Report: APO International Productivity Showcase and Best Practices Networking Forum on SMEs, December 15-17, 2014, Sri Lanka

Group photo of forum delegates

Group photo of forum delegates

During the past 52 years the APO has organized numerous training programs to spread the productivity movement among SMEs in member economies and accumulated extensive knowledge and abundant content. According to strategic direction 1, APO aims to improve the productivity of the target segments of SMEs and communities.

On the other hand, under strategic direction 2, the organization is meant to catalyze innovation-led productivity growth that will improve the quality and performance of products and services. All NPOs are playing a vital role in promoting productivity among SMEs and they have developed many best practices and role models aimed at this sector. Although the APO serves as clearing house for productivity information and facilitates the dissemination and exchange of informatoin on productivity among members and other stakeholders, there is no properly established platform for sharing those best practices with SMEs and the service sector in member countries. Therefore the proposed project will provide a forum for showcasing best practices among stakeholders and establishing the APO Best Practice Network for dissemination and exchanging information on productivity among member economies.

The 3-day seminar aims to showcase and disseminate best practices in the SME sector for productivity improvement and establish the APO Best Practices Network for benchmarking against success stories among all member countries. At the same time, it is expected to build up strong relationships among SME owners/top managers in member economies and allow them to exchange their experiences in productivity movement activities and challenges faced. It also aims to enhance APO visibility by attracting more local SME owners.


My objectives and expectations in participating in this forum are: 1) to share our company best practice experience on KM; 2) to learn and benchmark from the experiences of other member countries on productivity improvement and best practice showcases; 3) to see Sri Lanka and get to know its people and culture; 4) to share and apply my learning to our company and other SMEs; 5) that the participants’ sharing and exchange of information on productivity and best practices will continue even after the forum with our active linkages thru communication.


There are 24 total participants of the forum from 15 Asian countries namely Bangladesh (2), Cambodia, Fiji, Iran, Sri Lanka (6), India (2), Republic of Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal (2), Pakistan (2), Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam. Two resource speakers are from Malaysia and India.


The forum covered:

How the use of productivity tools like 5S, Kaizen, Lean Manufacturing, Green Productivity, has enabled SMEs in various types and levels of business achieve competitiveness, growth and sustainability. Best practice showcases include from a simple Kaizen of installing speakers in work places for better communication and 5S practices to restructuring/reengineering, innovation and KM. Highlighted also were the tangible benefits like reduction in costs, productivity and sales improvement ratios as well as intangible benefits like improved employee morale and company image. All have embarked on the productivity journey and the people or the whole organization, not only top management, was engged in the improvement process.

Each country representative showcased his/her chosen best practice subject. Some topics include layout improvement, chain management, technology upgrade, KM, participation in trade exhibits, products innovation and Green Productivity. Before and after improvements were cited. Benefits (financial/non-financial) and challenges were reported. People engagement and commitment of top management in the change process were common to many. Likewise, the support and contributions of the NPOs/APO were also mentioned and recognized.

Presenters started their report with the country introduction and company profile. The step by step successful application of productivity programs or the best practices in each business were explained. The reports were supported with photos of before and after Kaizen and others showed some video clips. Each was given 15 minutes to present the best practice report. Immediately after each presenter, questions and comments from the audience followed. There were lectures at the beginning and at the end of the country presentations by the resource speakers on “The importance of Best Practice Benchmarking”.


My learnings are:

– Lean Manufacturing and 5S are basic productivity tools that when applied in business can make a difference
– Investing in people
– Beautification of the environment more than cleanliness
– More than housekeeping are health, safety and environment
– Government active support in promoting productivity among SMEs e.g. Kaizen entrepreneurs project in Sri Lanka
– Social entrepreneurship like the practice of Fiji (involvement of women in the community)
– Business need analysis: KSA (knowledge, skills, attitude)
– Profit sharing among employees (5% of annual profit) like in Pakistan
– Benchmark – specific measurements that state the best level of performance e.g. Employee Satisfaction Rating
– Interest rate in Korea for SMEs is extremely low at 2.5% while in Sri Lanka and other countries are too high
– Enablers for Emerging Economy: be more productive in “what you do”, be more innovative in “how you do”, benchmark “your performance”


– The forum participants agreed to start with creating a Facebook Page to serve as venue for exchange of communications
– The Best Practice presentations will be uploaded in APO website for accessibility by member countries
– Continue the link and networking among the participants, resource persons to share the good/best practices and knowledge in productivity improvement
– Share or echo the knowledge gained in the forum to my company and to the NPO/DAP sponsored activity


Vice- President
Moonbake, Incorporated
Email: mbi .ardm @gmail .com


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