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Just the tool for NZ's fluctuating productivity

Just the tool for New Zealand's fluctuating productivity

New Zealand has a challenge. Currently we sit among the bottom 25% of all OECD countries for productivity.

The common reaction to low productivity is to work more hours. New Zealand has embraced this concept and we now work some of the longest hours in the developed world. The result however is not increased productivity, rather less time spent with families, increased levels of work related stress, and a generally unhappy workforce.

But Voco, an independent telecommunications and interaction optimisation agency, believes investment in a sound Service Management strategy could be an answer to improving productivity across all areas of business.

In the late 1970's/ early 1980's New Zealand dropped significantly in its OECD GDP per hour worked ranking. (GDP per hour is a common measurement to gauge productivity levels.) Since then we have clawed our way back, but still rank in the lowest 25%.

"While the Government has a number of initiatives to curb this trend, we need to think outside the '70/80 hour a week box' and improve core business functions if we are to get out of the lower quartile," says Voco's Brendan Renall,.

On top of the productivity issue is the current skills shortage facing New Zealand, as well as most other developed countries. With a lack of good workers to fill jobs in key industries, New Zealand is facing growth stagnation as we get lost in the slipstream of other countries.

The HR industry has risen to the challenge with innovative staff retention schemes, flexible working hours and creative thinking, to help keep the good staff we have. However, our ability to attract overseas skilled immigrants remains limited, partially by the very problem immigration is trying to solve - less attractive working conditions, lower pay and high tax rates.

In this climate, Brendan Renall says the ICT industry has its part to play and can make considerable efficiencies with the right planning and investments. ICT investment is often viewed as buying new technical equipment. While this may be a sound investment, it actually provides very little direct benefit to the business and the outcomes would not be considered strategic assets.

Investment in a sound Service Management Strategy and an achievable implementation plan should never be under estimated, stresses Brendan Renall. . Keeping ICT on the front foot instead of 'fighting fires' is slowly becoming recognised as a prudent investment. This is done by building better service support processes, improving network monitoring capabilities and investing in a robust service delivery framework, with knowledgeable staff and practical usable processes.

The challenge is that these investments are often difficult to justify and build a solid business case around. Identifying the tangible dollar benefits can be difficult without the right advice and guidance according to Mr Renall, who believes ICT leaders must lead the way and be better able to identify the more intangible benefits an investment in Service Management can bring.

He says with organisations needing services that meet outcomes to fulfil their roles in an efficient way, services need to be more and more integrated. Ever increasing security requirements, complex network configurations to enable quality of service and security policy enforcement, and the increasing battle against both internal and external threats, means a solid Service Management Strategy with short and long term goals is essential for any organisation in New Zealand to stay on top.

To many, the thought of a Service Management Strategy and implementation, (viewed as a strategic asset), is frightening. But Voco believes it is the way for organisations to break through the barrier and look forward to a more productive future.


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