Employers have always put a premium on productivity. New ideas and methodologies are constantly being developed to boost the output of workers without putting too much strain on them. From open floor plans to four-day work weeks, companies have tried a lot of different strategies-with varying levels of success.
The better strategy? Start with data. Metrics matter not just for sales, marketing, and operations, but for how you optimize your team’s output. Consider these six ways you can use data to increase productivity in your office:
1. Put It All In The Same Place
Cross-referencing metrics is tough when they’re scattered all over the place. How are you going to check hours worked against projects completed if your timeclock tool doesn’t integrate with your project management platform?
Getting data all in one place requires a process known as ETL, short for “Extract, Transform, Load.” The best ETL tools extract and compile disparate metrics, helping leaders get a holistic view of their operations.
Think of ETL like an X-ray of your business, giving you an inside look at exactly where bottlenecks are. Examining deep relationships between metrics makes it possible to find ways to increase overall productivity. Otherwise, you’re just making changes blindly.
2. Stop Worrying About Hours-Focus On Output Figures
Businesses have long measured their employees’ productivity according to the number of hours they put in each week. Team members get compensated for the amount of time they’re on the clock, and they’re expected to work nonstop during those hours.
But counting hours is, in many cases, an inefficient and outdated way to measure productivity. Let’s face it: People waste a lot of time when they’re on the clock. Metrics based on output are a more effective way to judge whether an employee is actually being productive.
For example, two employees could be completing the same number of tasks each day. If one takes eight hours and the other only needs six, the second is more productive. If their output is right where it should be, there’s no need to worry about the number of hours they’re logging.
3. Let Data Point You To Productivity-Enhancing Tools
Productivity isn’t solely dependent on the individual. The tools people have at their disposal play a huge role as well. For example, construction workers will be able to demolish old pavement and build a new highway a lot faster with heavy-duty equipment than with pickaxes and shovels.
Unfortunately, the solution isn’t always so clear at knowledge-based businesses. Instead, use data to point you in the right direction. If customers complain about long hold times but your customer service reps are already working at full tilt, perhaps it’s time to invest in a better CRM.
Take a “slowest hiker” approach. You can spend a lot of money trying to improve everything at once, but in reality, you only need to strengthen the weakest links. Use data to concentrate your efforts in areas with the greatest potential to boost productivity.
4. Guide Company Growth With Data
When you’re working to grow your revenue, what do you do? Double down on sales, right?
Don’t be so quick to assume scaling your client base is the answer. Perhaps your production team is struggling to serve your existing volume of clients, resulting in costly churn. In that case, the better answer might be to focus on retention. A time management training session for your account team could make all the difference.
Monitoring metrics like churn is critical for scaling your company sustainably. But data can also help you make client-specific decisions. If you look at the numbers, you might see that some of your customers aren’t as profitable as you’d like. Rather than onboarding more clients, consider replacing finicky ones with those that make the process easy on your team.
5. Modernize Sales And Marketing
At the heart of every company lies a sales and marketing plan. This is how businesses attract customers and generate revenue. Without one, there’s no hope for survival.
Sales and marketing doesn’t have to consist of cold calls and traditional ad campaigns. You can and should be using data to find out what messages are reaching-and resonating with-your target audience.
Use metrics like click-through rate and conversions to see how customers are responding to different ads and sales approaches. By seeing what works and what doesn’t, you’ll be able to bring in new customers more efficiently. Your campaigns will become more effective, and your sales and marketing teams will be more productive because of it.
6. Leverage Time Analytics
Whole-company and employee productivity leave out a critical part of the equation: you. You can improve your personal productivity through time analytics.
Track how you use your time each day. After a week or so, step back and break your schedule apart. Take note of trends: Are you spending too much time in meetings? Is social media taking up more of your time than it should? Data can show you where you need to improve.
As you reduce the hours you spend on Twitter and increase those you spend reaching out to prospects, compare your time analytics to other metrics. Do you see a corresponding rise in sales? Comparisons validate your efforts with hard evidence.
Data gets more important by the day. Use metrics to reveal where your productivity has the most room to grow. Getting more done feels good with less work, doesn’t it?
originally posted on forbes.com by John Hall
About Author: John Hall is the co-founder and president of Calendar, a scheduling and time management app. He’s also the strategic adviser for Relevance, a company that helps brands differentiate themselves and lead their industry online.