New productivity software doesn’t measure business elements that count – yet it does force white collar workers, like supply chain management professionals, to create a false corporate ROI.
Are you falling for it?
BTW: Blue collar workers have also been stressed for a while from productivity software. I’m concentrating mainly on white collar in this article, though there is cross-over.
On August 14, 2022, the NYTimes published an article on worker productivity and the software that is marketed to improve it.
The article stated 8 in 10 of the largest US companies currently use worker productivity software to manage and report on, using small time increments, what a person is doing every minute of every day.
The problem: the software does not measure what it takes to enable robust, reliable, agile, working supply chains
In fact, since the software only produces data on what it can measure, it focuses on time and speed of scrolling, number of clicks, and what your employees are looking at.
Meaningful? Only to a small degree in supply chain management.
To enable a company’s supply chains to be competitive in today’s global markets, your company should be focused on:
How many of the above 5 critical supply chain elements rely on measuring the amount of time people spend scrolling or clicking?
While the article relates that some managers are initially seeing huge increases by using this method of measuring productivity, do those productivity increases translate to top or bottom-line improvements?
What about ROI for the company (not for the software)?
Do clicks and scrolling translate into supply chains that are Reliable? Responsive? Agile? Cost effective?
So what is the software really doing for us?
Let’s take a look.
Embedded are incessant pop-ups that tell you how you are performing and where you are currently deficient. For example…
… staying on a paragraph to really understand its meaning and applicability to your supply chains and business? Not considered productive therefore your work is deficient.
… or even if you are focused on a graph or chart to understand the strategic implications of what is happening to a commodity spot price, well, you are measured as having been idle too long. You lingered for comprehension, which is not measured as being productive, therefore your work is deficient.
A bit nuts, don’t you think?
Even if all you do is work on a computer all day filling forms, the company is forcing a multi-tasking environment due to the incessant interruptions and requirement to repeatedly, at short intervals, evaluate your performance against a software coder’s subjective determination of what makes for good performance at your company and for your job.
As you know, research shows that multitasking inhibits productivity.
Research also shows that it is the little, seemingly unproductive times that often super charges productivity and innovation.
Still, besides real productivity and innovation, are these 8 out of 10 large companies really putting anything else at risk?
Many of your company’s competitors, especially SMB’s, focus on creating relationships with their client base, on providing excellent customer service to enhance their brand and image, and on focusing efforts to obtaining measurable results the customer will reward them for. The truth is, to have a viable working relationship you must have a lot of meaningful discussion, collaboration, communication, and cooperation.
Can’t do this when you are chasing click counts and scrolling metrics.
And yes, large companies continually compete against SMBs – especially in recessionary times. But if your workers are focusing on meeting a software coder’s interpretation of corporate productivity for client results, you already know that the SMB (and maybe your main competitor’s) approach wins out.
The US experienced the Great Resignation. US workers continue to move jobs, demand work-life balance, and require remote work.
Back to the article: statements are made about why employers require performance tracking software is so that remote work can be monitored and to find “derelict workers”.
Software to find derelict workers? Isn’t that why we have managers in the first place?
If non-management employees know who the “derelict workers” are, but your managers do not, then perhaps your HR area needs to provide more training in understanding how to measure and read results produced per person that are meaningful to the company.
Perhaps management requires from HR training on how to help someone improve their job capabilities whether through training or movement to a more suitable position for the person’s skill set.
Perhaps there is a need on how to provide clearer directions and work requirements.
And maybe, perhaps there is a need for training in how to use technology as an aid to the critical discussions and corrective action planning for the minority of workers who are truly not productive.
Don’t we have dashboards and metrics for results to measure if the work we are doing does in fact matter in measurable and supply chain meaningful ways?
Does this adherence to non-meaningful measures do anything for the company?
Well, it does kill morale.
Here’s an example:
During a job as a manufacturing engineer, the company I worked for had a buzzer that went over the PA system at 7:30 am every workday letting everyone know they should be in their chairs working. Me? I usually walked in at 7:32 or 7:33 am. Could I have gotten in 5 minutes earlier? Sure. But when my boss confronted me about being “terminally late” – the company considered 2 minutes after the buzzer to be terminally late – I asked him if the “terminally late” black mark was at all erased by the 1 to 2 hours per day I spent in unpaid overtime working with 2nd shift to help them meet their production goals and work more efficiently with 1st shift.
I was told it didn’t matter, I was terminally late and had to change
So, I left
Not because of the 7:30 am time requirement, but in part because the company rated a physical headcount in-your-seat requirement to start at 7:30 am metric, which did nothing for the top or bottom-line of the company, over the very real productivity/communication/collaboration work I was doing on unpaid overtime that was in fact measurably improving the top and bottom lines.
Most employees want to do a great job.
Don’t put up barriers that inhibit them from helping your company make money, have a great image, and serve the customer. Start measuring what truly counts and train your managers to handle the rest.
And by the way, just because you get a lot of data, it doesn’t mean your advancing the company
Digital technology by itself is never a silver bullet.
If you are interested in finding the silver bullet to improving supply chain competitiveness, reliability, agility, responsiveness, and cost efficiency, click here.
Dr. Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky helps forward and Return supply chains create their unique silver bullets to thrive in today’s highly competitive global supply chain arena.
Keywords: supply chain management, supply chain productivity, digital technology, SCOR, top line results, bottom line results, productivity software, reliability, responsiveness, agility, cost effective, Cynthia Kalina-Kaminsky, Process & Strategy Solutions