“How busy are you?”
This is a question you probably get asked from time to time. People ask this to gauge whether business is good, if there’s time for a chat, or what your stress levels are like. Most of us tend to do a quick check-in with our mental to-do list and answer according to how busy we feel. But what happens if someone instead asks the question “How productive are you?” Will your answer be the same?
Good busy and bad busy
When we talk about productivity in the business world, it’s not always about output of products or services. It’s about the efficiency of our operations across the organisation as well as on an individual level. It’s about how fast we process orders, how well we are able to minimise downtime, how we organise our information for easy access, and – ultimately – how quickly we turn a profit.
What a productive business looks like
In brief terms, a productive business is one that gets a satisfactory value from the time, energy and money it spends.
So how do you know if you have a productive business or not? Well, this isn’t always crystal clear to us when we’re immersed in our daily tasks. It’s often not until we take a few steps back and assess our process structure that we’re able to spot our strong and weak areas.
There are however a few common traits that productive businesses share. Let’s take a look at them!
- It has a clear organisation structure
In a productive business, every key function is clearly assigned, and everyone knows what their role is. There is no confusion around what needs to be done or who is responsible for doing it.
Are you the only person in the company? Then you may think this doesn’t apply to you, but it does! You need to understand all the various ‘hats’ you wear in your business and know how to fulfil these functions in the best way possible.
- It doesn’t have slow seasons
Many organisations struggle with peaks and troughs during a typical year. Depending on various industry and market factors, there will be variations in supply and demand that create what we often refer to as ‘the bio-rhythm’ of the business.
A productive business, however, finds ways to make the most of these variations. When orders are slow, they’re working on quality improvement projects or research. When delivery lead times are longer, they run marketing campaigns for alternative products or services. Whatever is going on around the business, they’re not sitting idly by waiting for things to pick up – they find ways to make each month of the year productive.
- It measures and reports on key metrics
We often say ‘you can’t improve what you can’t measure’. This is very true when it comes to understanding productivity. After all, how can you make sure you are productive if you’re not keeping track of results and outcomes?
Key performance indicators may look different from one business to the next, but the principles of measuring and reporting are the same. To be productive you will need to understand what is worth measuring, define what success looks like and set a system for tracking and reporting results.
- It anticipates growth
A productive business is often highly scalable. It will have identified any barriers preventing it from delivering efficiently, and set systems in place to get the job done faster and better. These are typically the very same systems that will also ensure that then business can grow quickly in response to demand and new market opportunities.
- It is consistent
Another reason why many organisations are highly efficient is because they know exactly how to operate. There is a clear, systematic methodology behind every function. People know how to get the job done, and they have the tools and the resources to do it – which means that the output is the same every time.
When you’re following a cake recipe, you can expect the cake to come out the same as it did last time – as long as you have the same ingredients and the same equipment. This is something that productive businesses have really grasped. Consistency is often key to not only productivity but to customer and staff satisfaction too.
Systems unlock productivity
The one thread that runs through all these productivity traits is systems. They’re all results of the structured, methodical approach that systemisation brings. But the benefit of systems doesn’t stop at productivity! By working on your systems, your business will also become easier to manage, more resilient and more profitable.
Ready to work smarter?
Your business deserves to be productive. If you feel that your business is ready to take a step up and become systemised and more productive, send us a message on firstname.lastname@example.org today!