Productivity of the Organisation
Productivity of the organisation is normally an operations problem - the operations function is usually the area of the company with the largest budget - the largest number of employees, machines and materials to be controlled and therefore reducing the costs accompanying these resources (inputs to the productivity equation) can only be to the organisation's benefit. As was previously discussed, the internal improvement factors fall into two major categories: hard and soft, and as a conclusion to this chapter, it is worthwhile to consider some of the 'trade-offs' which managers have to consider in attempting to achieve productivity improvements.
A common hard consideration is the replacement of labour with automated systems - for example the use of robotic welding equipment in the automobile industry or computer created speech replacing call centres. The balance lies in the limitations of automated systems, not only in terms of the complexity of task that they can undertake, but also in reduced task flexibility - consider (as an example) how an office automation system copes with non-standard document sizes or a caller asks questions beyond the script of the call centre advisor. Finally, you should always remember that people are the most flexible and responsive components in any system - they can respond quickly to changes in environment and task and can often assist in the decision-making role when productivity improvements are being made. Designing better and more pleasant ways in which to do a job or integrating the employee into the overall management process often has a direct reflection on the productivity of the system.