You are required to prepare a report that investigates the operations processes used in a small business organisation of your choice. You should not use large organisations or franchises nor an industry sector. You need to choose an operation to which you can obtain ready access or observe, and which will allow you to carry out each component of the analysis. In general, this requirement means that you will choose a business operation that is relatively accessible and where information on the operation is available from observation or is in the public domain.
Ask yourself: Can I draw a sufficiently detailed process map of the operation? Can I capture enough data to critically appraise the operation and make recommendations for improvement? The operation can be anywhere in the world. You can choose to investigate a part of an organisation (for example, in front of the house in a restaurant), but you should make your assumptions clear in the introduction. Some ideas of small business operations may include:
• A snack bar
• A street food vendor
• Bar / pub
• Small supermarket
• Corner shop/convenience shop
• Catering service
• Cobbler (shoe repairer)
• Dry cleaners/laundry
• The post office or post room
• Small print-shop
• Small sports venue
• Taxi company
• Walking Tours of a city
Other alternatives may be considered, however, please clear your choice with the module leader prior to commencement of the assessment and at the earliest possible opportunity.
1. Introduction and Overview (Total 15 marks)
Provide an overview of the organisation and its operations including such information as:
• The location
• Products and services offered
You must include a map showing the location of the main business operation, and a diagram communicating the layout of the operations. Ensure that you present and critically discuss operational issues related to the four bullet points above. For example, you should discuss, as it relates to bullet point “Layout”, the various types of process layouts as observed in the chosen operation, and how this affects the operations of the business e.g. in terms of customer service or product throughput.
2. The Operations Process (Total 25 marks)
Using appropriate tools, identify and analyse ONE key operations process within the business and why it is important to the business. In doing so, identify and provide an evaluation of the challenges and issues faced by the operation, clearly explaining which of these need to be addressed and why? Support your arguments through evidences gathered from the organisation and through literature.
This section should include:
Create a process map of the chosen operations process. It may be necessary to map the surrounding processes to get an appreciation for where this process fits within the wider operation. You do not need to use process mapping software. Presentation software such as PowerPoint or Keynote is perfectly adequate. Your process map must be contained within a single side of A4, landscape formatted. Use the process mapping concepts taught in the course.
Four V’s Profile
Create a Four Vs profile of the operations process and explain each aspect of the profile. Explain why you think the profile looks the way it does, and what it implies for the nature of the operations process.
Use an operations performance objectives map (polar diagram) to communicate your assessment of the current operations process performance. You may show required and actual performance, as well as perhaps the performance of comparable / competing processes.
Use your process map, Four Vs profile, performance map and any other illustration to support and illustrate your analysis, and to evaluate key aspects of the operations process including highlighting the operations challenges or problems. At the end of this section, the reader should have a thorough understanding of the operations process, process performance, and the related operations challenge or problem.
3. Operations Analysis (Total 25 marks)
The core of the assignment is to analyse the operation and chosen operations process using ONE or TWO tools, concepts or techniques provided on this module. This is where you focus on the operations challenge and/or problems briefly discussed previously. This should consist of a brief overview of your methodology followed by the main analysis.
Methodology (5 marks)
In completing your methodology briefly evaluate what theory, concepts, tools and techniques will be used to address these challenges and problems, and how you will apply them. You should mention where you have obtained the data used e.g. from own observation, public domain information, survey work, interviews, discussions with customers/managers and from any secondary sources that might be available. The purpose of this section is to explain your methodology for data collection and analysis.
Analysis (20 marks)
This is the main analysis where you take your theory, concepts and/or tools, and apply to the chosen operation to understand the challenges and/or problems, and impact on the operation. What you write here will depend on the choices made earlier. For example, you might write about the application of a specific method of analysis such as a cycle time analysis, or the application of a concept/practice such as supply network design which includes decisions on facilities location, sourcing strategies and logistics.
Note: Do not replicate in this section the Four Vs or operations performance objectives analysis done previously. Keen students will actually go beyond the module content and carry out further reading into the topic areas of interest. Evidence of this additional research will be rewarded.
4. Evaluation of Operations (Total 10 marks)
As a result of the analysis above, what can you say about the operation, and chosen operations process? This will highlight the key outputs from the analysis done, and should identify at least one aspect of the operations process that is either suboptimal or could be improved. Drawing on theory, critically examine why the aspect you have chosen is suboptimal / in need of improvement. You can view this section as an evaluation of the implications or findings of the main analysis above.
5. Recommendations (Total 10 marks)
What recommendations would you make about how to improve the operation? You will need to identify 2 to 3 improvements based on the analysis in the previous sections, that is, there should be a clear link between the work done, the operations issues identified previously, and the described improvements.
6. Conclusion (Total 10 marks)
Summarise the work done, the main findings of your analysis and your key recommendations.