Operations performance objectives .

Operations performance objectives This first point made in this section is that operations objectives are very broad. Operations management has an impact on the five broad categories of stakeholders in any organisation. Stakeholders is a broad term but is generally used to mean anybody who could have an interest in, or is affected by, the operation. The five groups are: • Customers – These are the most obvious people who will be affected by any business. What the chapter goes on to call the five operations performance objectives apply primarily to this group of people. • Suppliers – Operations can have a major impact on suppliers, both on how they prosper themselves, and on how effective they are at supplying the operation. • Shareholders – Clearly, the better an operation is at producing goods and services, the more likely the whole business is to prosper and shareholders will be one of the major beneficiaries of this. • Employees – Similarly, employees will be generally better off if the company is prosperous; if only because they are more likely to be employed in the future. However operations responsibilities to employees go far beyond this. It includes the general working conditions which are determined by the way the operation has been designed. • Society – Although often having no direct economic connection with the company, individuals and groups in society at large can be impacted by the way its operations managers behave. The most obvious example is in the environmental responsibility exhibited by operations managers. The five performance objectives quality, speed, dependability, flexibility, and cost. Quality Quality is placed first in our list of performance objectives because many authorities believe it to be the most important. Certainly more has been written about it than almost any other operations performance objective over the last twenty years. As far as this introduction to the topic is concerned, quality is discussed largely in terms of it meaning ‘conformance’. That is, the most basic definition of quality is that a product or service is as it is supposed to be. In other words, it conforms to its specifications. There are two important points to remember when reading on quality as a performance objective. • The external affect of good quality within in operations is that the customers who ‘consume’ the operations products and services will have less (or nothing) to complain about. And if they have nothing to complain about they will (presumably) be happy with their products and services and are more likely to consume them again. This brings in more revenue for the company (or client’s satisfaction in a not-for-profit organisation. • Inside the operation quality has a different affect. If conformance quality is high in all the operations processes and activities very few mistakes will be being made. This generally means that cost is saved, dependability increases and speed of response increases. This is because, if an operation is continually correcting mistakes, it finds it difficult to respond quickly to customers requests. Speed Speed is a shorthand way of saying ‘Speed of response’. It means the time between an external or internal customer requesting a product or service, and them getting it. Again, there are internal and external affects • Externally speed is important because it helps to respond quickly to customers. Again, this is usually viewed positively by customers who will be more likely to return with more business. Sometimes also it is possible to charge higher prices when service is fast. The postal service in most countries and most transportation and delivery services charge more for faster delivery, for example. • The internal affects of speed have much to do with cost reduction. There are two areas where speed reduces cost (reducing inventories and reducing risks). The examples used are from manufacturing but the same thing applies to service operations. Usually, faster throughput of information (or customers) will mean reduced costs. So, for example, processing passengers quickly through the terminal gate at an airport can reduce the turn round time of the aircraft, thereby increasing its utilisation. What is not stressed is the affect the fast throughput can have on dependability. This is best thought of the other way round, ‘how is it possible to be on time when the speed of internal throughput within an operation is slow?’ When materials, or information, or customers ‘hangs around’ in a system for long periods (slow throughput speed) there is more chance of them getting lost or damaged with a knock-on effect on dependability. See the figure below Dependability Dependability means ‘being on time’. In other words, customers receive their products or services on time. In practice, although this definition sounds simple, it can be difficult to measure. What exactly is on time? Is it when the customer needed delivery of the product or service? Is it when they expected delivery? Is it when they were promised delivery? Is it when they were promised delivery the second time after it failed to be delivered the first time? Again, it has external and internal affects. • Externally (no matter how it is defined) dependability is generally regarded by customers as a good thing. Certainly being late with delivery of goods and services can be a considerable irritation to customers. Especially with business customers, dependability is a particularly important criterion used to determine whether suppliers have their contracts renewed. So, again, the external affects of this performance objective are to increase the chances of customers returning with more business. • Internally dependability has an affect on cost. The chapter identifies three ways in which costs are affected – by saving time (and therefore money), by saving money directly, and by giving an organisation the stability which allows it to improve its efficiencies. What the chapter does not stress is that highly dependable systems can help increase speed performance. Once more, think about it the other way round -‘how can an operation which is not dependable ever promise its customers fast response?” See the figure below. Flexibility This is a more complex objective because we use the word ‘flexibility’ to mean so many different things. The important point to remember is that flexibility always means ‘being able to change the operation in some way’. Some of the different types of flexibility (product/service flexibility, mix flexibility, volume flexibility, and delivery flexibility). It is important to understand the difference between these different types of flexibility, but it is more important to understand the affect flexibility can have on the operation. • Externally the different types of flexibility allow an operation to fit its products and services to its customers in some way. Mix flexibility allows an operation to produce a wide variety of products and services for its customers to choose from. Product/service flexibility allows it develop new products and services incorporating new ideas which customers may find attractive. Volume and delivery flexibility allow the operation to adjust its output levels and its delivery procedures in order to cope with unexpected changes in how many products and services customers want, or when they want them, or where they want them. • The internal affects associated with this performance objective. The three most important are namely flexibility speeds up response, flexibility saves time (and therefore money), and flexibility helps maintain dependability. See the figure beiow. Cost There are two important points here. The first is that the cost structure of different organisations can vary greatly. Second, and most importantly, the other four performance objectives all contribute, internally, to reducing cost. This has been one of the major revelations within operations management over the last twenty years. “If managed properly, high quality, high speed, high dependability and high flexibili
ty can not only bring their own external rewards, they can also save the operation cost.”

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