If you have not wandered through the Project Management Institute’s (PMI) knowledge center, you have missed an excellent source of best-practice thinking on a variety of issues relevant to project and corporate management. Recently I reviewed an article by Pradeep Patra, PMP and Sunitha Bartaki, PMP of Tata Consultancy Services Limited that I thought was interesting. The article titled, “Productivity Improvement Using Ten Process Commandments” can be found in its entirety here.
At the beginning of their article, they note that productivity improvement is never ending, as discussed in writings on Kaizen and the philosophy of continuous improvement. Productivity improvement initiatives can also be costly. Therefore, their first recommendation is to develop and use a cost of quality (CoQ) to evaluate the impact of changes designed to improve productivity.
Their productivity commandments are:
- Leadership commitment
- Manage change — Absolutely, I agree. Productivity improvement requires change and to succeed at managing change requires the active support of visionary leaders. (see previous posts on change management: Change Management Strategies, Role of Project Managers in Change Management, and Planning Your Organizational Change.
- Organize and plan — can I say, “duh.” However, they continue the “organize and plan” discussion by recommending that the organization create a prioritization of changes — just like ranking software change requests — and that individuals create and monitor early warning signs of problems as part of risk management. OK, that is a very good thing for all organizations to do.
- Reward people for contributing to the productivity improvement process. You have to incentivize people if you want them to change and try new things.
- Train the leadership team, participants, customers and clients. The better stakeholders understand the productivity improvement process, the more valuable will be their support and contribution.
- Create a process improvement framework for project managers, engineers, process managers and support personnel. If the cultural change required is significant or the suggested improvement costly, complete pilot studies or small implementations before spreading across the entire organization.
- Measure key variables – this goes without saying for any initiative you try to implement.
- Assess and evaluate — “evaluate what you want because what gets measured gets produced.”
- Improve communication – I have written several posts on the importance of communication.
- Focus on benefits — measure cost savings following these do’s and don’t’s:
- Do: assign representatives from finance to validate the initiative and remember to include soft benefits that indirectly affect profit, like customer and employee satisfaction.
- Don’t: make productivity improvement another name for cutting costs, nor set unrealistic targets that doom the initiative to failure.
Although the recommendations seem simplistic — and you have heard it all before — the suggestions for a successful productivity improvement initiative are valid.