PSM Results and Benefits

PSM Results

PSM helps identify who is doing necessary as opposed to unnecessary work, and which work processes can be eliminated and which can be combined.  Additionally, PSM helps to identify and highlight the skillsets really needed to satisfy current and future work demands. 

Needless to say, savings not only accrue from the reduction in procedural steps and work process time, but also from the potentially lower number of employees required to perform the same work in less time. Such productivity gains from procedural modification and employee cost reduction can far exceed savings derived from productivity resulting from system change alone. In cases where productivity can be increased to the point that fewer employees are required to do the work that is really necessary, the PSM process minimizes subjectivity in any subsequently undertaken staff reductions.

When employing any of these methodologies, layoffs are neither the objective nor the solution.  It is not a simple matter of identifying who is doing the work vs. who is doing the workarounds.  Parkinson's Law ensures that any time potentially saved by using (and frequently by eliminating) workarounds has long since been filled with other activities.  It is also important to remember that each and every workaround was at one time absolutely required --at least once-- or else no one would have gone through the effort of creating it.

Since workaround tasks are incorporated into the overall work process, a person spending 100% of his or her day on workarounds cannot be fired and the tasks left undone without the entire work process collapsing of its own weight.  Practitioners perform workarounds indistinguishably from any other tasks, except frequently, the workarounds are regarded as more prized functions because they are either seen as shortcuts or else are absolutely necessary to make everything else run on schedule.


PSM Implications

What the presence of significant workarounds does indicate, though, is that at least some necessary work is not being done directly.  This means that either (A) needed work is not being done or is being only partially done, or, (B) if all work is being done, then there are more people involved in the process than necessary if not for the presence of the need for workarounds.

Another way to look at it is that the real productivity improvements come not from retaining the workarounders (who are generally the most effective employees), but instead from reworking the processes to take advantage of technology and simultaneously eliminating the need for workarounds in the first place.  This creates a requirement for more efficient workers because the process itself will have become that much more effective.

Employees performing workarounds are characteristically quite flexible and capable of learning new tasks because over time they inevitably have to adapt the workarounds to new systems and procedures. Does that mean that such persons should be retained and others fired?  Not necessarily.  Only after the nature of the real work to be done is revealed once workaround layers have been shed can the skillsets necessary to do the remaining work be determined.


PSM Side Benefits

Is it possible, then, to perform PSM (or other work process analysis) on a department or a function (such as order processing) and realize productivity improvements that eliminate the need for new systems?  Yes, it's possible, but so is the counter scenario that the resulting increase in productivity will strain existing systems beyond capacity and thus necessitate system change anyway, although perhaps not immediately. 

Fortunately, in such a situation, the organization benefits doubly: first, because the initial phase brought increased productivity and reduced cost without the capital expense of a new system.  Secondly, because the greater work output will demonstrate exactly where (and which) new system capabilities are required to sustain the higher levels of work output and productivity.  Finally, with the slack removed from the system, it will become obvious where system robustness must be enhanced, where redundancy must be implemented, where excess capacity must be planned, where backup plans must be formulated and tested and initiated, etc.

Similarly, where the new workload requirements are beyond the capability of even the current workforce, the analysis can determine those traits and knowledge sets necessary for future productivity, help the organization recruit employees with newly validated academic or technical qualifications or work-related experience, and help the organization better recruit employees for advancement from within employee ranks based upon specific abilities rather than making do with traditional office skills or work experiences.

In fact, perhaps the definition of PSM should be changed from Procedural Strip Mining to Productivity Success Methodology.