Productivity – SMEs Making Slow Progress

UK Productivity and the SME focus

I do find it interesting in reading reports on UK Productivity and the SME focus on how there are a lot of SMEs making slow progress in this arena.

If we step back, which some reports have eluded to… the SME government funded programmes have always been based on growth and employment opportunities (NOT Productivity) so is it any wonder we have some issues. Growth and employment is an excellent focus and most SMEs want more, albeit it does bring its own set of issues and problems.

Additionally in reviewing the Growth and Employment Objective, I also question some of the programmes themselves. When I see that surveys have been completed across their customer base and the customer has highlighted they want Strategy and Tactical Planning, Continuous Improvement, but have been sold Website upgrades, Public Relations, etc. (again though this is aligned to the programme output of growth and employment??? Wrong objective, wrong KPI perhaps???)

Have we shot ourselves in the foot with the focus on Growth and Employment? In some respects, possibly, but we can do something about it? If we accept that’s it’s a problem of course.

Do we need to focus internally? Absolutely, if you want to drive productivity this is where the focus needs to be. (regardless of whether its operations, sales, back office)


Growth is far easier with operations that generate predictable and repeatable results. If they are not stable (least waste way of working) we will now exacerbate the effect on our already poor operational processes and performance (ie: Productivity)

Productivity is only one of the key KPI’s within a business, along with On Time Delivery, Quality, Cash, Profit, etc.. each may have a gap that needs to be worked on.

Each KPI (key performance indicator) needs to be monitored, managed and actioned.

The equation y=f(x) is one I always remember

Y: the outcome or outcomes, result or results, that you want

X: the inputs, factors or whatever is necessary to get the outcome (there can be more than one possible x)

F: the function or process that will take the inputs and make them into the desired outcome

Change the X and you change the Y (limit the variation in X we limit the variation in Y)

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