Operations Management to the Organizers of This Term Paper

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Operations Management

To the Organizers of this Major Sporting Event:

At this present juncture of your endeavors, of course all of you are experiencing the inevitable pre-event jitters -- do we have enough sponsors, will all of the athletes 'come through' with their major commitments, etc. Perhaps you are even worried about prospective wardrobe failures of the event's halftime show. However, although good publicity and cooperation from all the necessary parties concerned certainly plays into the managing of a successful event, a sound theoretical overview and organizational paradigm can be helpful to have as an additional form of damage control.

When all things do not go as swimmingly as desired, or things need to be rescheduled more tightly, Critical Path Analysis is helpful. In fact, from the very onset of organizing a time-dependent event, Critical Path Analysis is one of the most effective time management paradigms an organization can employ. Critical Path Analysis is a powerful tool to help organizers to schedule and manage any complex project -- which a major sporting event certainly can be classified as, given its many component organizational parts and networks of operations. Critical Path Analysis or CPA as it is often called was developed in the 1950s in America by the government to control large contractual defense projects, and often the management of a large sporting event can indeed feel like a battlefield campaign.

Critical Path Analysis was designed as a method of spatial planning for all tasks that must be completed as part of a potential project and to act as a basis for the preparation of schedules as well as for resource planning and deployment over the course of a project's evolution in time. During management of a project, CPA demands the constant and regular monitoring of achievement of specific, timely project goals. Such an approach is designed to strategically prevent delays in scheduling so that actions can be taken immediately to get a project back on its designated and specific course.

CPA is thus ideal for planning a sporting event because there are so many different timetables for the different elements -- coordinating the televised sponsorship, halftime events, the stadium management and crowd control, even taking precautions against terrorist activities in this day and age of political uncertainty. And that list of different schedules alone does not take into consideration the management of the coaches, handlers, and members of the teams in question.

The benefit of using Critical Path Analysis is that it formally identifies tasks that must be completed on time. This enables the whole project to be completed on time, so that critical but small parts of the project do not hold up other parts of the project.

The CPA technique also identifies tasks can be delayed for a while if resource needs to be reallocated to catch up on missed tasks. It thus clearly identifies the minimum length of time needed to complete a project. To accelerate the overall timetable of the project, doing a CPA analysis can also help identify which project steps should be accelerated to complete the project within the available time when attempting to minimize costs.

To make a Critical Path Analysis chart, first one must list all activities in the plan, show each component's earliest start date, estimated length of time it will take, and note if the activities involved are parallel (happening at the same time) or sequential (dependant upon previous tasks occurring). If tasks are sequential, one must show which stage they depend on. Then, one must lot the activities as a circle and arrow diagram, using circle and arrow diagrams, showing how the different events proceed in sequence, or linearly, at the same time.

Works Cited

Mind Tools. (2004). Critical Path Analyses: CPA. Website maintained by Mind Tools, 1995-2004. Retrieved on May 30, 2004 at http://www.mindtools.com/critpath.html

Question

Benchmarking is the process of determining who sets the standard and what that standard is when measuring and managing productivity within an organization or an industry. Benchmarking is the operational process of determining who is the very best, who sets the standard, and what that standard is. In baseball, one could argue that on a quantitative basis seven consecutive World Series Championships once made the New York Yankees the benchmark of baseball but their recent failures shows that they are now longer the benchmark. Now, however, not only are the benchmark team of baseball in doubt, but also many of the benchmarks of lead industries.

One recent industry example of a firm that used benchmarking to a notably successful fashion, however, was Xerox. Xerox has an "almost religious belief in the processes of benchmarking and sharing best practices. Benchmarking at Xerox was achieved not by guesswork or reputation but by the numbers..."like a lot of companies, Xerox usually applied benchmarking to the cost side of the ledger. But Xerox "got the idea of doing it on the revenue side." (Stewart, 1996) By making it a business process to re-engineer its measuring of productivity through an innovative use of benchmarking on its sales side of accounting, Xerox was able to instate workplace reforms that increased its overall revenue as a company.

To reengineer its analytical structure, Xerox split its analysts into teams that gathered all kinds of sales data, making country-by-country comparisons of different products and methods of operations. "It took just a couple of weeks to find eight cases in which one country dramatically outperformed the others. Somehow France sold five times more color copiers than its sister divisions. Switzerland's sales of Xerox's top-of-the-line DocuPrint machines -- digital copiers that can receive documents electronically and store them so you can make copies at any time -- were ten times greater than those of any other country." Individuals from Xerox were sent to those components of the company to understand why these countries were benchmarks. Then the individuals were told to come back and attempt to employ the principles they observed into Xerox's overall operations. (Stewart, 1996)

Thus, by making quantitative rather than subjective data analysis of benchmarks the core of the analysis, even when non-quantitative ideas were being addressed, somewhat along the lines of Jack Walsh's successful implementation of Six Sigma strategy at GE, Xerox was able to substantially increase its revenue over the next five years within the industry. This trend to employ quantitative methodology of understanding productivity to sales data has become one of the hot trends of the industry of the major technological behemoths, given the success of Xerox and GE. The success of Xerox and the Six Sigma strategy of GE's own trademarked form of benchmarking through quantitative analysis of qualitative as well as quantitative data has proved to be a constant and successful trend. GE's Six Sigma of course tends to focus on identifying problems, while Xerox's successful strategy was to focus on what works and how to employ what works more systematically through the industry. Still, the stress upon using the numbers regarding sales data to find benchmarks, remains important in industry analysis, particularly in the technology field, where it is often difficult to determine what customers want through customer articulation, although customers are more interested in 'what works' in these industries rather than more subjective and less definable products, unlike industry leaders focused on selling home and personal body care products.

Works Cited

Stewart, Thomas. (October 28, 1996). "Beat the Budget and Astound your CFO." Fortune Magazine. Retrieved on May 30, 2004 at http://management.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ&sdn=management&zu=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.fortune.com%2Ffortune%2Farticles%2F0%252C15114%252C380149%252C00.html

Question

According to many automotive shop owners, the very notion of inventory control is a contradiction in terms, translating frequently into extra paperwork and heated conversations with the shop's bookkeeper over cost, markup, and profitability of the items sold. Rick Lavely, a veteran shop owner of automotive service industry since 1968, who has owned and operated a full service station and an independent repair shop decided to do something about the problems he saw specific to the industry. First of all, to improve industry control, he asked what is the purpose of inventory at an auto shop? "Many shop owners think it's there to facilitate shop operation by reducing rack time and increasing gross profit. In reality, however, inventory exists to improve your level of service. How? The right amount of the right part numbers will provide you with what you need when you need it, without enormous stress on your operating capital." (Lavely, 1996) For instance, if a shop frequently makes brake repairs, have a large stock of brake pads for the cars serviced, as opposed to other, more esoteric parts in cars that are seldom serviced by the shop.

In the auto shop industry, there are two basic methods of inventory monitoring. The first is "Last In First Out" or LIFO. This means that when there is more than one of a given part number, such as brake pads, one sells the last one received, first. The rationale behind this system is that the newest is probably the most expensive, as many automotive parts, such as brake pads, have a…[continue]

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