Note: if you have an interest in productivity in this digital age, check out Bit Literacy: Productivity in the Age of Information and E-mail Overload (Affiliate Link)…great book.
In the article, Phillips discusses a recent newsletter from IFS (an ERP software vendor) that discussed the issues of usability of ERP systems. In the newsletter, IFS relates survey results that tried to, in Phillips’ words, understand:
…how much of a barrier the enterprise software most of us use everyday presents to becoming more productive
The research that IFS presented is quite interesting (click here to read the results on CIO.com). In addition to looking at usability, the research looked at productivity and asked questions around what factors caused a loss in productivity in the organization. The results aren’t surprising…results included things like (not in any order):
- too many emails
- too much work
- lack of clear priorities
- poor IT optimization
- too many meetings
The survey respondents were than asked to supply factors that effected their own productivity and, again, the results aren’t really that surprising…results included things such as unclear objectives, not enough resources, too many meetings, etc etc.
What I found most interesting was Phillips’ take on the root causes of the above issue. He writes:
- Unclear objectives/priorities – poor management strategic direction and communication
- Too many meetings – poor management skills and time management
- Too much work/Lack of resources – downsizing and “doing more with less”
- IT not optimized/doesn’t work the way the company works – inflexible technology supporting a business that is required to be flexible and change
So, in my simple analysis, many of the issues related to productivity have to do with clear management direction and communication, and the ability to communicate what’s important. Additionally, in today’s market, flexibility and adaptability are just as important as established processes and operational excellence, but our technology, systems and processes aren’t designed that way.
Jeffrey Phillips’ hits it on the head.
Most problems with productivity today can be traced to a few factors (at least in my experience). These are:
- Poor Alignment of Information Technology and/or IT Process to the Business goals - If your organization needs to be flexible, don’t put in an inflexible IT system and/or IT process.
- Reliance on formal IT process – Process is good. Process is necessary. Create process to allow for flexibility, speed and change. Most processes today in the IT world do not follow this mantra. They are created and then their creators expect people to follow them closely with no deviation and no room for change.
- Poor Communication – Managers need to understand that in order to get the most of their teams, they need to clearly outline the responsibilities and expectations of the people in their teams. Without this clear communications, people will spend time trying to determine what they should be doing and/or who should be doing it.
- Poor Leadership – with good leadership, an organization can overcome many things. Excellent leaders will overcome poor process (by changing the process), poor alignment (by aligning IT and business), and poor communication (by ensuring communication improves).
Phillips’ analysis of the results of the IFS study were right on the mark….or at least they match up with my own thougths