When we are trying to satisfy our customer needs and wants it can be difficult to even think about continuous improvement. The days are busy, the chaos can seem normal and the day / week / month finishes before you’ve even caught your breath.

There is a lot of talk about productivity generally and I am a big fan of that. My focus with my clients is often centred around on time delivery performance but productivity improvements aren’t a separate category.

Let me share with you five productivity improvements you can make that will also have a direct link to your on time delivery performance (and your sanity).

1. Challenge all of your concerns

At first glance this sounds like an approach that is going to give you more work. I can’t sugar coat this; it will at the outset (but not too much).

I see so many problems in businesses that other people have seen too. The issue here is that the problems haven’t been dealt with and have become part of the normal day to day working pattern.

If you want things to change then you need to be clear about your concerns:

  • What doesn’t work in the right way?
  • What isn’t producing results to the right level?
  • What sucks away your time?

If you identify your concerns, then you can think about what caused the concern and then what you need to do to resolve the situation. It’s a pretty straightforward approach and done correctly you can start to save some serious time back from wasted activity.

If you choose the right things your concerns can alleviate delivery problems.

2. Simplify your handovers

The gaps between your business processes are your handovers. The quality of these handovers can make a big difference to:

  • How quickly your business processes can proceed.
  • How much rework / rectification work you need to do later.

Handovers at the front end of your business can be glibly dealt with, but usually at the expense of the activities towards the end of your product / service / project delivery. If you can simplify what needs to take place and educate your team about the handovers your life can become easier.

Again, this might seem like it will add time to your already stretched workload but a couple of improvements here and there will make a difference. If you can help your business processes to progress more smoothly you will speed up your processes (and potentially improve delivery performance) and reduce the level of fire-fighting required later on (improving your actual workload and your sanity!).

3. Put a time limit on meetings

I like well planned and executed meetings; they help to get results. I don’t like badly planned meetings they just waste a lot of time. What kind of meetings do you have in your business?

A simple change to your meeting format, to drive up productivity, is to put time limits on the overall duration of the meeting and the various elements of the agenda. This is not a new idea but one that is often underused.

If you put a time on a meeting agenda item it tends to do a few things. It makes coming to a decision more efficient as dithering diminishes. It stops talking shops, especially when the agenda point has a clear purpose. It helps people to prepare if responsibilities are clear.

When the meetings aim is to manage process improvements and improve on time delivery performance you get a double whammy. Less time is spent on meetings and less time is spent (in the longer term) on hand holding sub-par processes.

otif improvement system

4. Hold a daily huddle

A lot of teams meet on a daily basis. Of these teams, in my experience, very few have a process driven agenda. They talk about problems and what is happening today in most of the cases.

When you flip the agenda round and start to talk about the effectiveness of key process activities problems start to dry up. This is all to do with cause and effect relationships, if the processes start properly then they have a good chance of finishing properly.

If you do the same thing with your main delivery business process you can quickly create an agenda for your daily huddle that can drive the right behaviours. Once you start getting the days right the weeks and months start to take care of themselves.

Again, it might seem as though I am trying to put something additional into your working day. I am. If this is done correctly, however, this short meeting will start to save you time and improve the performance of your processes.

On time delivery can soar from this kind of approach.

5. Let your systems take the strain

If you operate a software system to support the delivery of your service / product / project then make sure that it is taking the strain. Too many businesses have workarounds instead of getting the system to do the work.

Sometimes this is down to incorrect software selection but most of the cases I witness are down to a combination of poor setup and a lack of knowledge. Luckily fixing your setup and learning a few commands is usually a low-cost remedy.

As much as I love the program Excel, if you are using this (or something similar) because your system is not working the way you need to then speak up. Arguably this item should be a concern, but I see it so often that it gets its own point in this list.

When you get a computer system performing the routine tasks effectively it frees up your talent and time to do far better things. If you see anyone in your team stuck with this kind of problem then it is essential that you help them out of their hole.

A well running system can dramatically reduce your wasted time and help to improve your delivery performance.

I hope that you have found these five points to be useful. Even applying just one or two of them will make a difference to how productive you are. This productivity gain then has the chance of letting your work on other improvement projects and how far you can go is part of the fun with improvement work.

It doesn’t have start with a big gesture either. Small improvements can lead to bigger things. Occasionally you will find that small changes will lead to big results; pick wisely and see if you can find the “biggest bang for your buck!”.

All the best,


Giles Johnston

Giles Johnston is a Chartered Engineer who consults with businesses to improve their on time delivery performance, ERP system performance and deploy Kaizen / Lean production methods. Giles is also the author of 'What Does Good Look Like?'.