Operations Improvement: Approaches and Processes

Introduction

Business organizations must adopt business strategies that facilitate effective operations. It is through effective business operations that an organization can achieve its objectives and operate effectively in a competitive industry. Optimizing processes and checking costs are effective production methods that organizations can adopt to improve their operations and sustain their competitive advantage. Business organizations improve their operational processes in order to achieve competitive advantage against competitors in the industry providing of same products and services. Organizations can improve their operations through training their workforce on new business operation practices, concepts, as well as on use of the new technologies in business operations (Rahman, 1998).

Justification of Operations Improvement

Traditional methods of production of goods and services were expensive due to their pull nature. Business organizations produced large quantities and storing them in warehouses. The stored good were then supplied to retailers as they demanded. These methods of production increased the cost of doing business as organizations had to pay for warehouse services and for advertisement in order to sell their products. These were the challenges that faced traditional business organization (Nord et al., 1997).

The need for ways of addressing these rising operation cost led business organizations to seek ways of improving their operations particularly during the industrialization period. As business organization started to internationalize and competition among them took shape, there was greater need for operations improvement to sustain competitiveness in the marketplace.

Nord and colleagues (1997) posit that various operation improvement methods were established to eliminate business processes which did not add value to the production process, but rather added unnecessary costs. Lean production became the way forward. This production method was influenced by product demand. These lean operations improvement concepts began in Europe and later copied elsewhere around the globe. These lean production methods led to a new thinking as business in business operations as organizations adopted and improved them achieve competitive advantage. Key objective of these methods was to improve on business operations.

Operations Improvement Methods

Kaizen Approach

Kaizen deals with issues of labor force at the work place. It seeks to eliminating overworking, educating workers how to apply scientific methods and also on how to identify and eliminate wasteful processes. As such, Kaizen approach to operations improvement emphasizes productivity of the workforce through humane business practices. As such, Kaizen seeks to nurturing human resources and encourage participation hence productivity in business operations. Kaizen approach to operations improvement leads to total quality management when applied to cross-departmental scale and sets free human efforts by improving productivity through use of machines and computing power (Rahman, 1998). Rather than the infamous command and control of 20th century, Kaizen approach includes monitoring and evaluation of human resources and making necessary changes and adjustments where applicable.

Benchmarking Method

According to Womack and colleagues (1996), benchmarking is the process of comparing one business process to the industry best practices. This comparison employs the use of parameters such as operation cost, time and quality. Organizations select the best business in the industry which has similar processes to those of their firm and carries out the comparison. In such a way, they understand how well targets are achieved and the processes that lead to the attainments of such targets. Benchmarking enables the organizations in identify the right processes put in place by the successful business and in turn practice the same to their firms in a bid to achieve their corporate mission and competitive advantage in the market place.

Total Quality Management

TQM is concerned with the internal quality processes in an organization. The key target of TQM is to enable business organizations improve their internal process. When internal processes are enhanced, products and services are produced with the customer’s needs in consideration. TQM also seeks to enable business organization minimize there operation costs, better performance and enhance customer satisfaction (Rahman, 1998).

Business process re-engineering

This concept concerns strategic rethinking and redesign of an organization’s existing resources. BPR aims at streamlining an organization’s business processes, procedures and steps regarding resource use in production of products or services (Rahman, 1998). Fragmentation of business processes into sub -processes creates specific benefits. As such, BPR is concerned with redesigning the process as a whole in order to achieve the maximum benefits. By renewing the business processes, the company renews its competitiveness to curb foreign competition. BPR improved on Just-in-Time (JIT) and Total Quality Management (TQM) to improve the organizational processes (Rahman, 1998). On it negative side, reengineering though helping the business to achieve it targets and also cutting on costs, earned a bad reputation by resulting to massive lay offs.

Applicability of Operation Improvement Methods on Individual’s Professional Life

Traditional business operations involved many processes that neither added value nor minimized the cost of business operations for most organizations. The lean production or rather business operations have enabled business organizations to tremendously minimize the operation costs and achieve competitiveness. They enable organizations to identify and eliminate costly business processes. This concept is applicable on individual’s professional life as an individual can identify and eliminate costly and valueless activities which jeopardize his or her professional effectiveness and performance both at work and in private life.

Conclusion

Business processes that add no value to organizations are costly. Businesses must adopt lean operation techniques in order to achieve their business objectives and gain competitive advantage in the marketplace. Identification and elimination of these unnecessary business operation processes helps organizations minimize the costs of producing products and services.

References

Nord, C., Patterson, B. & Johansson, B. (1997). TPM-Total production maintenance. Management Journal, 5 (2), 23-28.

Rahman, S. (1998). Theory of constraints: A review of philosophy and its applications. International journal of operations and production management, 18 (4), 336-355.

Womack, J., Jone, D. & Roos, D. (1996). Lean thinking: banish waste and create wealth in your corporation. London: Simon & Schuster.