Mind the productivity gap

All Things Business spoke to productivity expert Nick Oliver about why it is so important to use Lean methods in your organisation.

From left to right Nick Oliver Managing Director of Nick Oliver Associates  & Steve Matheron, MD of  The Engineering Quest
From left to right Nick Oliver Managing Director of Nick Oliver Associates & Steve Matheron, MD of The Engineering Quest

Is my business productivity high enough?

You will have heard the news stories about the big challenge facing the UK economy – low productivity. According to the OECD, overall UK productivity was 15.1pc behind the G7 average in 2016. The main causes are often cited as poor infrastructure and low skill levels, and it is widely accepted that we need to upskill the UK workforce and improve our transport infrastructure.

Does this affect my business?

The answer is almost certainly Yes! If you haven’t examined productivity in your organisation, the chances are that you are consuming more time and effort to do things and therefore making less profits than you should.

How do I know what my productivity is like and how do I improve it?

There is a powerful set of techniques that can be used to achieve massive increases in productivity for minimal cost: Lean Techniques and Methods. These enable you to assess where you are losing money and implement structured improvements to improve matters.

How to beat your UK and international competitors

Northamptonshire based Lean specialists, Nick Oliver Associates, have spent 20 years adapting and implementing Lean to suit a wide range of businesses in the manufacturing and service sector. Automotive manufacturers have long adopted Lean techniques and indeed would not be able to compete without Lean. Nick Oliver says: “Lean is proven over and over again across a wide range of businesses. The key is to quickly understand the business you are working with – the culture and what it is they do well. Then to apply the most appropriate techniques to their particular situation, adapting them as necessary to suit the environment without sacrificing the essential Lean elements.

Top manufacturer boosts productivity and profits.

Nick Oliver Associates have worked closely with leading precision engineering company The Engineering Quest to grow their business, while reducing costs and increasing profits. They have spent several years working closely together to create factories that Customers are impressed by and staff are proud to work in.

Steve Matheron, MD, says “The guys from Nick Oliver Associates have taken the time and trouble to really understand our business. They work closely with all the team and have really stretched our thinking and helped us grow our capabilities. Over the last year alone, output has increased by 20% and profits by 40%. Without their help this would have been much more difficult. The Lean journey goes on!” Nick Oliver added “We get close to the work and all members of the team to identify where all the constraints are. We provide training, then challenge and collaborate with the teams to think Lean and change the way they do things for the better. It is through this process of training, challenging and collaboration that we helped them achieve phenomenal results.

What is Lean?

Lean means: To provide the most value from the customer’s perspective, while consuming the fewest resources and utilising the talents of the people who do the work. It’s also very much about respecting and empowering people, creating an environment in which innovation can thrive. It’s about creating a new approach to problem solving and harnessing all the brainpower in your organisation, providing more fulfilling work and personal development for everyone.

Lean does this by applying a set of techniques that examine and quantify the work and to engage the team to plan and implement improvements.

Two things to do to improve productivity in your business in 2018

Value Stream Mapping

Sometimes called ‘Learning to see’. Whether you are a service business or a manufacturer, define precisely what it is you do that your customers really value. Write it down. Challenge every other activity you do and ask if it is absolutely necessary in order to add value. If not, then find a way of eliminating or at least substantially reducing it. Create a plan to implement changes.

5S Workplace Organisation

‘A place for everything and everything in its place’. A very high level of organisation, whether it is in an office, within your IT systems or in a manufacturing environment will buy you productivity improvement – frequently as high as 20-40%! And makes it a nicer place to work in – all for very little cost.

- Step 1 Remove the clutter. Take out of your work environment any items that are not necessary to add value.

- Step 2 Organise all the things you need into the best possible ‘ergonomic’ arrangement.

- Step 3 Make sure everything left is clean and tidy.

- Step 4 Establish systems to maintain order and cleanliness.

- Step 5 Maintain systems to prevent degradation.

Get online and find out more about Lean, there’s lots out there!

To find out more about what Lean could do for you organisation and take advantage of 2 hours expert advice free of charge, contact Nick Oliver on 07932 190802 or email info@lean-management.org.uk.

For more information and Case Studies, see Nick Oliver Associates website by clicking here