Striving for Better Efficiency

Studying how people work and how we can improve efficiency reminds me of the old time and motion studies that were so popular in the mid 1950’s. These white coated figures would roam factories with their stop watches. The purpose of a time and motion study would be used to reduce the number of motions in performing a task in order to increase productivity and even reduce staff numbers. No wonder they were viewed as the enemy by the employees. It conjures up the image of Peter Sellers as the shop steward in the British comedy called I’m Alright Jack.

Thankfully things have moved on since then. However, I remember that during the recession of the 1990’s a new business buzzword appeared on the landscape of best practice – ‘downsizing’. I think this meant different things to different businesses, but ultimately it was about reducing a company’s head count. To add a positive spin on it came ‘rightsizing’ which is in fact downsizing, but no doubt made the companies feel better.

The new paradigm of Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) took a different tack; instead of just looking at how to reduce staffing levels it radically redesigned the organisation and all its processes to achieve dramatic performance improvements. At the same time, a process called workflow was being implemented which allowed businesses to better understand the number and sequence of tasks being carried out for their business operations and then to refine and automate these systematic functions to execute them more effectively.

All companies strive to do more with less, but today companies have to work smarter and move forward from simply improving and/or re-engineering processes to aligning all their company functions across the enterprise that respond to the demands and needs of customers with the help of Business Process Management (BPM). Much is written about being customer centric, but it still surprises me how many organisations just give lip service to this concept. For them, understanding what the customer really, really wants is a step too far.

Retailers for instance, have been forced to face up to their ability to be customer centric as the economic downturn puts pressure on their business. Modern POS hardware and software is purported to be the number-one most valued in-store technology. But a large number of retailers are using POS systems that do not support customer-specific promotions, this according to the Retail Horizons, seventh annual "State of the Retail Industry" study.

To maintain a competitive advantage, retailers are now turning to BPM to reduce costs while creating a more desirable shopping experience. They are evaluating their critical business processes, but not only looking at how they can be improved and become more efficient, but also how they can offer more to the customer. I believe that being actively more customer centric will boost increased efficiency.

Published by Maxatec Europe – Read the original article on the Maxatec website

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