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The Strategic Role & Objectives Of Operations


Chapter 1 in the book covers the activities in which operations managers are involved as well as the many different types of operation which they are managing. However, examining what operations managers do does not answer a far more fundamental question: 'What should any company expect from its operation?'. Or, putting it another way: 'How does the operations function contribute to the organization's competitiveness or strategic direction?'.
If any operation wants to understand its contribution to the organisation of which it is a part, it must answer two questions. First, what is the role of the operations function - that is, what part is it expected to play within the business? Second, what are the specific performance objectives against which the business can assess the contribution of the operation to its strategic aspirations?

Both these issues are vitally important to any operation. Without an appreciation of its role within the business, the people who manage the operation can never be sure that they really are contributing in the long term success of the business. At a more practical level, it is impossible to know whether an operation is succeeding or not if the specific performance objectives against which its success is measured are not clearly spelt out.

The chapter in the book deals with both these issues. This section of the web page has selected a few examples of this in practice, using the book as a base.

In the general picture of operations management, this section is represented by the shaded areas in Figure 2.1.
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The Chapter Examples In The Book

TNT - Relevance Rating ***** - Site Rating ***** - Recommended
TNT are the UK leader for express delivery and logistics services. They have also won the European Quality Prize on several occasions, and are therefore well familiar with the role operations plays within an organisation. The services are all detailed on their site, including the TNT Express services and TNT Tracker mentioned in the book. Excellent information on their mission and vision is also given, and a search facility included to search for published information. A 'must visit' site.


The BBC - Relevance Rating ** - Site Rating ****
All the favourite BBC services are included in this homepage. It is basically an accessory to the BBC activities on Television, Radio and Magazine media. Not many operations issues are specifically covered on this BBC page.
The news site at the BBC is specifically covered on their BBC News page.
The key issue in the text regarding the 9 O'Clock News is the dependability of the programme. This is not mentioned as the site is dedicated to facilitating the news programmes.
However, a flavour for how the BBC present and organise their operation can be gained here.

The Godiva Chocolatier - Relevance Rating ** - Site Rating ***
This is the homepage of the Godiva Chocolatier. It mainly concentrates on its products rather than its processes but does give an insight into the importance of flexibility simply by the range of both products and accompanying services to provide that flexibility advantage.

LIDL (Another company mentioned in the same excerpt) - Relevance Rating ** - Site Rating **
The site is not dedicated to LIDL, but rather the implementation of SAP retail in the company. The site describes the benefits to customers and company alike, and could be used as an example of creating competitive advantage although not solely in cost.

The London Stock Exchange - Relevance Rating ** - Site Rating ***
The site gives the user information on how the exchange and its markets work. Available are descriptions of the exchange and the markets, news, and information on using the stock market. There is also a search facility if any particular information is needed.


NatWest Bank - Relevance Rating ** - Site Rating ***
This homepage is geared to describing the services that NatWest offer both its corporate and personal customers. It is moderately useful with a NatWest News Centre section and a search facility, however there are no specific statements concerning operations examples. It is a useful source of background information though and provides a good flavour of NatWest.


Other Organisations Relevant To This Chapter

Biz/Ed Company Facts – Rating ***** - Recommended
This is a section of the Biz/Ed site well worth visiting. Leading organisations have provided answers to typical student questions, basic data and case studies especially prepared for Biz/ed. This is valuable if studying any of the particular companies mentions. Some of those available are BMW, The Body Shop, BP, Virgin Atlantic Airways and Unilever amongst others. A good general site for operations management examples.

Virtual Visits - Rating ****
This site has bee developed jointly by Edinburgh University and Heriot-Watt University. It provides virtual case studies on six companies in different business sectors. Of the six companies available there are currently only three which can be accessed ;United Distillers, Blue Circle and Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service. Information about the company in terms of background, structure, production process is available for the three mentioned operations to providing a useful educational tool.

Operations Management Centre – Rating ****
The operations management centre provides on line resources for operations management material. Of particular interest to this introductory chapter is the company tour section. In this over 50 company tours are detailed to assist the application of theory to real organisations. Use the site as an assist to the study of the subject and apply some of the key learning points to the businesses.

Articles Relevant To This Chapter

Marketing & Logistics - Virtual Conference Centre Rating *****
To enter the Marketing & Logistics Section follow the relevant link in the main page. The Quality Management conferences list, details the Virtual Conference Centre's available selection for conferences in this subject area. The facility allows you to enter current conferences or browse the selection of proceedings from past conferences. This is an excellent resource for obtaining articles related to Marketing & Logistics.

Hot Topics - Rating ****
The Warwick Business School - Hot Topics briefing papers are available as general background to key organisational issues. They summarise research on a variety of topics. They aim the papers at directors, policy-makers and opinion formers in both the private and not-for-profit sectors, however, the information is also relevant background to researching a variety of areas. The content is not however wholly directed towards operations management.

Harvard Business Review - Rating *****
The Harvard Business Review is an excellent site for obtaining general information on the subject of Operations Management. The site contains abstracts from the current issue which provide a good insight into miscellaneous areas. There is also an archive section from which previous articles can be obtained.

The Sections
Main Page - Operations Management
Section 1 - Introduction
Section 2 - Design
Section 3 - Planning & Control
Section 4 - Improvement
Section 5 - The Operations Challenge