There are numerous operations management textbooks in publication and coming up with something new and different is a daunting task. Before writing this book we felt it was important to understand what the purpose of this book would be and where it would fit in the already busy market. It is always best to practice what you preach and luckily for us writing a text book is itself an exercise in operations management and, like all good operations managers, at the outset we realised we needed an operations strategy to guide the book.
One of the key strategic activities when designing something is to understand the trade-offs. Designing a product is an exercise in compromise as no product can be everything to everyone. We discovered there are several trade-offs in designing an operations management textbook; between the need for a compact text and the need for comprehensive coverage; between the use of older, established and still relevant material and the inclusion of newer, less well-known but more useful material; between theoretical rigour and ease of practical application; and between depth of detail for the specialist student versus scope of coverage for the generalist.
The decisions taken in balancing these trade-offs are made more difficult by the way the field of operations management is currently evolving. It is moving away from a discrete and manufacturing focused subject (concerned with materials control, capacity planning and production scheduling), towards a more service focused, wide-ranging subject that encompasses pretty much all the activity of a modern business. We believe that by considering these trade-offs we have made the correct decisions for this textbook.
In our choices we believe that we have added some new content that is becoming increasingly important to the field of operations management and so deserves to be brought into the fold. Firstly the recognition of the larger strategic context and the increasing importance of operations strategy and its strong links with corporate strategy; and the inclusion of innovation as a practice. Secondly, we also have emphasised the importance that design plays in product, process, supply chain and services, and how it affects the costs and value created for customers. Thirdly we treat the management of operations with fresh topics such as the need for increasing integration, lean and agile thinking, good project management and the use of technological solutions for planning. And fourthly, we look into the future of operations management by providing an insight into improvement approaches and tools, performance measurement and provide an emphasis on careers of operations managers and the profession of operations management as a whole.
This book is therefore intended to be; accessible to the student with no prior knowledge of operations but still useful to the experienced operations manager; contemporary in its approach but respectful of the classics; and theoretically rigorous but useful to practitioners.
The key aims of the text are to:
- Explore fundamental operations management principles that are applicable to both manufacturing and service situations
- Offer a contemporary and novel treatment of the core subject areas in operations management
- Reflect recent developments in operations management theory and practice
- Provide a balanced approach to services Vs manufacturing and qualitative Vs quantitative coverage
- Integrate theory and practice throughout via the use of plentiful practical examples, worked examples and superior cases
- Encourage students to read/engage with the material in an interactive way through pedagogical punctuation
- Highlight key developments and practices in the last 5 – 10 years by recognising the changing world of operations management and in particular emphasises the themes of Globalisation, Business Integration and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Our intention has been to provide well-chosen content that maps easily and directly onto a typical course in operations management, thereby conveying a sense of value and relevance to students and lecturers alike. This text is targeted at both undergraduate and postgraduate audiences and offers a complete course in operations management, without requiring any prior knowledge. It is designed to be used in standalone shorter courses or as an integral part of a contemporary degree in business and management.
This book therefore seeks to overcome the main challenges lecturers and instructors face in delivering an operations management module, which are; what subjects to teach, what level to teach them at and how to make them relevant and interesting.
Overview of the Book
This book is organised into 4 sections Directing, Designing, Managing and Improving to reflect the current nature of operations managers’ roles:
Section 1 Directing
This section introduces the principles, theory and concepts and in operations management. Broadly speaking it deals with the strategic issues which senior operations managers must consider in their decision making. It therefore interfaces with other management disciplines such as Strategic Management, Marketing and Innovation. This book takes the view that Operations is the ‘engine’ that drives the business therefore to guide the business effectively senior management must have a good understanding of the capabilities of that ‘engine’.
Chapter 1 introduces the strategic environment that operations exists within and aims to provide an understanding of the decision making processes that guide the company and that operations managers must support. Only by understanding the techniques used at corporate level can operations managers shape activity at the operational level to fit coherently with the company strategy.
Chapter 2 while strategic in theme, this chapter focuses more closely on the strategic dimension of operations management itself looking at the concepts which will help operations managers to formulate useful strategies and take the correct decisions about the shape of the conversion process that will in turn support and enable the overall corporate strategy.
Chapter 3 deals with the topic of innovation, an area that is quickly becoming strategic in nature and a strong understanding of this is crucial to formulating strategy at both at the operational and corporate levels. These days in many industries a good innovation strategy is becoming critical to organisational success.
Section 2 Designing
All operational systems, simple or complex must be designed. This section includes the practices and methods which help put together the systems, processes, products, and services that operations management is based upon:
Chapter 4 looks at supply chain management in a more contemporary. It introduces supply networks and how they are designed and also considers the management of enterprises. Firstly it presents the differences between supply chains, networks and enterprises. Then the theoretical background is discussed and practical techniques introduced to help in decision making both strategically and tactically. Trends such as outsourcing and supplier rationalisation are also dealt with.
Chapter 5 takes a closer look on how products and services can be designed in order for companies to stay competitive. It covers strategies and techniques which companies use to develop innovative product and service solutions and also looks at more contemporary approaches, such as modularity and service architecture. Only by understanding the new product and service development processes can organisations devise the best strategies to ensure that the correct solutions can be introduced to the market. Strong design capability is a key advantage in the struggle to stay ahead of the competition.
Chapter 6 introduces the importance of process thinking in operations management. It describes the theoretical background to processes and how they impact upon order processing, operations layout and operational practices. Techniques for modelling, designing and improving business processes are given and the role of technology is explained.
Section 3 Managing
This section explains the tools and techniques which ensure an operation, once up and running, will continue to operate smoothly and efficiently on a day-to-day basis:
Chapter 7 discusses the concepts of capacity and how an organisation deals with constraints on what it can produce. It discusses the nature of capacity and how it can be matched with varying or unpredictable demand. Methods of forecasting are considered and the chapter evaluates strategies for services and queuing techniques.
Chapter 8 focuses on issues that operations managers need to consider when managing supply chains and supply relationships and looks at various strategies to balance agility and efficiency in supply relationships and supply chain management of services and products. It is crucial for the managers to have an overview of the activities and processes that take place when goods and services are produced, from the suppliers to the final customers. As the goal of all companies is to ensure that their customers are satisfied, it is important that the flow of goods and services take place as smoothly as possible in the supply network.
Chapter 9 extends the ideas of the supply chain and looks at how to manage the flow of materials in the internal part of the operation. Today this is largely achieved using highly computerised and integrated systems under the heading Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).
Chapter 10 examines the contribution of lean techniques to the operational system and how they can help develop highly responsive dependent demand systems, which essentially respond to variations in demand. So we can define a lean system as a highly efficient process which produces products and services in the desired quantities, exactly when they are needed. It also discusses the limitations of the lean approach and so allows a more realistic assessment of what can be applied by managers in the real world.
Chapter 11 introduces project management and deals with a unique set of problems facing those organisations which instead of repeating the same operations each day, find themselves undertaking just one activity before moving onto something completely different. In order to manage projects effectively, project managers rely on administrative skills to ensure the time, cost and performance criteria of the project are met and also teamwork and leadership. It moves away from just focusing on the tools of project management and allows the reader to adopt frameworks and learn of the organisational and leadership elements of project management.
Section 4 Improving
No operation can succeed by standing still. A key feature of operations management is the need to continually adapt to changing market conditions while improving performance and enhancing the competitiveness of the firm - this section deals with the issues that arise due to these requirements:
Chapter 12 introduces performance management as a process and a tool for decision-making and action-taking specifically related to the identification and achievement of quantifiable goals, from corporate to individual. It demonstrates how operations management links to corporate strategy delivery. It illustrates how suitable measures and systems are created, and how they can be used effectively to engender performance improvement.
Chapter 13 introduces some key concepts of quality management and illustrates why quality performance is important and a central issue for all organisations. It illustrates why quality is becoming more challenging to manage as the demands from customers and the environment become more complex. Companies seek to incorporate all aspects of quality into the products and services they offer, and in doing so; they rely on quality management tools so they can monitor, control and improve the operational processes. This chapter also investigates the various approaches and tools used in quality management, performance and improvement, and in doing so provides a comprehensive introduction to nominal distribution and application of SPC charts.
Chapter 14 is a summary chapter that brings together the important themes in the book – which are corporate social responsibility (CSR), business integration and globalisation. This chapter investigates these themes more comprehensively before discussing their future impact on careers and the profession of operations management.