The assignment is the opportunity for you to investigate operations management in practice and to perform deeper investigations. We expect you to show further reading and investigation – and to compare what you see in the organisation (or an organisation of your choice) with what is written in the academic literature.
• Students must select the organisation (which you have access to) and work through following problems relating to operations within the organisation.
• Students must prepare the report (using the headings below as a guide) discussing the operations of the organisation, and making recommendations for improvement.
• We have suggested some problems to consider under each heading – but these are not exhaustive topics (and you might discuss other things you see as being important).
• We will advise that you adopt the reasonably formal style and structure for your report. Include the executive summary and conclusions and recommendations.
• Students must note that they don't required to look at an whole company but instead might decide to focus on a particular business unit or operation. Like the group want to look at a large international company – but only have access to one part of the organisation.We also identify that some groups might have little to say under some of these headings but lots to discuss under other headings. Again this is to be expected.
• What we will encourage is that students have the brief discussion of the organisation using all the headings (a mini “operations audit” if you like) and then expand on one or two areas where the team feel the organisation could improve its operations. This would give you opportunity to read and explore one or two areas in more depth.
Discuss the operations strategy of your chosen organisation. Does your selected organisation have a clear operations strategy? How does the operations strategy support or complement the business strategy? How has the operations strategy developed and modified in recent years? If the organisation doesn’t have an operations strategy can you help them broadly define an operations strategy or give them guidance on what they should do to develop one?
Product & Service Design
Discuss the products and services given by your chosen organisation. Do they target the similar markets or do they have different offerings catering to different markets? What operations challenges does the product/service mix pose? Could you see evidence of effective screening processes? How good is the organisation at developing products and services? If appropriate discuss the product or service design process. Who else is involved in product and service design (e.g. suppliers, customers, retailers)? Do they measure the impact of design and new product development?
Discuss the processes within the selected organization. From your reading of Topic 4 (Process Design) and other background reading, consider whether or not alternative approaches may lead to improvements in the performance of organisation. Could you comment on the layout of retail outlets or manufacturing facilities belonging to the organisation? How will you go about helping the organization to make improvements? Could you comment on use of technology?
Planning & Control
Outline types of short and long term planning which are carried out in an organisation. Is demand dependent or independent? How suitable is their approach to forecasting? How can they improve? Critically discuss the organisation’s approaches to scheduling, loading and sequencing where suitable. If suitable discuss capacity management. How does the organisation cope with fluctuations in demand? What alternatives might be open to them? Is technology used to support these activities? Do you think there is adequate feedback and control?
Innovation and improvement
How does the company encourage innovation? Is innovation something that is managed? Outline some of the tools for improvement that you would recommend as being appropriate for your organisation and describe how they could be implemented. Will you say the organisation is lean or agile?
Outline the supply chain of the organisation (or part of it), including purchasing, physical distribution management and materials management. How is IT used to supply chain management? Outline how the supply chain might be improved.
Discuss the costs of quality as they apply in your chosen organisation. How are quality problems diagnosed? How could the company improve their approach to quality management? Does the organisation have a formal quality system? Will this be suitable ? Prior getting started on the assignment, a few things to consider….
You may feel tempted to answer some problems based on common sense but you should not to do this. Demonstrate achievement of the learning outcomes for this module (through the assignment). Please keep this in mind and try to show understanding and application of theory, tools and techniques covered during the lectures (and from directed reading).
The maximum word count= 2,500 words