The Future of Productivity

Regardless of whether you own a small business or a corporate company, productivity is the fuel that is necessary for your organization to grow and prosper.

Which factors affect Enterprise productivity?

  • Standardization of processes can help improve productivity and quality (KanBo Templates are a great solution for the standardization process, read how it works here).
  • Searching for lost items can waste time and have a negative effect on productivity (read more about how effectively is Search in KanBo here).
  • New workers take time to settle and generally have lower productivity than experienced workers. Growing companies may face productivity lag due to new workers.
  • The shortage of technical workers reduces the company’s ability to build a strong IT infrastructure and update its computing resources to gain new opportunities.
  • Workspace Design also has an impact on workers’ productivity. An inspiring and organized workspace will keep workers’ motivated.

Read on to find out how productivity works and how you can manage it the right way to guide your business to success.

Defining Productivity

Any discussion on productivity is incomplete without putting some meaning behind the popular term. Productivity is defined as the ratio between the volume of outputs and the volume of inputs. In simpler terms, this formula is used to measure the efficiency with which input factors such as capital and labor are used to produce the given output.

Productivity is also used in a much bigger scope as an indicator of economic growth and performance. The OECD Compendium of Productivity releases internationally comparable indicators to measure productivity trends in OECD countries. These trends provide insights into topics such as the role of labor and capital in economic growth, how productivity is connected to international competitiveness, the link between productivity and wages, and much more.

Productivity may be a simple concept, but it has far-reaching consequences. Research into productivity trends reveals its true importance and impact on the economy and every facet of our lives.

Productivity defines the effectiveness with which input factors are utilized to produce the given outcomes.

What is Productivity in Enterprise?

High productivity simply means that the enterprise is making the best and more effective use of organization resources. As we have mentioned before, productivity can measure how effectively your organization is using its different resources. In an organization, no matter how large or small it is, some inputs such as the labor, materials, and capital generate some kind of output. The primary job of a manager is to maximize the output without increasing the input.

Here is a simple formula for productivity:

Productivity = Output/Input

For organizations that focus on a low-cost strategy, productivity is even more critical. As you can see from the formula above, increasing the level of productivity is all about getting more output from the least amount of input. This leads to lower costs and investments to achieve better results.

Productivity ratios can be calculated at different levels including:

  • single operation,
  • a department,
  • an organization,
  • or an entire country.

These productivity ratios are highly important at all levels. For a business, they can be used for planning workforce requirements, financial analysis, scheduling equipment, and many other critical tasks. It also determines the competitiveness of a company. For a non-profit organization, maximizing productivity can decreases costs.

Productivity can also highlight the economic state of different countries. By calculating productivity growth, countries can keep track of the level of inflation and standard of living. An increase in productivity adds value to the economy and ensures a low level of inflation to improve the quality of life for its people.

Productivity measures are used to gauge the performance of individuals, departments, organizations, or even entire countries.

Calculating Productivity in Enterprise

Productivity in Enterprise can be measured on many different bases. The organization can measure productivity on:

  • A single input (partial productivity),
  • More than one input (multifactor productivity),
  • All inputs (total productivity).

Productivity measures can be used according to your unique requirements. If you wish to figure out the productivity for a single factor, partial measures may be of use to you. For example, if you want to track labor productivity, labor will be your input measure of choice. Partial measures are useful for operations management.

You can also measure multifactor productivity by adding two or more inputs in the productivity formula. For a more comprehensive overview, you can measure the productivity level for all your inputs.  In this way, by varying your inputs, you can easily measure the productivity achieved at different levels of the organization.

Importance of Productivity

Continuous Improvement with Productivity

Productivity measures can provide useful insights at multiple levels. These measures can be used to ease the tracking of performance in individual departments or organizations. By studying the productivity patterns, managers can monitor performance and improve it through problem-solving. For example, if a department’s productivity takes a hit, operations managers can get to the underlying factors and improve overall productivity in the future (ready to use KanBo Kaizen template for Continous Improvement is here).

Productivity brings Competitiveness

Productivity is closely related to the competitiveness which is a concern for business leaders all over the world. If two businesses have the same level of output but one business used less input to achieve the same result due to better productivity, the latter will be able to charge a lower price or maximize profits by reducing the costs of input. To stay competitive in the market, businesses have to maximize their productivity levels.

Productivity Improves Standard of Living

National productivity is a huge concern for governments as it is related to the quality of life of its people. Countries with a high level of productivity enjoy high standards of living. If the increase in the price of goods and labor wages is not paired with productivity increases, the economy may succumb to inflation.

Factors affecting Productivity

Many factors may affect the productivity of an organization. One useful measure is known as the process yield. This is important in areas where products are involved. Process yield is the ratio between the output i.e. good non-defective product and the number of raw materials used.

When it comes to services, the process yield measurement depends on particular processes. However, measuring service productivity can be more difficult than measuring manufacturing productivity. Since it involves intellectual activities, it is much harder to quantify.

Here’s an overview of some factors that affect productivity:

  • Standardization of processes can help improve productivity and quality.
  • Searching for lost items can waste time and have a negative effect on productivity.
  • New workers take time to settle and generally have lower productivity than experienced workers. Growing companies may face productivity lag due to new workers.
  • The shortage of technical workers reduces the company’s ability to build a strong IT infrastructure and update its computing resources to gain new opportunities.
  • Workspace Design also has an impact on workers’ productivity. An inspiring and organized workspace will keep workers’ motivated.

Improving Productivity with KanBo

KanBo focuses on helping businesses monitor and manage their productivity to reap the best results. In KanBo, organizations and departments can take many steps to improve productivity for the better.

1. Developing Productivity Measures for all Operations

One cannot manage or control operations without measurement. This is where KanBo’s analytics feature steps in. The KanBo platform comes with an extensive analytical system that measures activities on different levels. This measurement is a necessary step that needs to be taken before implementing any processes for improvement.

KanBo allows you to utilize standard indicators such as tasks that are known as cards in KanBo. Here are some of the useful insights you can gather from KanBo cards or tasks:

  • Cards progress overview

KanBo takes the statuses of the cards and displays an apportionment of Cards by roles attached to them. This essentially helps managers keep track of the progress of each task (read more about progress and statuses here).

  • Useful Insights

Through monitoring cards, you can derive useful insights such as how many days are left to complete each card, how many cards are due, what’s the progress of each card and what’s the activity index in the board (more information about insights and filters are here).

  • Cumulative flow diagram

The cumulative flow diagram displays cards’ distribution according to statuses or lists along with their various stages for the last 30 days in a board.

  • Activities diagram

This diagram displays the number of activities each day for the last 30 days in a board.

  • Cycle time histogram

This diagram displays dependence against days to complete a card and allows you to see how much time it takes to complete given work items or tasks. The cycle time histogram shows these dependencies for the last 14 days.

You can also build charts based on KanBo’s information sets to meet your unique business needs (more about diagrams and KanBo analytics are here).

2. Get a Multi-Level overview of the Organization

Managers need to look at the system as a whole while deciding which operations are most critical. For this, you need accurate information from multiple levels in an organization. This helps you understand which operations are crucial and what measures should be taken to improve overall productivity.

KanBo’s platform provides a variety of interconnected tool sets to manage all possible information flows around work on all levels within organizations. Managers can utilize these tool sets to implement initiatives that will have a much better impact because they will reach the people where they work as of the moment. Here the different tool sets of KanBo to manage information flows:

  • Collaboration gives meaning to work processes and sparks ideas to motivates and empower individuals.
  • Coordination to keep you updated on current goals, identify problems early, operate in perfect harmony, and enjoy a 360-degree view of your business.
  • Work Styles that help you adjust projects and process to changes using the right methodologies to match project type and preferred work style.
  • Planning that helps deliver results faster and reduces overhead by combining planning and execution with great efficiency.
  • Analytics allows you to make informed business decisions with real-time insights on your valuable data.

3. Developing methods for Productivity Improvement

Once you have collected all the information that can help you improve productivity, the next step is to build and develop mechanisms for improving productivity within your organization. This may involve soliciting ideas from workers, studying how competitors or other departments achieve high productivity, or reexamining the way you work.

KanBo simplifies this process and allows you to make significant improvements in business processes and teamwork directly through the KanBo boards or Board Templates. The mechanisms that are built-in with the creation of templates in KanBo allow you to:

  • Create templates for Boards with complete processes maps, tasks, and documents to share them with teams and ensure that they don’t start from scratch.
  • Edit and make improvements to existing templates and then update existing processes to the latest version.
  • Work out the best solution by bringing together experts from multiple departments who can work together to come up with a template that will help your organization.

Learn more about KanBo’s board templates here.

4. Establish Reasonable Goals for Improvement

After you set some reasonable targets to improve productivity, it is important to make them available to individuals and teams involved. KanBo allows you to do all that and more through:

  • Business Roadmap Board: At the strategy level, you can use the Business Roadmap Board where one of the key objectives for the organization will be to improve productivity. Learn how to use the Business roadmap board in KanBo here.
  • Board General Info: This is the board where a productivity improvement goal can be introduced as one of the elements in the project objective description. Learn more about how to utilize it here.
  • List descriptions: You can use this simple KanBo board to update your team with the new improvements. Simply enter the target for improving productivity in the description of the list as a process step. Learn more about how it works here.

5. Support the Improvements

Management needs to express their support, encouragement for productivity improvement and demonstrate their involvement by using KanBo on their own to motivate employees. This can involve incentives for workers for their valuable contributions. In KanBo, the support and involvement of management are completely transparent and visible for all to see. Through the board, card, and individual activity streams, employees can see how management reacts to improvements and what part it plays in the process.

6. Measure and Publicize improvements

Once you have implemented the improvements, it is time to measure and publicize the results. This is where productivity measures come into play. Multifactor productivity is at the core of KanBo. As mentioned before, multifactor productivity allows organizations to calculate the productivity that results from two or more inputs.

Any changes in multi-factor productivity may be due to:

  • Changes in management practices,
  • Changes in the organization
  • Effects of network
  • Production factors spillover
  • Adjustment costs
  • Economies of scale
  • Measurement errors and imperfect competition.

How KanBo Improves Productivity at Multiple Levels

KanBo’s ultimate aim is to help organizations reach their goals. By implementing KanBo to the organization, you can introduce a system that enables operational management, strategy implementation, the definition of objectives, and operational activities. KanBo provides effective implementation at multiple levels of the organization including:

  1. Personal Productivity
  2. Team or Department Productivity
  3. Enterprise Productivity (read more about Goals and Objectives in Large Organizations in this article)

Whether you have a hierarchal structure or a flat one, KanBo makes all your initiatives visible in one place.

1. Personal Productivity

A team is made of many small parts and the personal productivity of each individual in the team affects the overall productivity of the team and the organization at large. Personal productivity is also a component of the multifactor productivity measure. While there are countless ways to improve personal productivity, KanBo makes it much easier with its intuitive and comprehensive interface (more about personal productivity and personal kanban are here).

Here are some general rules paired with KanBo’s effective solutions to boost personal productivity:

  • Take regular breaks. Give you mind a break after regular intervals to prepare it for laser-sharp focus for every task you do.
  • Eat the frog. In the iconic words of Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”
  • Learn to single-task. No matter what you may believe, the human brain is not adept at multi-tasking. Focus on one task at a time to avoid the pressure of multitasking – endorse monotasking.
  • Use To-Do Lists for Planning. It is ideal to know what’s in store before you jump into a workday. To-do lists help you plan ahead. In KanBo, you can enjoy this feature in your MyBoard area.
  • Make the most of your commute. For many people, the work commute is quite long and is often spent unproductively. You can make use of this time to plan for the day ahead. KanBo’s remote and full-time access helps you plan on the go.
  • Get organized. According to science, people with messy workspaces tend to be more frustrated than ones who have an organized space. Keep your surroundings organized to clear your head and focus on the tasks at hand.
  • Eliminate distractions for Increased Focus. Social media can be a bad distraction for the modern workforce. Eliminate all distractions to improve your focus on work.
  • Try a Not-to-do list. A to-do list may tell you what to do but we often end up filling it up to the brim with tasks that do not require our immediate attention. KanBo introduces the Eisenhower template so you can prioritize tasks according to their urgency and importance.
  • Get Good Sleep. Getting seven to nine hours of sleep is the only way to refresh your brain and prepare it for the workday ahead.
  • Use the Personal Kanban. The personal Kanban is a personalized version of the popular Kanban method. KanBo emphasizes the value of personal productivity as the key elements for a successful organization. The organization is an amalgamation of individual actions that impact the whole. In KanBo, personal productivity is handled in an area known as the MyBoard. The MyBoard area collects all the tasks and initiatives that are associated with a certain user. This allows each individual to plan their workday according to their work style and helps them prioritize tasks and prevent task overload.

2. Team or Department Productivity

A team is more than just a machine. It is the sum of its parts and the parts are people. This makes a team much like an organism that thinks, solves problems, achieves goals, and grows. Teamwork is what keeps it going and productive work is a result of good teamwork. Whether it be a self-organizing team or a single leader team, some rules can help teams achieve smooth operation. These rules can easily become a part of the KanBo’s ecosystem as you work and collaborate.

Some of the principles to improve teamwork include:

  • Good work environment

A good work environment can act as a catalyst for growth. It also has an impact on the team’s efficiency and productivity. KanBo’s platform allows you to realize tasks and implement improvements to build a healthy and high-functioning work environment.

  • Goal Setting

Without a clearly defined goal, a team will lose its direction. Goals are the basis of a team and its smooth operation. You can set goals in KanBo by filling in the Board general information. This allows each member of the team to ensure that their actions contribute to the achievement of the end-goal.

  • Clarify expectations

Teams flourish on transparency and clarity. Any kind of confusion can be cleared by defining clear expectations. With KanBo, you can asynchronously introduce clarifications or explanations to each task as a separate context in the form of comments or mentions. It is context-based work that improves productivity.

  • Encourage Open Communication

Open communication is built into KanBo’s DNA. Every employee using the platform can add a comment or remark in a situation they consider appropriate. Much like in the LEAN model where you can stop a defect on the production line, in KanBo you can give feedback at any given time.

  • Give Teams Members Autonomy

Individuals in a team also deserve a certain level of autonomy. Depending on your organizational culture, you can implement autonomy in KanBo in different ways. KanBo makes room for autonomy by promoting freedom of expression through comments and mentions in boards.

  • Rethink meetings – work asynchronously!

Teams often spend long amounts of time in unnecessary meetings. KanBo makes such unproductive meetings obsolete by increasing work visibility. Working asynchronously in KanBo is faster, more efficient, and highly productive (how Various Departments in Enterprise can work more productive is here).

3. Enterprise Productivity

Previously, we defined productivity as, “A measure of the effective use of resources.” KanBo is built on the concept of effective resource utilization that results in a higher level of organizational productivity. When it comes to the entire enterprise, what does effective use of resources mean? In our opinion, the effective use of resources is the effective use of employee’s intellectual potential.

The productivity of an organization depends heavily on the productivity and potential of its employees. This includes how the organization is utilizing the intellectual abilities of its employees effectively to get the best results. Here are some useful tips to improve productivity in the context of intellectual work:

  • Beyond Direct Labor

Focusing too much on direct labor can have some unexpected consequences. Management of productivity should focus more on overall capabilities instead of the one set of costs.

  • View through a Multi-Factor Lens

Use a multi-factor perspective for effective productivity measurement. This is an index that helps you identify contributions from each factor of production.

  • Don’t Compromise on Function

A multi-factor index can help managers answer questions about the performance of the organization. However, this index is only useful if the management and workers can understand it. This may require certain compromises when it comes to mathematical accuracy.

  • Measuring the Difficult aspects

It can be challenging to measure the unmeasurable and present it in a comprehensible manner for managers and workers to understand.

  • Make Fair Comparisons

Don’t use productivity indexes to compare apples to oranges. The results of such comparisons may influence important decisions such as investment choices, factory closings, and decisions about compensation. Managers must be careful about making unfair comparisons that may have a negative effect on the organization.

  • Do Not be Discouraged

Productivity measurement can be complex and filled with ambiguities. However, managers should proceed with care instead of being discouraged as the system is highly useful when used the right way.

Measuring KanBo’s Impact on Productivity

KanBo combines all you need to be more productive into a single platform to align your strategy, resources, and work. In addition to the previously cited examples showing the use of individual KanBo functionalities to increase productivity, calculations can be carried out to determine KanBo’s true impact on the productivity of a company.

The emphasis here is on the concept of multi-factor productivity because KanBo’s implementation is not bound to one area. It can have an impact on multiple areas and operations of the business. This means multiple factors have to be taken into account while measuring the improvement and productivity achieved through KanBo.

To aid this process, here are some easy to find indicators to help you calculate productivity while using KanBo:

Eliminating the Need for Internal Emails

Email has become an important part of the communication structure within most organizations. However, this simple and seemingly convenient method of communication may have a bigger cost. Research suggests that reacting to a new email notification takes the average employee around 1 minute 44 seconds. 85% of emails are reacted to within 2 minutes of arrival. Furthermore, the email notification serves as an interruption. This interruption takes employees 64 seconds to recover from so they can finally return to actual work.

While they may seem like a small amount of time, this value adds up quickly as you receive countless emails in the day. KanBo has a clear impact on this area of communication by eliminating the need for internal emails. KanBo focuses on asynchronous work that is always in the context of the goal, project, or task. All the information you need to complete a task is already present in the card itself. This eliminates the need for sending unnecessary emails to provide out of context information. KanBo’s asynchronous, contextual approach greatly increases overall productivity.

Search and Find Right Information at the Right Time

Searching for lost or misplaced information can result in major overheads that affect productivity.

According to a report by IDC:

“Information workers spend 9.4 hours a week dealing with challenges related to document creation and management. At least 4.9 hours of this is wasted time.”  (source)

Research suggests that you may be wasting over 4 hours a week on document creation and management which lowers your productivity.

This may already seem like a lot of time wasted. Unfortunately, this is only a small part of the bigger picture which includes waiting time and time spent searching for other information. It is difficult to say how much time is actually wasted on these activities.

Searching in KanBo is made each through the Search capability that shows results based on algorithms and user behavior. The results of the search are as relevant as possible to give users the right information at the right time. The KanBo search functionality is based on its own search engine and the search engine built into SharePoint/Office365. KanBo compiles the search results into one easy to understand result page, which consists of 6 sections:

  • Cards
  • Comments
  • Documents
  • Boards
  • Board collections
  • Users

Learn more about how KanBo Search works.

Improving Coordination

As we mentioned before, new workers are prone to lower productivity that may hold your company back. These productivity lags are solved in KanBo through advanced coordination features. Some of the important KanBo features that help in this regard include:

  • Board – Know where you stand

KanBo’s Board presents a digital representation of an area of work, specially built to visualize workflows intuitively. Effortlessly maintain a comprehensive view of portfolios, projects, processes, or departments as you speed through work stages with great ease and efficiency.

  • Card Relations and Task Relations – Connect work across KanBo Boards for effective execution

Complex work involves ever-evolving work items and processes that are prone to losing visibility fast. As complex work is broken down into smaller work items, the responsibility for execution is divided between teams and departments with their own boards. With KanBo Card Relations, you can link cards across different boards to build a powerful relational network to keep your work items connected.

  • Timeline – Take control of time.

May it be upcoming deadlines and events or past dates, you can keep track of all work-related dates with KanBo’s powerful Timeline feature. The Timeline borrows dates from KanBo cards, your Outlook and maps them as dots on an interactive line that represents time.

  • Card Status or Work statuses – Defining your representation of progress.

KanBo’s Card Status allows you to create personalized stages to suit your team’s understanding of workflow. Card statuses and their relations can be created within any KanBo Board for a simple yet effective progress representation.

  • Card Dates and Reminders – KanBo remembers so you don’t have to.

Each card contains its own preset of reminders. Users can extend these by adding custom reminders to notify the team about upcoming deadlines before they pass them by. Just by following the relevant cards, you can get notifications about the approaching deadlines and reminders associated with it.


Productivity is an integral factor in an organization’s success. While there are countless ways to monitor and improve productivity, organizations have to think ahead and implement measures that are fit for the rapidly changing world of today.

KanBo is a modern solution that can introduce your organization to the future of productivity, a future that is fast, asynchronous, and competitive. Prepare for the future now and visit KanBo to learn more about our services.

Do you have questions?

Maybe we have an answer!

If you have any questions regarding the topics we discussed in this blog, go ahead and send them to us.