well, how much is this going to move the dial for us? And I always find efficiency study is a really great place to start when you're looking at these things, because we've got some really good benchmarks now. So if you're talking about in warehousing, the amount of time people spend actually picking or putting stock away versus moving. So whether it's trucking or whether it's walking on foot, that's really insightful. And then things like retail. We've got it on how long people are spending on handling stock. What's the ratio of? Does most of your delivery go out first time? So I am spending a lot of time on replenishment because that suggests that you're not putting your way first thing. So the fact that we can benchmark those things gives some people some really clear places to start, as well as kind of the observations and things that we make.

Speaker 1:

And we've done a previous episode, haven't we around efficiency study. People want to dig into that in more detail and activity study and role study and predetermine MTM analysis. So I think there's two things to pick up on there. So one, it's not necessarily all about cost saving, maybe reapportioning costs. And two, I think there's a massive art in the whole taking it out of task and process or non-value add and putting it in customer. I think it's quite easy to take it out of task and process but almost increasing non-value add by stealth. So there are ways that you've seen people have done a good job in terms of making sure it doesn't go and dropping to the non-value add.

Speaker 2:

I think it starts right back at the beginning. So a lot of businesses have a productivity roadmap, which is kind of what I refer to, the other business having to some clear targets. So in an ideal world, a productivity roadmap will look at quick wins, things you'll deliver this year. But the power of it is you'll be looking at things that you have to do the work for now to deliver next year. So I think the places that get it right, where they're able to put these changes in that don't deliver a lot of non-value add, is one they've got a reasonable understanding of what the size of the change will be. So, for example, if I save a second on something that I do not very often, it doesn't add up too much. Is it really worth doing that change? If I save a second on something but it's, for example, time between customers and it I can't do anything else with that time, it potentially just drops into dead time. So the part that the people who've got a really good understanding of what a change will deliver for them and then how that relates to their salary budgets and kind of how their model works, then I think they're the ones that do best and you really get to that by one, having a clear understanding of what you're doing rather than grabbing at a headline, because some of these changes can look like glitzy and exciting and when you look at what they really deliver in terms of realizable benefit, it might not be that. So one that got that a real clear eye on where the money's spent and what they could free up and. And the other thing is that they're probably doing quite a bit of testing and learning before they start. So how can you put it into practice, learn from it, tweak it before you go to a full rollout, because once things are in full rollout, to change it is obviously much harder than if it's just in a testing stage.

Speaker 1:

And it touches on a couple of chapters in the book, doesn't it? So I know we've launched the book at the productivity forum. Lots of people there well, everybody that came about a copy. Lots of requests for copies. Since, do you want to just touch on the book again? Briefly, just for those that weren't aware of it.

Speaker 2:

Yes, so it's intended to be something that you dip into. It's based around the ten most frequently asked questions we get, and one of the chapters is about productivity roadmaps, so it's intended that you can read about it, get some background. This case studies in there. This quick wins tells you how you can tackle it. So hopefully it's something that's a very practical guide for people that are facing real-time challenges, and whether that's something that's a kind of an in-your-face now challenge or whether that's I know that I need to do continuous improvement. I think for all those situations it will hopefully be something that's helpful.

Speaker 1:

A design that you can kind of pick it up, put it down, jump in for a chapter that's relevant at the time. It's not a kind of cradle to grave read.

Speaker 2:

No, no, it's not a start. At the end, and what you way through, they're independent chapters, so you can just dip in and out as you see fit.

Speaker 1:

And if people want to copy.

Speaker 2:

At the moment they'll need to contact us and soon it's going to be available via Amazon. So it's kind of a week or so away from that Brilliant.

Speaker 1:

And then 12th September 2024 is now the confirmed date for the Productivity Forum next year, back at the National Conference Centre in Birmingham, which is adjacent to the motorcycle museum. So nice and easy for planes, trains, automobiles, maybe not bikes, maybe not walking, but lots of people already registered from last year. So I think we're 70 plus already and we were just slightly over a hundred last year. So registration links on the website. If you want to come open to kind of anybody use in a customer-facing organisation. There'll be people from contact centres, hospitality, retail warehousing logistics. So, again, building the agenda quite a way out, but, as we found last year, the kind of seats get booked up early. So if you need any more details, look on the website or drop me your sewer note and we'll take it from there. So Productivity Robups continually, tweaks and changes, trying to take it out of non-value add and essential task and process time, the arts going back into customer or saving. So lots to think about, I'm sure, for every organisation, because, as you said at the start, it's a turbulent time, but then, if you look back, it probably always has been and always will be.

Speaker 2:

And the clever thing is if you can link it to your budgeting cycle. So our experience as big organisations is that as budget time rolls around, every year you'll be asked for some savings. So actually, if you start scrambling around then to find things, you probably won't be making your best decisions if you're a few months ahead of that. So you've got a stream of tried and tested solutions, plus you've got an ITA and actually next year somebody's going to ask me the question again. It really helps you do things in a much better way and be more streamlined and avoid knee-jerk changes that perhaps aren't the best for the business.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, and I think as a minimum I'd always work on the principle I need to absorb wage inflation through initiatives. Yeah, whether you're paying national living wage or above, and if you're paying above, you've always got to keep the gap. So that would be kind of my mind's safe. I was in that role at the moment.

Speaker 2:

And I guess you always know what the inflation headline number is. It's always news. Every month it gets reported, whether it goes up, down or stays the same. So again, the inflation number is often a good guide to where salary changes might be. They're usually in the same sort of ballpark there might be a bit higher if it's low inflation, there might be a bit lower if it's high inflation. But that's usually the sort of figure that you're looking for, isn't it?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, absolutely brilliant. So great insights again and we'll be back soon with another episode. Thanks, akbye.

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