In addition to operations research, what other tools and techniques are used by organisations to improve productivity?
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Operations research (OR) is a group of tools rather than just one tool. It include the very simple,and age old EOQ formula as well as most complicated linear programming models and simulation models. The very simple technique of demand forecasting using simple average of demands of past few periods is also a part of collection of OR tools. The complete group of tools using networks - such as PERT or CPM based project planning and control also comes under the Umbrella of OR. So large is the variety of OR tools that it may become difficult to identify tools that may not be classified as OR tools. Of course the list of other than OR tools is also very large and it will be a major task to prepare a reasonably complete list. However I am listing below some of the major tools as they come to my mind.
- Work study: This is also a major group of techniques rather than a single technique.
- Management by Objective (MBO)
- AIDA technique for selling. There are many such similar techniques for improving sales effectiveness and productivity.
- GAP analysis used in Services marketing.
- Brainstorming, lateral thinking and other similar techniques to promote innovation.
- Fish-bone diagram
- Financial analysis techniques such as ratios and discounted value: Strictly speaking, being quantitative in nature can also be considered an OR tool.
- Automation of physical operations such as ATM and vending machine.
- Automation of information processing and retrieval.
- Internet based selling and buying.
- Various techniques used for improving logistics productivity such as containerization, and cross docking.
Keeping employees engaged in their work, with a high level of morale, is critical to productivity. Everyone has a different reason for working; money, paid vacation, promotion, prestige - the possibilities are virtually endless. It's up to management to determine what motivates each employee, and then work to insure that motivators are in place for individual employees to help keep them doing their best.
Another opportunity to increase productivity is to set goals for employees and reward them when these goals are reached. The reward doesn't have to be large - human beings are by nature competitive, and working to reach or exceed a goal frequently helps people become more productive.
Human beings aren't the only factor in productivity. Keeping an eye on how raw material is delivered, how materials move through a manufacturing environment, looking for bottlenecks in any given process, all provide opportunities to increase productivity as well. Study the process, improve the process, and restudy the process to see how much improvement in productivity has been gained.
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