2Operations management operations management: the process that uses the resources of an organisation to provide the right goods or services for the customer.In the context of the above definition, ‘right’ means ‘what the customer wants’.It may mean quality and price to one customer, but convenience and flexibility to another.
3Identifying operations issues Customers have many requirements, so operations management looks at a variety of issues. In the AQA AS Business Studies course it looks at:location (Unit 1)resources to use and converting them into outputs (Unit 1)capacity utilisationorganising stock controlqualitycustomer serviceworking with suppliersusing technology
4Operational targetsoperational targets: the goals or aims of the operations function of the business.A business that achieves its operational targets would be described as ‘operating efficently’. This efficiency may mean low costs or high quality etc.Three examples of operational targets are:unit costsmeasures of qualitycapacity utilisation
5Unit costs unit cost: the cost of producing 1 unit of output. unit cost = total cost units of outputThe unit cost is also known as the average cost (AC) or average total cost (ATC).The target for a business is to achieve low unit costs.Example:A business produces 10 units of output at a total cost of £70.average (or unit) cost = £70/10 = £7
6Unit costs: calculations Total costs (£)Units of outputUnit costs (£)Product A47020Product B55830Product C1,06050Product D1,945100Based on the data above, calculate the unit costs of products A to D.Assuming these products are of the same quality, which product is manufactured most efficiently?
7Unit costs: answers Order of efficiency: B – D – C – A Total costs (£) Units of outputUnit costs (£)Product A4702023.50Product B5583018.60Product C1,0605021.20Product D1,94510019.45Order of efficiency: B – D – C – A
8Measures of qualityQuality is defined as ’those features of a product or service that allow it to satisfy (or delight) customers’.Because ‘quality’ depends on people’s opinions, there will be different views on what is meant by quality.What measures of quality would you use for a business?Hint: they must be measurable!Some examples of measures of quality and a brief comment on the logic behind their use are provided on the following two slides. How do yours compare?
9Examples of measures of quality (1) Note that this is just a sample of quality measures — a good quality measure will be geared towards the specific needs of the individual firm.Customer satisfaction ratingsA survey of customers can reveal customer opinions on a numerical scale (e.g. 1–10) or using qualitative measures (e.g. excellent — very good — good — etc.)As the purpose of a product/service is to satisfy the needs of the customer, this is an excellent way of measuring whether quality has been achieved.Customer complaintsThis calculates the number of customers who complain (it is sometimes measured as a percentage of the total number of customers).Although this might seem to be a negative approach, it is a good way of measuring whether a company has problems that it needs to solve.
10Examples of measures of quality (2) Scrap rate or wastage rateThis calculates the number of items rejected during the production process as a percentage of the number of units produced.This will show the business whether its production methods are working effectively, guiding it towards areas that might need improvement.PunctualityThis calculates the degree to which a business delivers its products (or provides its services) on time. It is often measured as a percentage: punctuality = deliveries on time × 100 total deliveriesThis measure is used by many businesses, especially those involved in transporting goods (e.g. haulage firms) or customers (e.g. rail franchises).
11Using quality measures: question Based on the data below, decide which company is providing the best quality and which one is providing the lowest level of quality for its customers.CompanyCustomer satisfaction (10 = excellent, 1 = poor)Customer complaints (%)Scrap rate (%)Deliveries on time (%)A22.214.171.1248.5B126.96.36.1998.0C5.92.593.1D8.20.86.096.0
12Using quality measures: answer (1) Rank order of firms for each quality measure:Worst performerFirm C has the lowest ranking in all four categories and is clearly the worst performer.CompanyCustomer satisfaction (10 = excellent, 1 = poor)Customer complaints (%)Scrap rate (%)Deliveries on time (%)A3rd1stB2ndC4thD
13Using quality measures: answer (2) Best performerFirms A, B and D all average second place, so a case could be made for each one.Factors to consider:the quality measure(s) deemed most important by customersthe quality measure(s) deemed most important by the firmthe numerical difference in ratings (e.g. B has a much higher rating for customer satisfaction than A, but is only slightly behind A on delivery times)(It could be argued that the first column is the crucial one because it measures the overall view of customers.)
14Capacity utilisation: key terms capacity: the maximum total level of output or production that a business can produce in a given time period. A company producing at this level is said to be producing at full capacity.capacity utilisation: the percentage of a firm’s total possible production level that is being reached. If a company is large enough to produce 100 units a week, but is actually producing 92 units, its capacity utilisation is 92%.under-utilisation of capacity: when a firm’s output is below the maximum possible. This is also known as excess capacity or spare capacity. It represents a waste of resources and means that the organisation is spending unnecessarily on its fixed assets.capacity shortage: when a firm’s capacity is not large enough to deal with the level of demand for its products. This means that certain customers will be disappointed and sales will be lost.
15Calculating capacity utilisation capacity utilisation: the extent to which the company’s maximum possible output is being reached.capacity utilisation (%) = actual output per annum (month) × maximum possible output per annum (month)Example: a company can produce 5,000 units but is actually producing 3,800 units.Capacity utilisation is:3,800 × 100 = 76% 5,000
16Spare capacityIn the previous example, the company could increase production by 1,200 units or 24% of 5,000 units. This is known as its spare capacity.There is no one ideal target percentage, but many people believe that 90% capacity utilisation is a sensible target.At 100% there is no scope for maintenance and repair, to respond to sudden orders, or to deal with emergency situations that may occur.Thus firms like to have some spare capacity.BUT…spare capacity means ‘unused’ resources and higher fixed costs per unit.
17Managing capacity utilisation In terms of capacity utilisation, there are two types of situation that a firm needs to manage:under-utilisation of capacity (also known as excess capacity or spare capacity)capacity shortageSpare capacity is the more normal situation. What causes it?
18Causes of spare capacity (under-utilisation of capacity) new competitors or new products entering the marketfall in demand for the productunsuccessful marketingseasonal demandover-investment in fixed assets
19Disadvantages of spare capacity Firms have a higher proportion of fixed costs per unit.These higher costs will lead to either lower profit levels or the need to increase price to maintain the same profit levels, and therefore to lower sales volume.Spare capacity can portray a negative image of a firm, suggesting that it is unsuccessful.With less work to do, employees may become bored and demoralised, lowering their motivation and efficiency.
20Advantages of under-utilisation Spare capacity means that there is more time for maintenance and repair of machinery, for training and for improving existing systems.There may be less pressure and stress for employees, who may become overworked at full capacity.Under-utilisation allows a company to cope with a sudden increase in demand.
21Achieving full or high capacity utilisation Methods include:increasing marketing to boost demandlowering pricerationalisation — improving efficiency by cutting the scale of operations. This reduces the capacity of a firm and so increases capacity utilisation.
22Ways of reducing capacity Methods include:selling off all or a part of its production areachanging to a shorter working week or shorter daylaying off workerstransferring resources away from an area of the business (e.g. moving workers away from a branch with low capacity utilisation)
23Managing capacity shortage If there is a shortage of capacity, the firm will try to increase its capacity.Ways of increasing capacity include:building or extending factories/plantsasking staff to work overtime or longer hoursrecruiting more temporary or part-time staffhiring new full-time staffsubcontracting
24Subcontractingsubcontracting: when an organisation asks another business to make all or a part of its product.Many businesses use subcontracting as a way of reducing capacity utilisation problems.By asking other firms to supply goods, the original firm can increase supply to match demand without needing to increase its own factory size.It can then reduce the amount of work that it subcontracts if it needs to cut output.
25Advantages of subcontracting Businesses can react to changes in demand more quickly if they have access to a number of different firms’ production plants.Subcontractors may be more specialised and therefore more efficient in a particular activity.Subcontracting lets a firm focus on its core business and helps it to avoid becoming involved in activities in which it is less competent.A one-off (non-standard) order can be given to a subcontractor so that the business benefits from the order but suffers no disruption to its normal production.
26Disadvantages of subcontracting Quality is no longer directly under the firm’s own control.Excessive subcontracting erodes a company’s operations base and its ability to initiate research.The subcontractor wants to make a profit, so it is possible that it will be more expensive to subcontract.Subcontracting may require a firm to give confidential information to a supplier, such as details of its methods and patents.
27Stock control and capacity utilisation stock control: the management of levels of raw materials, work-in-progress and finished goods to reduce storage costs, while still meeting the demands of the customer.Stock control can overcome capacity utilisation problems:Holding high stock levels enables a business to release additional products on to the market when demand increases.During periods of low demand, the level of stocks can be replenished by producing more than is being demanded.
28Dealing with non-standard orders non-standard orders: a business decision relating to a one-off contract.Often the non-standard order requires a response to a request to supply a fixed quantity of a product at a particular price (invariably a lower price than usual).A decision on a non-standard order will be taken primarily on the basis of its financial consequences, but the firm will also need to look at the impact on the functional aspects of the firm, such as operations.
29Non-standard orders: operational factors the level of spare capacity availablethe scope for subcontractingthe impact on costsis there potential for future (profitable) orders?the effect on staff morale
31Qualityquality: those features of a product or service that allow it to satisfy (or delight) customers.Quality is subjective — a matter of personal opinion — and views of it will vary from individual to individual.Think of a product and list five ways of measuring the quality of that product.
32Some measures of quality Possible measures of quality are listed below (like quality itself, these measures are subjective):appearancereliability and durabilityfunctions (added extras)after-sales servicebrand/image/reputationenvironmental friendlinessHow do these compare with your list? Why are there differences between your list and this list?
33Benefits of quality to a business increase in sales volumecreating a unique selling point (USP) and enhancing the firm’s reputationgreater scope for increasing the selling pricepricing flexibility, as customers will want to buy the product even if price is changedpossible reduced manufacturing cost and reduced wastage if high-quality materials and processes improve the efficiency of the production process
34Issues involved in introducing and managing a quality system Costs. Quality procedures require a great deal of administrative expense to set up and monitor.Training. This can be a major issue in the introduction of a new quality system, as a system of quality assurance relies on a well-trained workforce that is able to understand and implement the quality system that the business uses.Disruption to production. In the short run, the training programme provided can be quite disruptive to existing production methods.
35Distinction between quality control and quality assurance This is a system that uses inspection as a way of finding any faults in the good or service being provided.Inspectors are employed to check the accuracy of completed work.Quality assuranceThis is a system that aims to achieve or improve quality by organising every process to get the product ‘right first time’ and prevent mistakes ever happening.Quality assurance concentrates on the process of production. The idea of self-checking is crucial to quality assurance.
36Quality control: benefits Inspection at the end of the process can prevent a defective product reaching the customer, thus eliminating a problem with a whole batch of products.It is a more secure system than one that trusts every individual to do his or her job properly, particularly if workers want to avoid responsibility.Inspectors may be highly skilled in detecting problems and may spot quality problems that are being repeated by different workers.
37Quality control: problems By placing responsibility for quality failures on the inspector, quality control does little to encourage individuals to improve the quality of their output.Employing an inspection team is an expense that could be viewed as unnecessary if the products are produced ‘right first time’.Giving workers responsibility for their own work helps to increase the interest, variety and responsibility of their job, and thus helps to motivate them.
38Quality assurance: benefits Ownership of the product or service rests with the workers rather than with an independent inspector, giving them greater responsibility.Theorists such as Herzberg argue that the responsibility will motivate workers.Costs are reduced because there is less waste — any faults are discovered during the process.Because an individual will not want to be blamed for a faulty product, each worker checks what he or she receives, reducing the possibility of a faulty product.
39Systems of quality assurance: TQM The most widely recognised quality assurance system is total quality management, often known as TQM.TQM is a culture of quality that involves all employees of a firm.Key features of TQM are:The quality chain. Each person involved in production treats the receiver of their work as if they were an external customer.‘Right first time’. Employees aim for defect prevention rather than detection.All staff share a commitment to continuous improvement.Partnerships are built with suppliers.Staff are educated and trained to take responsibility for their own quality.Employees are encouraged to take pride in their work.
40KaizenThe Japanese philosophy of kaizen has given rise to quality systems based on continuous improvement.Kaizen (or ‘continuous improvement’) is a policy of implementing small, incremental changes in order to achieve better quality and/or greater efficiency. These changes are invariably suggested by employees and emanate from a corporate culture that encourages employees to identify potential improvements.
41Quality standardsISO 9001: the international standard of quality assurance that is equivalent to BS 5750.BS 5750: a British Standards award granted to organisations which possess quality assurance systems that meet the standards set.These standards aim to increase quality throughout an organisation. Firms must show that they have quality systems that cover the quality of their working methods, services and processes as well as the quality of their products.
42Benefits of quality standards Marketing advantages from having ‘proof’ of high quality standards.Assurance to customers that products meet certain standards. Some organisations insist on these awards before agreeing to trade with a firm, as this helps to guarantee the quality of their supplies.Greater employee motivation from the sense of recognition.Financial benefits from the elimination of waste and the improved reputation of the firm.
43Developing effective operations: customer service Chapter 25Developing effective operations: customer service
44Customer servicecustomer service: the overall activity of identifying and satisfying customer needs and the delivery of a level of service that meets or exceeds customer expectations.customer expectations: what people think should happen and how they think they should be treated when asking for or receiving customer service. Higher expectations among customers mean that better customer service must be provided.customer satisfaction: the feeling that the buyer gets when he or she is happy with the level of customer service that has been provided and the degree to which customer expectations have been met.
45What do customers want?Customers do not always want the same service from a business.Consequently, most businesses use their own measurements of customer satisfaction, to make it relevant to their own customers.A survey by the Institute of Customer Service (ICS) found that customers had ten top priorities that affected customer satisfaction.Remember: you are all customers!Make a list of five factors that you believe would fit into the top ten.See whose list is closest to the results of the ICS survey on the next slide.
46Calculating your score Score 10 marks if you had the number one factor, 9 marks for the second most important factor… down to 1 mark for the tenth factor.Customer priorities/expectations were:Quality of the product or service 10 marksFriendliness of staff 9 marksEfficiency in dealing with problems/complaints 8 marksSpeed of service or delivery 7 marksHelpfulness of staff in general 6 marksEffectiveness in handling enquiries 5 marksExtent to which customers felt ‘valued/important’ 4 marksThe competence of staff in completing their tasks 3 marksThe ease with which the transaction was completed 2 marksThe extent to which the customer was kept informed 1 mark
47Other findings of the ICS survey Service businesses (e.g. hairdressers and decorators) and professional services (e.g. architects) are best at satisfying customers.The public sector and utilities (e.g. electricity suppliers) bring up the rear.The survey also highlighted the importance of employee satisfaction. Typically, the more satisfied employees are, the more highly motivated they are to provide a good service. This leads to a higher level of customer satisfaction.
48Methods of meeting customer expectations Customer expectations can be met through a series of stages:Stage 1: Conduct market research to find out customer expectations so that customer service targets the right factors.Stage 2: Introduce relevant training in customer service into the organisation so that the workforce can meet and surpass customer expectations.Stage 3: Set up quality procedures and set quality standards so that the organisation is geared towards the needs of its customers.Stage 4: Monitor performance against these standards so that high quality and good customer service are maintained.
49Meeting customer expectations through market research The standard for ‘quality’ is set by the customer, who is therefore the best place to start.Primary market research can be used to get comments from consumers.Secondary market research can help a firm to discover successful measures used by other businesses.The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) can provide data on the factors and features that are most valued in the marketplace.Other sources of secondary market research are surveys such as the UK Customer Satisfaction Index and the annual CompariSat survey provided by FDS International.
50Meeting customer expectations through training A look at the top ten factors shows how many depend on the quality of the employees. Training helps employees to be good at their jobs.Companies often provide specific training in customer care.Vocational qualifications in customer care help employees to improve customer service.
51Meeting customer expectations through quality control, quality assurance and monitoring quality standardsQuality control can ensure that faulty goods are identified and rejected as a result of the inspection process.Quality assurance helps to improve customer satisfaction by ensuring that goods and services are ‘right first time’.Any business that subscribes to a quality standard, such as ISO 9001, must regularly monitor its activities to ensure that it is still meeting the standards that have been set. This will normally be sufficient to ensure that high-quality customer service is offered.
52Main benefits of high levels of customer service Impact on sales volume. High-quality service that exceeds the expectations of customers will lead to increased demand for the goods and services provided by a business.Creating a unique selling point (USP). The quality of customer service can be used as a USP to enhance a company’s uniqueness and individuality.Impact on selling price. The USP will enable a business to charge higher prices and thus earn higher profits.The firm’s reputation. Companies with a reputation for good customer service are likely to gain repeat business and have a solid base of loyal customers.
53Additional benefits of high levels of customer service A motivated workforce. Good relations with customers may make the workplace a happier working environment.Lower costs. Costs may be reduced because a high level of customer service is likely to mean fewer complaints to handle.References. In some cases, organisations will insist on proof of high levels of customer service (e.g. testimony from other customers) before agreeing to trade with a firm.Public relations. Positive publicity arising from good customer service can be used for PR.
54Customer service: follow-up exercise Complete the practice exercise and the questions in the case study at the end of Chapter 25.
55Working with suppliers Chapter 26Working with suppliers
56Working with suppliers supplier: an organisation that provides a business with the materials that it needs to carry out its business activities.For a manufacturer, suppliers mainly provide the raw materials and components needed to produce the finished good.For a retailer, suppliers invariably provide the finished goods that the retailer sells.
57Choosing effective suppliers A business may improve its efficiency to a large extent by choosing effective suppliers.When choosing suppliers, the main factors that a business will consider are:pricespayment termsqualitycapacityreliabilityflexibility
58Choosing suppliers: prices A business will seek value for money from its suppliers.If the supplier offers low prices, a business can benefit in two ways:The business can reduce the final selling price of its own product and therefore gain a competitive advantage.The business can keep its final selling price the same, but enjoy the benefit of a higher profit margin/higher added value.BUT…a business must be cautious when choosing a supplier that is offering low prices.
59Potential problems from low-price suppliers The prices charged by the supplier may be low because:the quality of the raw materials is lowthe supplier may be unreliable in terms of meeting delivery datesthe supplier may be inflexible if a sudden change is neededthe supplier is in financial trouble and desperate to get a contractOverall, the business must consider how important price is to its own customers. If they are willing to pay high prices, low-price supplies are less important.
60Choosing suppliers: payment terms payment terms: arrangements made concerning the timing of payment and any other conditions agreed between buyer and seller.It is normal practice in the business world for credit to be offered to the buyer of supplies of materials. This means that payment is delayed, often by 28 or 30 days.There are two major reasons for this type of agreement:Buyers will want this type of agreement because there will be a delay between the purchase of the materials and the receipt of sales revenue from selling of the final product. This delay may cause cash-flow problems for the buyer.Suppliers will offer payment terms in order to get business. Offering payment terms to buyers should boost the supplier’s sales, as they will be chosen in preference to those not offering credit.
61Importance of payment terms This will depend on the situations of both buyer and supplier.If the supplier is manufacturing a component that takes a long time to produce, it is likely to need cash immediately and so it will not want to offer payment terms.If it is an organisation such as a wholesaler that has been given credit by the manufacturers, it will not be under pressure to get cash quickly. Therefore it can offer credit terms to its buyers.ConclusionCredit is most likely to be offered when buyers of supplies face cash-flow difficulties because the end product takes a long time to sell. Payment terms are less likely to be needed if the final product brings in sales revenue quickly.
62Choosing suppliers: quality In many industries, price competitiveness is being superseded by quality considerations. Therefore, quality is a critical factor to consider when choosing and working with a supplier.Key benefits of high-quality supplies are that they enable a business to produce high-quality products. These will:increase the volume of its salesincrease its selling price and probably its profit margincreate a unique selling point (USP)enhance its reputation and its customer and brand loyaltyreduce its manufacturing costs through elimination of waste
63Importance of qualityFor buyers, a poor-quality component or product can cause major damage to a manufacturer’s reputation.Overall, the significance of quality will depend on the product in question:For an economy brand that is sold on the basis of its low price, quality will be relatively unimportant.For a product being sold on the basis of its quality, the product itself and its components must meet high standards.
64Choosing suppliers: capacity capacity: the maximum possible output of an organisation.An organisation will need to be reassured that a supplier can meet the quantity of supply that it requires.If the supplier is providing a unique component or material that cannot be obtained from other sources, failure to supply might seriously damage the reputation of the buyer.If the supplier is providing a component or material that can be sourced from other suppliers, its capacity may be less critical.
65Choosing suppliers: reliability reliability: the extent to which the supplier meets the requirements of the buyer.Typically, reliability can be measured by the percentage of deliveries on time or the degree to which a supplier meets the terms of the contract to supply.For a manufacturer, an unreliable supplier can lead to the whole production line coming to a halt because a crucial material or component is not available.For a retailer, a failure to supply can affect its reputation. Customers will blame the retailer if they are unable to buy a product that they want.
66Choosing suppliers: flexibility There may be situations where an organisation radically needs to change its orders from suppliers — for example:sudden changes in demand for a productthe liquidation of a rival supplier, leaving buyers short of a product or componentIn these circumstances, an organisation will want its suppliers to be flexible enough to adapt to the changing circumstances.Flexibility is a reason why many large organisations do not buy all of their materials from one single source, even where one supplier could provide all of their needs.
67Role of suppliers in improving operational performance Suppliers can help a business to achieve each of its three main operational targets:Lower unit costs. An efficient supplier can offer low-priced materials, helping a customer/business to keep its own costs low.Higher quality. If the supplier is able to meet quality standards consistently, the buyer of the materials will find it easier to produce high-quality products.High capacity utilisation. A flexible supplier can allow a business to increase its capacity utilisation suddenly by supplying more supplies.Other possible benefits include:Suppliers may develop new products or materials.Suppliers may find ways of extending the life of a product.
68Porter’s value chain and suppliers According to Michael Porter in his book Competitive Advantage, a business can gain a competitive advantage in one of two ways:cost advantagedifferentiationWorking with suppliers, a business can achieve both of these benefits.The cost advantage comes from finding the supplier offering the lowest prices.Differentiation is achieved if a supplier is able to provide a unique product or material.
69Using technology in operations Chapter 27Using technology in operations
70Using technology in operations technology: the applications of practical, mechanical, electrical and related sciences to industry and commerce.Technology influences industry and commerce in many ways. Examples are:roboticsautomation (e.g. stock control)communicationsdesignIn groups, identify five aspects of business that have been affected by technology in recent years.Produce a report, based on your five aspects, highlighting:the benefits of the technology to businessesany problems for businesses using new technologyany benefits and problems for other people or organisations
71Robotics Uses of robotics: handling operations welding other production applications (e.g. dispensing liquid, painting and coating materials)assemblingpackaging and palletisingmeasurement, inspection and testinghazardous applications
72Automation: key termsautomation: the use of machinery to replace people in the production process, usually to carry out routine activities.computer-aided manufacturing (or manufacture) (CAM): the use of computers to undertake activities such as planning, operating and controlling production.
73Areas of operations management benefiting from technology Planning and controllingComputers can be used to plan the most efficient way of producing a product.Production can be monitored by the computer and remedial action taken if problems arise.OperatingCAM (computer-aided manufacture) has increased productivity and reduced the problems arising from human error.Flexible programming allows a fully automated line to produce different varieties.
74Technology and stock control Stock control is aided by technology in the following ways:Computer programs linked to statistics on patterns of consumer purchases allow firms to anticipate changes in stock levels more accurately. This reduces the possibility that a firm will run out of stock or build up unnecessarily high levels.Computerised systems allow organisations to recognise their current stock levels immediately, reducing the need for time-consuming manual checks.EPOS (electronic point of sale) systems monitor stock levels and can also order new stock from suppliers automatically when the stock has been reduced to a certain level (the ‘reorder level’).Organisations with many branches can also use technology to establish the locations where stock is being held.
75Technology and communications information and communication technology (ICT): the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications.Benefits of ICT are:It allows a firm to improve both internal and external communications, improving efficiency and the firm’s understanding of its market.Internal information can be processed and amended more quickly.Company intranets enable employees and, where necessary, suppliers and customers to access company information continually.Technology increases the speed of communication and the scope for greater responsibility. It allows firms to delayer and operate wider spans of control.Loyalty cards allows firms to accumulate information on the buying habits of their customers.
76The internet and operations The internet brings many possible advantages to firms that use it:It can eliminate the need for expensive high street premises.It can reduce the need for staff.It adds flexibility to business operations, which no longer need to fit in with traditional business structures.Data can be stored more cheaply and accessed more quickly.
77Technology and design: key terms computer-aided design (CAD): the use of computers to improve the design of products.CADCAM: an approach that combines computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacture, using IT to aid both the design and the manufacture of an item.
78Benefits arising from CAD or CADCAM Different ideas can be introduced and compared faster in a CAD system than in a manual one.Two-dimensional drawings can be transformed into three-dimensional images and rotated in order to demonstrate the whole range of possible views.Programs can simulate testing (e.g. wind tunnel simulations). This can save considerable sums of money by eliminating the production and testing of expensive prototypes.New products have been created by technology (e.g. mobile phones).
79Benefits of using technology in operations The main benefits are:reducing costsimproving qualityreducing wasteincreasing productivity
80Technology: reducing costs The use of technology to replace manual systems in areas such as planning, office work, manufacturing and stock holding has greatly reduced labour costs.ICT can be used in production planning in order to devise the most cost-effective way of manufacturing a product.Use of the internet enables businesses to locate away from expensive sites.
81Technology: improving quality Computer-based quality assurance systems can overcome the possibility of human error and also provide more rigorous scrutiny of quality.ICT enables businesses to understand customers’ requirements more fully and to adapt their products.The flexibility of IT (e.g. 24-hour access to automated teller machines) can improve the quality of the product and/or customer service.
82Technology: reducing waste Stock control systems ensure that orders are placed at the most appropriate time so that excessive stock levels do not build up.Integrated systems of stock control can also identify branches holding stock that may be needed by other branches.Many business activities can be carried out quicker with the benefit of technology, saving valuable time and money.
83Technology: increasing productivity Machines can work at a faster speed than humans.Computerised systems allow organisations to keep closer control over their stock levels, reducing the need for time-consuming manual checks and therefore reducing wage bills.ICT may be used to plan the most efficient approach to production. This enables the business to improve productivity.
84Other benefits of technology Flexibility. The adaptability of technology is now enabling businesses to provide an immediate response to consumers’ demands or sudden changes.Financial monitoring. ICT greatly improves the budgeting process and the monitoring of variances.New products. New and better products and services can be created through technology.Better working conditions — through factors such as reductions in the level of noise and greater control over working temperatures.
85Issues in introducing and updating technology (1) The use of new technology can also cause problems:People are often concerned by change. ICT can lead to job losses for workers in traditional skilled crafts. This causes stress for workers, so productivity may fall.ICT can undermine group morale by breaking up teams.For many firms, the most significant problem is the cost of new technology. Not only is it expensive to introduce, but also it needs regular updating.
86Issues in introducing and updating technology (2) The nature of technology is changing constantly. Consequently, there is a constant need to replace hardware and software, and to provide continuous training for staff, again adding to costs.Consumers can use the internet to compare prices. ICT has the potential to force prices and profits down.SummaryAn organisation needs to weigh up the pros and cons before deciding whether it should introduce or update its technology.Usually the short-term problems and costs must be weighed up against the long-term benefits.