Data Gathering

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    Is it time to upgrade the way you do work? The productivity gains can be substantial.

Is it time to upgrade the way you do work? The productivity gains can be substantial.

You review your personal technology devices – cell phone, computer, tablet, laptop – every year or two. Your company (hopefully) reviews technology platforms and equipment every two to five years. So why are your internal processes the same ones that have been in place since… well…  do you even know when they were established? The gains to be had in productivity are no less substantial than the advances we’ve seen in technology. The changes that are put in place are usually reactive in nature and necessary to keep up with growth. At some point it’s going to be time to step back and evaluate how work is done from start to finish.
Let’s look at this from a different angle
We all want to see results faster, attain information that has already been compiled, be given enough data to make informed decisions, and believe in leprechauns. The first three might actually be possible, but first you’re going to have to step back and look at how business is being done. You’ve been keeping up with the growth and hiring people to help maintain the increased data flow, but you never really feel like you have the entire picture in front of you. Instead of focusing on the specific tasks being done every day, let’s step back and look at daily operations from a data flow standpoint.
Data flow and how it relates to productivity
Chances are, when you established the way business is done you were probably not operating with all of the data input and management systems you are today. Rather than review the processes and activities based on the new information, you have probably taken one of two courses of action. You either slightly altered the […]

What is Productivity?

What Productivity is NOT
I come across articles and blog posts fairly frequently that speak of productivity and time management as if they mean the same thing.  What I find is that most of these articles are simply telling us how to get more done in a day.  How to force more annoying tasks into the limited time we have.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not real interested in scheduling every minute of my day with mundane and redundant tasks.

Yes, productivity can improve with things like better time management, applications for your phone that help you stay organized and on task, and other such things that make up the “what” and “how” of managing your daily life.  But let’s explore another aspect of this.  What if all those extra actions you are trying to organize and manage just went away?  What if instead of juggling dozens of tasks, and spending a good part of your day organizing and managing those activities, they just managed themselves?  That, my friends, is the true meaning of productivity.

Merriam-Webster defines Productivity as the rate at which goods are produced or work is completed.

If we are truly looking for ways to make our work days more productive, let’s stop doing things in stupid ways.  Over the last 20 years, all of my customer success stories were made possible by simple tasks that had been made to be ridiculously difficult and time consuming, and there was significant room for improvement.  True gains in productivity come not from organizing tasks, but from automating or eliminating those tasks.

It’s time to rock the boat and stop using the excuse of “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it” to justify an activity.  If you’re concerned […]

The high cost of low productivity

What you’ll pay for low productivity
So you’re aware of the inefficient and unproductive busy work going on in your organization.  Correcting this problem sounds difficult, potentially expensive, and may seem like more trouble than it’s worth.
Low productivity and inefficiencies are costing you more than you realize.  Here are three of the basic reasons why:
1. Inefficient tasks are prone to human error
Is your management team making decisions based on numbers provided by your accounting team?  Are those numbers provided in the form of spreadsheets, briefings, and reports that are manually generated every month?  Guess what… people make mistakes.  If you have large spreadsheets with multiple and repeated formulas, chances are there are errors.  Maybe the errors are minor.  Then again…

Now, let’s take it a step further.  You have briefing slides that link to those spreadsheets to give a dashboard-style presentation to management. Those briefing slides are linked to the spreadsheets when they are originally created.  Is anyone checking the links for accuracy and completeness?  Everything appears to be working, so is it “out of sight, out of mind”?

I led the design and implementation of an effort to automate monthly management briefings in a large organization.  To accomplish the effort, we had to extract the business rules from the existing spreadsheets and briefing slides.  Once we pulled back the covers, we encountered numerous errors throughout both pieces.  Cut and paste actions inside the spreadsheet caused formulas to point to the wrong cells.  Briefing slides were linked to old versions of spreadsheets.  Basically, the accounting team had been briefing management with bad numbers for FOUR YEARS.  Management had been making critical decisions as to the direction and plans for the organization based primarily on those numbers.
2. Inefficient tasks […]