Productivity Benchmarking – Survey Results

Measuring productivity of engineers has always been controversial and a perception driven topic.  We at Zinnov designed and executed a survey among US based product companies with global centers in India and China in 2008.  Based on our interviews with several clients we realize the productivity issues continue to be a challenge for most companies.  These issues impede an organization’s ability to innovate and respond to customers faster. The key findings of the survey are listed below:

Perspective of Headquarters on productivity

  • 75% of the executives interviewed feel that the productivity of their global centers are lower than their teams at HQ
  • 40% of the executives feel that the productivity of the global centers are lower than 30% (Global centers are only 70% productive compared to HQ)
  • 35% of the executives feel that their global centers are only 50% productive

Common Reasons for Lower productivity

  • 70% of executives feel that Lack of project ownership is the key reason for lower productivity
  • 60% of the respondents feel that dependence on the HQ teams for decisions and lack of domain expertise among engineers in global centers attribute to lowered productivity
  • 56% of the respondents feel Lack of access to end customer as a reason
  • 50% attribute communication overhead as a reason
  • 30% of the respondents perceive high employee turnover/attrition rate as a another reason

    Key initiatives to Improve productivity

    • 85% of the respondents feel that providing complete product/project ownership to teams will help in improving productivity
    • 50% of the respondents feel that hiring engineers with higher experience (Middle and Senior level technical talent) along with better planning and effective knowledge transfer (KT) mechanisms will increase the productivity
    • 35% of the respondents feel that increasing the travel between teams will help in building trust and relationships (Increase access to technical talent at HQ)
    • 30% of the respondents feel that increasing the duration of stay during travel (3 to 6 months) will have positive impact
    • 20% of the respondents feel that seeding expatriates in global teams along with strong HR leadership will also improve productivity

    Research studies in the past have made several attempts to define an objective methodology to measure the performance and compare the engineers.  However, based on our survey and experience working with clients we realized that frameworks are great theoretically, but the practical challenges involved in implementation are overwhelming and quite often outweigh the benefits that can be derived from the exercise (Will be covered in the next blog)

    Also, Zinnov periodically updates the productivity benchmarks.  Feel free to write to us at to get access to the latest benchmark data.

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