Improving public service productivity

22nd March 2019 / BY / IN Productivity

The headline challenge for public services today is the challenge to do more with less – to meet rising demand with fewer resources.  Whether it’s seen as the proper response to Government deficit and debt in the taxpayer’s interest or unnecessary austerity driven by political dogma, it’s what the public sector is doing.

‘More with less’ is an output/input relationship – in other words, productivity.

Typically, that means gross value added (GVA) per capita.  The commonly-used example of value added is the diamond cutter, whose highly-skilled but relatively modestly-priced effort turns the valuable uncut stone into the extremely valuable finished jewel – value added in a way that’s easy to understand.

So, what about productivity measures in public services? 

Well, the diamond cutter example is often used because it’s simple to understand and easy to measure.  It’s not always as straightforward in public services.  Not all value can be expressed as monetary value.  And there many who would argue that the true value of public services is not monetary.  But there are lots of ways to measure and understand productivity (output/input) in public services – assessments per person per day, repairs per person per day and so on.

So, is productivity measured and understood widely in public services?

If it’s the headline challenge today, surely it must be.  Well, there are good examples, particularly in the NHS.  But many public services do not have productivity measures that are used to measure, understand and manage productivity proactively.  Some services facing big productivity challenges have no productivity measures at all.

Asked, at a panel session about productivity at the 2017 Northern Powerhouse annual conference, “Why aren’t we productive?”, Chris Ball of the Shaw Trust said that, in the UK “We tend to introduce processes and then don’t train the people – we muddle through.  Our approach to learning is to do the least possible.”   If that sounds familiar, here’s some good news.  You have good potential for productivity improvements.

Just by measuring productivity, teams and managers will begin the process of understanding that sort of potential and making the changes they need to realise it.

Here’s one Mondrem client’s results from taking that first step to measure, understand and manage productivity.

“For the last 12 years, we’ve run a backlog …  Whereas now, we’ve run from June of last year to the present with no backlog.  And that includes Christmas, which is always a problematic period.  This is very positive and offers us stability.”

To find out more about how Mondrem can help you meet the challenge to do more with less by understanding and managing productivity, contact us.

Mike Astbury

Director, Mondrem

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