If you aren’t thinking about how to gain competitive advantage through the application of new design and manufacturing strategies, management practices, and savvy investments, you can be sure your competition is. The race is afoot to reduce product development cycle times and costs. Chief areas of focus to scale back cycle times and costs include ramping up professional labor productivity and expediting prototype development. 

Sapience Snalytics, optimization of human capital, people analytics
A new type of analytics platform which promises to spur the next wave of productivity and new levels of human potential: people analytics. (image source: Sapience Analytics)

Many design engineers are familiar with the concept of the product realization process, which is divided into three planes: 1) the physical plane, which consists of tools, infrastructure and physical processes and products, 2) the information plane, and 3) the human plane which lies in between the physical and data planes. It is in the human plane where people provide the cognition, ignition and inspiration to develop products that meet design requirements in the information plane, leveraging resources from the physical plane.  

Over the past few decades, various technologies and innovations have been introduced into both the physical and information planes of the product realization process, but to date, little technology has been applied to amplify human potential in the human plane. This is surprising, considering success hinges on intellectual capability and productivity.  

This is changing thanks to a new type of analytics platform which promises to spur the next wave of productivity and new levels of human potential.   

People Analytics: Giving the Human Plane of Product Realization a Leg Up

For engineering-driven organizations, the workforce can comprise up to 85% of total expenses. Engineers are the core drivers of value, as the engineering effectively is the product. To this end, organizations must be able to objectively evaluate performance on the human plane, to understand where productivity drains exist so they can make necessary changes. Improving productivity by 5, 10 or even 20% can shrink costly prototype and design cycles significantly.   

What’s more, firms must also look to improve employee engagement, which has been shown to translate into greater productivity, improved corporate performance, and greater workforce retention. Engagement is also especially vital to align with the changing nature of the engineering workforce. Today, the default is a heterogenous workforce with “remote gig” workers, and companies are struggling to manage this evolving workplace. 

People analytics offers a valuable tool to find the sources of productivity loss to inform and guide strategies to close this gap, while providing the means to improve engagement – all the while bringing employees under a common performance management platform key to operational visibility.   

Today’s knowledge workers’ tools of the trade are computers – workstations, PCs and mobile devices – and business systems, such as CAD/CAM systems, as well as Microsoft Office applications. Via people analytics, individual’s and work group’s digital output is measured and analyzed to understand productivity trends and traps. Sophisticated software automates the collection of the digital signals that an employee emits and combines them with powerful analytics that equip senior executives with reporting and analysis needed to make better decisions about their workforce (the human plane). 

Employee effort is automatically captured to comprise a 360-degree view on how work happens and the overall utilization and engagement of teams and individual employees.  

The Productivity Imperative: Millions to Be Lost or Gained

Today, most companies are only realizing 60% productivity of workforce capacity. When employee effort is spent on non-value added and non-productive efforts, companies can lose millions in lost productivity.  

There’s a lot at stake, and a lot to be gained by solving this problem. In fact, I would argue there’s a productivity imperative. One extra hour of productive time per user per day can equate to over 25 million more productive labor hours for a large engineering-driven organization. With 25 million labor hours you could build 600 F-35s, 3.5 Empire State buildings, and 60% of an aircraft carrier. What’s more, productivity savings can help organizations be more competitive while balancing rising material costs, price reduction pressures and increasing labor costs. As global competition intensifies, organizations must hone the human plane of product realization, and with people analytics they can. 

Tyler Craig provides expert consultancy at the intersection of business management and technology execution – particularly for companies in the aerospace, travel, manufacturing, and industrial design sectors. Tyler is VP of sales for Sapience Analytics, a company that aims to revolutionize how companies manage their most important asset – their human capital. 

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