Managing Productivity Measurements

At present, there had been numerous productivity measurement techniques used by different groups of people for different purposes and reasons. These techniques had been developed for different applications, too.

There is need, therefore, to combine and unify these differing views and techniques. Basically, this is simply to be able to come up with a better and more comprehensive understanding of the concept of productivity.

However, in discussing productivity, different authors had allocated the use in different ways such terms as “measurement”, “evaluation”, “performance”, “improvement”, and “productivity”. Let us re-introduce them.


Strictly speaking, productivity is interpreted as output divided by input (O/I). This is because it is easily defined, calculated and implemented.

Performance, however, is a broader term than productivity because it includes such factors as quality, customer satisfaction and worker morale. These are not easily quantified.

Their inclusion into the calculations makes them more difficult, makes them fuzzy, and dilutes the clarity of the measurements.


Again, strictly speaking, measurements are numerical indexes. Productivity measurement is one. It is expected that the same inputs should produce the same outputs – a number factor.

One advantage of this is the fact that the index does not depend on who collected the data or when it was collected.

Evaluation and measurement

Measurement is the methodology of establishing the amount of wok involved in a work function. Evaluation is using measurements that are not strictly quantitative. It makes use of such measures as good, bad, poor, superior, fast and others.

The use of qualitative measures makes the manipulation of the data difficult, although it allows the inclusion of previously unmeasured work aspects. It is hoped that the application of fuzzy mathematics to such terms may make them useful someday.

Productivity improvement

This is the change sought, noted, or measured in productivity. It can also refer to the designed change to produce positive changes in the measured productivity. The term also refers to the change in productivity that had resulted from such design change.


Historically, productivity measurement systems are almost always not welcome to managers and workers alike. The strongest objection to measurement of knowledge worker productivity is inaccuracy of the results.

This productivity measurement is very valuable as a dynamic gauge, not a static measure. What this means is that since these inaccuracies are consistent, the dynamic measure will be an accurate indicator of the relative change.

However, managers assume that the exercise is not that important and a useless measure for the simple reason that it is not that accurate.

The expectation of workers is another tall hurdle in implementing productivity measures. In the past, productivity efforts were detailed and highly organized, very structured and well-documented.

Productivity measures of knowledge work are more loosely structured and less accurate than the measures of other types of work. People are always reluctant to accept anything less structured and less accurate.

Suggested solutions

In the past, knowledge work has been exempted from productivity evaluations because of complexity. It also has some costs.

To offset this mindset, authors and experts suggest preparing the work area and the people involved. A big part of managing these productivity programs includes discussions, group participation, and self-evaluation.

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