How to increase productivity? Change the rule book

26 November, 2019

As part of the ‘ASK: NUS Economics’ series by The Straits Times, Professor Ivan Png (NUS Business School, NUS Department of Economics, and NUS Department of Information Systems and Analytics) writes about the importance of adapting operating procedures for companies to improve productivity amidst changes in customers, technology, organisational size, and workers’ capabilities. As Principal Investigator of the Service Productivity and Innovation Research Programme (SPIRE), a Ministry of Education-funded project on service productivity, Prof Png offers some real-world examples where outdated procedures persist despite their inefficiencies.

For instance, he thought that it was unnecessary for Singapore General Hospital (SGH) to admit him as an inpatient till his blood test results were reviewed by a doctor when SGH could have notified him of his results through instant messaging. Prof Png also brought up the convoluted process of setting up Giro – the consumer completes a form, submits it to his billing organisation, which then sends it to the consumer’s bank for approval. The Development Bank of Singapore (DBS) ended up rejecting 12% of Giro applications due to signature irregularities, which delayed the processing time to two months. Now, DBS sends a text to the customer to confirm the application in the event of signature irregularities, reducing the processing time to seven days.

From these examples, Prof Png emphasised that a quick review of existing procedures would often reveal how to increase productivity; changes to procedures to keep up with the times can raise productivity and please customers more.

Read the article here.