It’s essential to measure productivity appropriately. In-house HTM departments and vendor service providers seeking to raise their competitiveness will invest in methods to track their efficiencies from a service management and delivery perspective. Benchmarking software tools, outside consultants – experts in cost accounting and statistics – have heavily influenced the metrics that may be used as reference points. Most often the focus is on statistical productivity indexes that often have a varied pool of data. It is important to know how it was acquired and its concise method of measure. All too often, the data introduced, and its method of acquisition, vary and ignore the real every day challenges in-house HTM departments and vendor service organizations face in the clinical environment.
Productivity measurement should focus on overall capabilities, not just on one set of parameters. How efficient is the in-house HTM department or vendor service organization in receiving and triaging service calls? Response times back to the clinical customer by phone or arriving at the site ready to assess a service event situation are important. The time involved in bringing remediation to a service event many times is not only comprised of actual on-site labor performance but also includes research required in aiding the task of solution as well as close-out event recording in the CMMS database. That’s what a productivity index should address. It is, as much as possible, a relationship between many physical inputs and their required outputs.
Still, much of the “measuring of productivity” remains preoccupied with direct labor. At the national level, productivity figures do mean labor productivity. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the primary source of productivity information, logically enough focuses on labor productivity. Cost accounting also reinforces this bias. Perhaps the most important use of HTM service productivity measurement is as an objective source of information about long-term operating trends. Productivity comparisons can also inspire the useful exchange of ideas.
Differences in the amount of vertical integration, subcontracting, accounting policies, and many other factors often obscure the relative productivity measure of an HTM service provider’s functions – this is true for both in-house and vendor service providers. Nonetheless, if an HTM service model finds itself a lot less productive than a competitor, it probably has a real valuation problem. HTM managers may insist that the productivity gap is overstated, and they may be right. They will be hard-pressed, however, to argue that it does not exist and defend the value of their HTM program’s competitiveness or, perhaps, their long-term existence as the preferred provider of choice!
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