Tools and Techniques for Productivity

Digital transformation may be viewed as continuous improvement of business capabilities. There are many opportunities for SMEs to derive economic benefit from digital transformation. The IoT, big data analytics, AI, blockchains, 3D printing, etc. enable SMEs to create better products and services, innovate business models, reduce time to market, and build more integrated, flexible, responsive supply chains. Digitalization lowers transaction costs, provides easier access to information, and creates a level playing field where SMEs have opportunities to compete against larger firms with more resources. Digitalization also provides SMEs greater access to global markets, and newer cloud-based business models allow them to reach customers from anywhere, any time. Financing and access to global talent through digitalization are two additional opportunities for SMEs.

SMEs account for about 97% of developing Asian economies and 69% of national labor forces. However, according to the ADB report Asia Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Monitor (2020), the GDP contribution of SMEs is only 41%. They could therefore contribute more socioeconomic value through digitalization. However, SMEs encounter challenges due to a lack of awareness, capital, and digital skills. SMEs need digitalization to both survive and thrive. History suggests that crises such as the current pandemic bring out the best from startups and SMEs. SMEs in the grocery, healthcare, beverage, and IT support sectors have had success through digitalization during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This e-course aims to equip SMEs with the necessary digital toolkit comprising skillsets, mindsets, and strategy toolsets along with relevant frameworks and best practices necessary to succeed in the digital transformation journey in the new normal. The course will introduce key digital transformation technologies and discuss case studies illustrating the power of digitalization. It will also explain how digital technologies are relevant, useful, scalable, and economically viable. The course will take a human-centric view, allowing easy adoption of digital technologies in the context of SME operations.

Course Objectives:

The main objectives of this course are:

  • Understand the “why, what, and how” of digital transformation by outlining business benefits and cost-effective implementation approaches enabling large-scale adoption by SMEs.
  • Identify and apply key strategies, tools, frameworks, and factors that support sustainable, scalable, economically viable digitalization of SMEs.
  • Introduce a human-centric view of digital transformation including cultural considerations within organizations which are often missed but needed for driving successful change management initiatives.
  • Facilitate the initiation and sustainability of digitalization in SMEs to enhance productivity.

Course Modules:

This e-learning course will cover the following modules:
Module 1: Introduction to digital transformation
This module covers definitions, drivers, barriers, business impact, and approaches to digital transformation along with successful global case studies.
Module 2: Digital transformation strategies, policies, and frameworks
This module presents strategies, frameworks, and tools participants could use for designing the transformation journey in their organizations.
Module 3: Digital transformation technology toolkit
This module introduces nine key technologies that enable digital transformation along with examples of their use.
Module 4: Human-centric digitalization
This module takes a human-centric view of both management and technology when undertaking sustainable digitalization initiatives.
Module 5: SME digital transformation case studies and best practices
This module takes a deep dive into SME digitalization through case studies, along with “next practices.”

Important Notes:

  1.  Participants who register to take this course and pass the final examination with a score of 70% or higher will be eligible to receive the APO certificate. Please note that the final examination can be taken only once. Therefore, the most appropriate time to take the examination should be chosen carefully. The self-assessment quizzes are for personal evaluation only and are not related to the final examination results.
  2. Participants who perform well in this course and receive the APO certificate will be given preference, on a merit basis, for selection to attend follow-up face-to-face multicountry APO projects on similar topics, when nominated by their NPOs and if slots are available.
  3.  Notes 1 and 2 are applicable only to participants from APO member countries. Participants from nonmember countries are welcome to take the course for self-improvement, although they will not have an opportunity to attend the follow-up face-to-face multicountry APO projects.
  4. Each module is in a prerecorded video format in which the expert delivers presentations by explaining each slide. Participants can access the video by clicking on the link provided under the title of each module.

Course Duration in Hours: 20 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: Yes

Productivity matters because it can drive growth in the quantity and value of national output. This can lead to improved economic growth and sustain the competitiveness of countries in the global market. Recognizing the importance of this, the pursuit of higher productivity has become the main development agenda item of most countries. This requires a pool of practitioners fully equipped with skills, knowledge, and ability to lead productivity improvement initiatives through promotion, consultancy services, and training.

As the leader of the productivity movement in the Asia-Pacific region, the APO has developed many effective programs to enhance the capacity building of NPOs that serve as productivity champions in their countries. The programs known as Development of Productivity Practitioners (DPP): Basic and Advanced have been implemented for more than two decades with the main objective of creating a pool of experts and specialists in productivity improvement at the organizational and national levels.

To expand the coverage of those programs, the APO launched self-e-learning courses to provide a clear understanding of the background of the productivity movement in the Asia-Pacific, fundamental concepts of productivity, and selected tools and techniques for productivity improvement. This course is considered to be a foundation and is necessary preparation before participants take the APO-certified Productivity Practitioners course. The content was developed with support from a technical expert team in the Development Academy of the Philippines (DAP), the NPO of that country and long-term host of the APO multicountry DPP: Basic project. The team is headed by Senior Fellow Carlos A. Sayco, Jr. and APO Honorary Certified Productivity Practitioner and former Director, Graduate School of Public and Development Management, Niña Maria Estudillo, both of the DAP.

Course Instructions

– There are six modules in this course. Please start with Module 1 and complete each module in order.

– The recommended timeline to complete each module is:

Days 1–2: Module 1 + Quiz 1

Days 3–4: Module 2 + Quiz 2

Days 5–6: Module 3 + Quiz 3

Days 7–9: Module 4 + Quiz 4

Days 9–11: Module 5 + Quiz 5

Days 12–13: Module 6 + Quiz 6

Day 14: Final exam

– To confirm your understanding, quizzes are provided in each module. Please answer the questions and check your score for self-evaluation. Please note that the quiz scores are not related to the final exam results.

– It is recommended that you proceed to the next module only after satisfactory completion of the preceding module.

– After completing all modules, each participant should take the final exam. Remember that you are only allowed to take the final exam once. Please ensure that you have thoroughly understood all modules before taking the final exam.

– After completion of the course, the APO will provide e-certificates to successful participants from APO member countries who pass the final exam (minimum passing score is 70% or 70 points). Please also note that only participants who pass the self-e-learning course are eligible to apply for APO Certification Program for Productivity Practitioners.

Course Objectives

The objectives of this course are for participants to acquire and enhance knowledge of the fundamentals of productivity concepts, principles, tools, and techniques. Specifically, at the end of the course, participants will be able to:

  1. Explain productivity concepts and principles;
  2. Describe how to use basic productivity tools and techniques; and
  3. Relate the importance of productivity to innovation and competitiveness.

Important Notes:

1. Participants who register to take this course and pass the final examination with a score of 70% or higher will be eligible to receive the APO certificate. Please note that the final examination can be taken only once. Therefore, you decide when you choose to take the examination. Please note that the self-assessment quizzes are for your own evaluation and have no relation to the final examination results.

2. Participants who perform well in this course and receive the APO certificate will be given preference, on a merit basis, for selection to attend the follow-up face-to-face multicountry APO project on certified productivity practitioners, provided that their nominations are received through their NPOs and slots are available.

3. Notes 1 and 2 are applicable only to participants from APO member countries. Participants from nonmember countries are welcome to take the course for self-improvement, though they will not get an opportunity to attend the follow-up face-to-face multicountry APO projects.


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Course Duration in Hours: 20 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: No

Course Overview

The overall objective of the course is to discuss and explain the significance and ramifications of supply chain resilience in organizations. It is also meant to achieve the following detailed objectives:

  1. Identifying the factors that help build resilience in supply chains;
  2. Explaining the key principles that affect supply chain resilience;
  3. Differentiating between risks and opportunities;
  4. Interpreting the use of various risk-assessment templates;
  5. Discussing various standards associated with supply chain resilience and risk management; and
  6. Outlining the general steps to enhance supply chain resilience.

Course Duration in Hours: 48 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: No

The Self-learning e-Course on Productivity Tools and Techniques (Advanced) is a continuation of the Self-learning e-Course on Productivity Tools and Techniques (Basic) launched earlier by the APO. While the basic e-learning course introduces productivity fundamentals, this course provides knowledge on selected advanced productivity improvement tools and techniques such as measurement techniques, statistical data analysis, lean concepts, and the business excellence framework. Therefore, participants who have completed the basic course are encouraged to enroll in the advanced course. In addition, this is a prerequisite course for participants from APO member countries before attending multicountry face-to-face courses on similar topics.

The content was developed with support from a technical expert team of the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC). The faculty comprises Senior Manager Shuhaimi Hamad, Manager Saliza Saari, Senior Consultant Mohd. Hilmi Idris, and Associate Consultant Shaharum Ashaari, all of the MPC.

Course Instructions

– There are five modules in this course. Please start with Module 1 and complete each module in order.

– The recommended timeline to complete each module is:

Days 1–2: Module 1

Days 3–4: Module 2 + Quizzes 1 + 2

Days 5–6: Module 3

Days 7–9: Module 4 + Quizzes 3 + 4

Days 9–11: Module 5 + Quiz 5

Day 11: Final exam

– To confirm your understanding, quizzes are provided on each module. Please answer the questions and check your score for self-evaluation. Please note that the quiz scores are not related to the final exam results.

– It is recommended that you proceed to the next module only after satisfactory completion of the preceding module.

– After completing all modules, each participant should take the final exam (40 multiple-choice questions). Remember that you are only allowed to take the final exam ONCE. Please ensure that you have thoroughly understood all modules before taking the final exam.

– After completion of the course, the APO will provide e-certificates to successful participants from APO member countries who pass the final exam (minimum passing score is 70% or 70 points). Please also note that only participants who pass the self-e-learning course are eligible to apply for the APO Certification Program for Productivity Practitioners.

Course Objectives

The objective of this course is to enable participants to understand the concepts and methodology of advanced productivity tools and techniques. Specifically, at the end of the course, participants will be able to describe, explain, and use the techniques and tools learned within their organizations and in offering consultancy services, especially to SMEs.

Important Notes:

1. Participants who register to take this course and pass the final examination with a score of 70% or higher will be eligible to receive the APO certificate. Please note that the final examination can be taken only once. Therefore, you decide when you choose to take the examination. Please note that the self-assessment quizzes are for your own evaluation and have no relation to the final examination results.

2. Participants who perform well in this course and receive the APO certificate will be given preference, on a merit basis, for selection to attend the follow-up face-to-face multicountry APO project on certified productivity practitioners or relevant specialized courses, provided that their nominations are received through their NPOs and slots are available.

3. Notes 1 and 2 are applicable only to participants from APO member countries. Participants from nonmember countries are welcome to take the course for self-improvement but not able to get opportunities to attend follow-up face-to-face multicountry APO projects.


Course Duration in Hours: 20 hours
Skill Level: Beginner
Upcoming Course: No
New Course: No