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Managing Business Activities to Achieve Results

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    Throughout this report I shall be exploring the importance of the different business process’s used to deliver outcomes and the goals of a company. Also see how the appropriate systems ensure the quality of either the services or products of a company and how this would effect and improve the organisation within the work place. I will explore the work-based problem of a slow and dated computer system and the solution to this with the planning processes involved.

    I shall discuss how the Total Quality Management principles could reduce such problems recurring and targets that could be put in place to improve the chance of smoother more efficient running of the office. Total Quality management is the constant drive and to deliver customer value and continuously improve. This is a principle that has evolved from earlier stages such as inspection, quality control and quality assurance. I shall explain this principle and how this helps the given identified problem from recurring.

    I will state how the Kaizen strategy, which is the emphasis on continual improvement, can maintain a standard of quality for a business. And evaluate how Lewins change model can influence the how likely the proposed solution is to success. The Problem There are obviously going to be problems that arise within the work place. However great or small these are to be addressed and a solution should to be found in order to continue with the smooth running of a business.

    Blackheath Products (a laminated sheet material distributor) have a problem where by the computer system that is installed for the sales team to process there orders and complete the day to day office duties is inefficient. The system is too slow, often is unresponsive and is an out-dated and long-winded process. This can often lead to mistakes being made with customer’s orders, delays with imputing work onto the systems and often loss of money for the business when the system is down.

    For example in the past there has been instances where by the system has failed and orders have been unable to be inputted or mistakes have been made with the customer’s order resulting in one our largest consumer ending their account with Blackheath and giving their custom to one of the biggest competitors. This repeated computer let downs have led to customer’s loss of loyalty with Blackheath. To improve this problem within the business, management could install a new computer package onto the system to speed up the work process for the sales team.

    An updated version of the system that is currently available would be a good solution so there would not be too much change for the staff to adapt to, but the efficiency of everyone’s workload would improve. This could possibly in the long run have cost savings to the company as a newer system would decrease the amount of errors on the system affecting customer’s orders and may result in less system failures, which is essentially a mass loss of business for the company. The Planned Process The process behind finding the best solution to this problem would be to follow “The Deming Cycle”.

    Deming cycle is a “continuous quality improvement model consisting of a logical sequence of four repetitive steps for continuous improvement” Deming, E (1986) He states that you are to firstly Plan how you are going to change the process of how things are done. This will allow you to predict what effect the proposed change will have on the company and in how these effects can be measured. For example with the problem suggested on this occasion, we have planned to change the computer system and predicted that the effects of this change would be that efficiency should improve and time would be saved.

    The increased amount of work people would then be able to get through within the day would clearly be measurable. Deming next states the Do stage. This is to introduce the change on perhaps a smaller scale than initially proposed and so the effects of this sample solution can be measure. E. g. this could mean trialling the systems on a selected team of staff to evaluate whether the change is viable. Check is the next process, which would be evaluating the results gathered to explore whether the change had any effect. The results if the trail period would let us determine whether a new system would seem like too uch of a hassle for staff to get used to and time consuming to operate. Or whether it was simple format to operate with and resulted in a smoother running of the business. Lastly it is said to Act. This is the decision on whether to adapt to the proposed change judging by the results gathered throughout the trial, or to completely abandon this if it is to be deemed ineffective. Organisational Barriers Organisational barriers are those that prevent the work load moving forward should there be other processes to be completed before the next stage can be started.

    For example If there is a system failure with a member of the sales teams computer and they have not completed inputting the order, this would postpone senior management from performing the needed checks on that order ready to release it for dispatch. This would therefore cause a backload of work for the office and in the then hast to complete the ever growing pile, the number of mistakes would be sure to rise. This could obviously become a costly problem for Blackheath if there is to be continuous errors with customer’s orders.

    I would therefore consider the processes involved with completing an order (inputting the order and it then being passed to another member for checking/releasing) to be an organisational barrier. In order to prevent such problem, other than a more reliable system, the management could propose a much more effective process of maintaining a flow through the office. For example if there was to be better communication between the staff in the office from sales team to the management, perhaps they could inform the management could be informed of any delays and therefore postpone the checking the orders until the IT issue has been solved.

    This could also be the managers role to communicate with other departments such as the It support to ensure the problem is solved promptly. Departmental communication is possibly the key here. Total Quality Management Obviously with any problem that is then solved, we aim to try and reduce the risk of that problem then reoccurring. In order to prevent this we would need to make sure the initial system that is put in place is of the highest quality. Total Quality Management explains the constant drive to deliver ustomer value with continuous improvements. This principle has evolved from the early stages of quality development of which began with Inspection (e. g. sorting, grading, and salvage). At Blackheath this would be apparent in the way that as all goods are inspected before they are dispatched for delivery for any noticeable flaws such as scratches or splits on the laminates and any majorly damaged sheets would be salvaged and fabricated to produce samples. This developed into quality control.

    This became a little more thorough, for example there where processes such as self-inspection, basic statistics and quality planning, product testing and paper work control. Then Quality assurance was introduced. This had a more advanced quality planning than quality control, quality system development and showed use of quality costs and effects analysis. This lead to what is today the Total Quality Management of where by quality is measured to the highest of standards. Products and services will have the ability to satisfy the highest of needs and expectations of the consumer.

    As there is now policy deployment, employee, supplier & customers are involved, process management, performance measurement and teamwork etc. This is very much a part of Blackheath today, the customers would have say in what they deem to be of a high quality laminate and have the option to return if the they see the goods as unfit. Teamwork within the warehouse would also see that all goods are carefully handled through picking and prepared accordingly for delivery to see there are not damaged in transit.

    The principles of the Total Quality Management would reduce the risk of this problem reoccurring as the quality of the new system put in place would be analysed to such an extent that there would perhaps be no room for error. Also these principles suggest that the employee and the management would be involved in the decision on whether to take on the system or not, implying that there would be a greater chance of success, as the people who will actually be using the system will have a say in the matter rather than just the IT manager. Managing quality standards

    To maintain the monitoring of this new computer package there would obviously need to be system that would need to be put in place to ensure that the standards are not slipping. For example targets could be set and adhered to in order to see the implications it is having. To improve the time it takes to input an order onto the system. At the minute this is a problem with the system constantly not responding and performing at the slowest level. We could aim to have the average order completed and checked within 2mins, of which is a reasonable amount of time therefore deeming the target achievable and realistic.

    Then if we are to compare the amount of orders that are put onto the system and work out a weekly average, this could then be compared to the previous weekly of average of before the system was put in place. Another objective could be to see how the new system has affected the customer’s opinion on the service of Blackheath by analysing the amount of positive feedback forms there are compared to negative. Questionnaires are given to the customers for them to rate the service of the company, including speed and accuracy. This is numeric data and so can easily be recorded.

    A score of less than 20 is deemed a negative feedback and those which are 20 plus are positive. It could be targeted to improve the number of positive feedback scores by 50% against the previous trimester scores, within a time scale of 4 months. We can easily measure this be recording the scores on a monthly basis and comparing the number of each, (negative and positive) with those of the previous 4 months. This certainly would be achievable as the IT package that is currently in place is said to be the biggest problem the customers have with Blackheath.

    I think the time scale would give a better representation and realistic view on whether the target has been achieved. Evaluation I fully believe that the current problems with Blackheath could be easily resolved by installing a new computer package for the sales team and would successfully diminish almost all delays, mistakes and system failures. Lewin’s Force Field analysis explains how the driving forces for change will battle against the restraining forces to achieve the desired state. This would be achieved by either strengthening the driving or weakening the restraining fields.

    Lewin (2011) stated “An issue is held in balance by the interaction of two opposing sets of forces – those seeking to promote change (driving forces) and those attempting to maintain the status quo (restraining forces)”. The benefits for the in favour of the new It system as previously stated would be cost savings, it would be time beneficial, efficiency and effectiveness would improve. The new package would give the company a competitive edge against their rivals as the service would improve. It could possibly mean less paper work for the office which would be economical.

    The new system could have automatic updates and have electronic audit trails and may mean using fewer resources such as heavy books etc. However as with any change there is resistance. With the proposed solution there would be the need for staff training on the use of it, employees may be afraid to use the new system or experience technophobia as they are familiar with the older version. It may in a further more serious manor drive for job cuts to be made. However, there are ways in which the management could make the disadvantages of the new system easier to swallow.

    With the change pending, management would reassure any doubts in their employees mind on any resistance they may have. For example, full training would be reassured and a recognised qualification could be offered on completion of such training. With regards to job cut worries, redeployment could be assured or a good redundancy package. However job cuts for a new computer system is unlikely to be a major problem. Ito conclude in this case Lewins model shows how the benefits drive against its resistors to make the change more acceptable leading the solution to the desired state, or a more efficiently run office.

    Also when a new change is put into place there would be the need to keep up the success of this. The Kaizen strategy which emphasises the “never-ending efforts for improvement involving everyone in the organization – managers and workers alike. ” Kotelnikov (2011) and strives to maintain the all current standards. Should this strategy be followed within Blackheath, the new package would be monitored and ensured that the high standards were kept up to date and the expected high speed of the system is sustained. Conclusion

    In summary, the theories explained have shown how a work based problem can be solved through following the process of management models. It has here been shown that the problem of having an outdated, slow and unreliable computer system can be overcome by the introduction of a newer model up to date model. Then it was shown how Deming’s cycle can be followed as a plan to ensure that the solution can work and sustain the quality. It was then explored to what extent the problem is based on the organisational process put in place by the management. E. g. he process of checking on order once it has been inputted and showed a how more communication between staff and departments could perhaps improve this. Also the evolution of Total Quality management was discussed to show how the problem would have a lower risk of reoccurring if followed. Targets were then set to show how the problem and solution could be monitored. These were realistic and were achievable within the given time scale. The proposition as a whole was then evaluated against Lewins Force Field analysis and the lead to the conclusion that the suggested solution could be deemed acceptable and would certainly work for Blackheath.

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