Business Simulation Project
The purpose of this report is to provide detail and insight into the personal assumptions I have drawn and conclusions I have made as a result of taking part in the simulation group project. As such, much of the discussion and examination which is provided below relies heavily on my own experience of the business simulation and the specific role I undertook.
However, in addition to offering assessment of my own experiences of the business simulation and judgements I drew as a consequence of participation, this report also aims to base such discussion on the wider frameworks which underlie operations management in business activities. Moreover, by highlighting my own experiences in the simulation on the basis of theoretical applications in operations management, this work aims to account for whether such applications were beneficial for me. Thus, through my own experience it will be possible to see whether academic assessments of operations management have relevance in actual practical undertakings.
Given the aims outline above, this report is structured in such a way as to give a full exploration of the various issues and concerns at hand and provide comprehensive assessments. As such, the first section provides an in-depth examination of the theoretical prescriptions which underlie operations management by drawing on a variety of sources in a way which provides concrete academic support to theoretical assessments. Following this, section two will offer a detailed outline of my own experiences encountered during the simulation. Such assessment will focus not only the actual experiences that I had, but also the various positive and negative assumptions I drew from the simulation, both in terms of effective operations management techniques and the roles and efforts of others in the group. Finally, section three will attempt unite the two previous sections in a manner which offers understanding of my personal experiences on the basis of theoretical prescriptions on operation management. Thus, in doing so it will be possible to highlight the degree to which theory and practice interact with one another and the extent to which theoretical ideas are important in the physical processes of operation management. Finally, a concluding section ties together all the discussions and assessments provided throughout in a way which provides a comprehensive examination of the primary issues at hand.
2.0 Theoretical assumptions and prescriptions in operations management
This section provides insight into the theory which underlies operations management processes and thus provides the foundation for practical implementation of operation management techniques.
In terms of definitional parameters, operations management practice is based on a fairly clear set of assumptions which highlight where such management should take place and the organisational setting in which it primarily occurs.
Above all, every business organisation deals in products or in particular offer a product to a particular market. Naturally, many organisations offer physical products which are tangible in nature such as cars, televisions furniture. Other organisations provide products which are less tangible in nature but nonetheless remain the result of concerted product production on the part of the organisation (Mullins; 2002). Thus, examples of product production of this kind might include those involved in the implementation of educational programmes or charitable support for vulnerable people (Mullins; 2002). Therefore, it is possible to see that all organisations whether private or public in nature aim to offer specific products to a market place in the hope that people will consume and make use of such products. Whether such product production takes place on a basis of profit accumulation is largely unimportant here. What is important is to highlight that every organisation has a product they wish to offer.
As such, organisations which at first may appear to be entirely unique and separate from one another all engender similar characteristics in relation to the production and dispersal of products. Furthermore, the development of such products occurs on the basis of variable operations within the organisation. As such, every organisation which offers a product will have a set of operations which aim to create and disperse the product offered by the organisation (Waters; 2002). The manner in which such operations are designed, organised, planned, controlled and implemented is what is of primary concern to project management. (Waters; 2002).
Therefore, project management is essentially the way in which organisations manage the development of their products from beginning to conclusion. Thus, managing a plethora of different inputs and variables with the aim of producing a clearly defined end product, which fits the requirements specified by the organisation and the needs of the customer market at which it is aimed is the essential aim.
2.2 Importance of operations management
It is worth giving brief assessment to why operations management is increasingly viewed as being essential in to a whole variety of organisations.
In recent years the importance of operations management has been propelled to a significant degree. This increase in importance can be attributed for a number of reasons. Firstly, since the 1980s the focus on privatised competition as the most favourable method of economic growth has meant that a whole host of utilities and large scale heavy industries now engender the same kind of product focus as everyone else (Shim & Siegel; 1999). Moreover, this mentality to view competition and choice in the market place as being the most beneficial method to success for both productive organisations and customers has also pervaded the social policy agenda. Thus, operations management is now of increasing relevance in areas such as education, welfare and health (Shim & Siegel; 1999). Furthermore, the onset of wide scale lasses faire capitalist economic functions and ongoing economic globalisation has meant that levels of competition across a variety of areas has dramatically increased (Shim and Siegel; 1999). However, one issue above all ranks as the most important in explaining the development in importance of operations management; the customer. Above all, meeting customer needs in the wake of wide scale national and international choice has meant that organisations are more reliant than ever on ensuring effective product production (Slack & Lewis; 2002). Indeed, As Colin Marshall the former head of British Airways said, “The simple principle is that the company exists to serve its customers long into the future.” (Waters, 2002; p.28). Thus, carrying out detailed operational management techniques on the basis of clearly defined theoretical foundations has become vital.
2.3 Theoretical assumptions and foundations of operation management
Given the diverse array of inputs and variables that are intrinsic to effective operation management a number of key theoretical foundations underlie practical implementation. Generally speaking, such theory basis can be structured around the following concerns.
Firstly, an organisation will be required to undertake the initial planning stage of development. Such planning would not only include theoretical concepts of practical implementation, but also issues concerning the accurate assessment of demand (Waters; 2002). However, the initial planning process would inevitably require the outline of the overall process through which the product is to be produced (Water; 2002).
Following this initial stage, it would then be necessary for an organisation to provide more detailed assessments on the on planning. Such progression would include a detailed outline of how to make the operational process as efficient as possible and thus ensure that all sections of the process work in conjunction in an effective manner (Slack & Lewis; 2002). Moreover, the detailed planning stage of the operation development of a specific product would require that both long and short term undertakings are clearly highlighted and accounted for in detail. Thus, determining something like long term capacity would be essential along with shorter term issues such as resource allocation scheduling (Waters; 2002).
Given the various theoretical foundations on which effective practical implementation operations management is based, carrying out comprehensive and detailed management actions is essential. Indeed, the title ‘operation management’ itself denotes that this subject is primarily the concern of managers, thus management principles and the processes which engender effective outcomes is naturally of considerable concern. Thus, operations management in many ways combines both normal business concepts along with specific management concerns (Shim & Siegel; 1999).
As such, the role and responsibilities of managers in the overall operation is vital and based on a number of different requirements and theoretical applications. For example, managers are responsible for the overall planning of a product. Thus, this would include the setting of clearly defined goals and objectives along with matters pertaining to time (Waters; 2002). Also, management in an operation must be able to effectively organise the people and resources of an organisation in a way which makes the organisation well placed for achieving desired aims (Waters; 2002). Resource allocation thus also acts as an essential concern for management. Naturally, managers are also vital for ensuring that other staff are acting in the most effective way possible for the overall product. This might include ensuring that specific staff are directed to an area suited to their skills and abilities, along with offering direction and motivation of staff when it is required (Mullins; 2002). In addition, making sure that staff are informed of ongoing development, targets and progress is vital. Thus, management act as the essential link between the overall operation and the staff which are required to undertake it. Furthermore, management responsibilities in the operation of product development would require that continuous assessment and examination of the operation is undertaken in a way which allows for the most beneficial results. Monitoring operation activity both in terms of actual product and staff is therefore essential for overall success.
3.0 Personal reflection and account of business simulation
This section will outline the personal experiences which I gained as a result of taking part in the business simulation. However, before detailed assessments of personal assumptions are discussed, it is prudent to offer a brief outline of the form and structure which the simulation took.
3.1 Form and structure of simulation
The simulation consisted of four members; operation manager; finance manager; marketing manager and managing director. The group was given £500 million to engage in an effective product development. It was decided that the product to be developed would take place in the car industry. The name given to the simulation was ‘elegance’.
Elegance had a number of aims and objectives which centred on producing an excellent product for the customer. As such, central aims of the operation were;
- creating a company with difference
- allowing the operation to have a strong competitive advantage over others
- establish a company which customers come to respect and rely on
- build brand loyalty
- ensure a large market share
- create brand awareness
- ensure unique and reliable brand
- increase sales every year over a 10 year period
- ensure that all departments work in conjunction in order to achieve the best overall results
In pursuit of these aims ‘elegance’ created four models of car over the ten year period. Numerous problems were initially encountered with early models due to a premature launch. However, continuous assessment and examination of progress and operational procedures was undertaken and therefore elegance was able to carry out changes as we went along. Such changes created beneficial outcomes in certain respects. We also undertook market perception reports, market research data and data on competition in order to achieve greater productivity and effectiveness in the market.
3.2 Personal reflections on the simulation
During the simulation I experienced a variety of different things. Some of these pleased me however others I found frustrating and annoying. This section will thus provide comprehensive assessment of the experiences I had.
An initial feeling I had was that at the outset the simulation contained far too much theoretical prescriptions and not enough practical endeavour. However, as time went on both me and the other members of the team began to enjoy the simulation. Also, it became clear to me in the later stages of the simulation how important the theoretical prescriptions were to the actual practical implementation of the simulations plan. Moreover, the overall structure and assessment process of the simulation I found to be most effective and beneficial. For example, the use of a group presentation as a form of assessment was particularly effective. Above all, the group presentation made me appreciate the importance of such methods as a way of developing ideas and forming relationships with others in the group. Also, the use of a group presentation meant that the four members of the group had to work together for the same overall aims and objectives. This then engendered the necessary processes of team work and collaboration required for the effective practical implementations of the simulation itself.
As such, the group presentation and the overall simulation process meant that the forging of effective methodology and cooperation in the group was essential. Above all, this was the primary benefit of the simulation. This process took on a number of different forms and characteristics. For example, it was necessary in the simulation for various different ideas to be proposed by different people. As such, the discussions of the various different ideas often created concerted debate among the group. However, effectively establishing fair and effective processes for discussing various options and possibilities was something which the group largely failed to develop.
Nonetheless, although the group did collectively attempt to deal with problems, it was nevertheless the case that a variety of conflict issues arose. The primary problem was that all four people in the simulation had a different job to do and thus different responsibilities. Moreover, it was difficult for some individual members of the group to see the overall picture and given the different responsibilities for each member I felt it was difficult to organise people efficiently.
In addition, some members of the group failed to carry the responsibilities assigned to them as well as others. Foremost among these was the marketing manager who consistently complained about knowing very little on marketing. As such, for two years of the simulation we did not have marketing reports.
Nonetheless, although various problems existed in the group, it was nevertheless the case that we learnt from mistakes. Indeed, the process though which we achieved better results could generally be described as being that of trial and error. Although this is naturally a rather haphazard way of approaching the operation simulation is nonetheless did produce effective results. Thus, the end justified the means in many respects.
In terms of actually meeting the stated aims of the simulation, I think that ‘elegance’ achieved some successes but failed in other areas. For example, the aim of meeting the customers’ expectations and ensuring customer satisfaction were I feel largely met. However, serious mistakes were made with regard to pricing and these were to have significant repercussions for the overall operation simulation. This failure I think can be attributed to the finance manager who was responsible for ensuring that the various car productions were properly and effectively financed. The failure to do this effectively in relation to the luxury car resulted in massive financial loss for the company. Indeed, the luxury car cost £80,000 to produce; however, it was only possible to sell it for £30,000. Therefore, although customer satisfaction was certainly achieved this did not occur in conjunction with financial reward for the company.
I of course accept that I made a variety of mistakes along with those of others outlined above. Indeed, I think it is important to once again highlight the degree to which both myself and other members of the group learnt from the various mistakes that were made. As such, my overall conclusion on the simulation operation project was that it was most useful in highlighting the various issues and concerns of operation management and the ways in which it is best carried out.
4.0 Critical comparison of theory and personal reflection
During the course of the simulation it became abundantly clear to me that there is clear link between theoretical assumptions and practical applications in operation management. Indeed, as suggested above, at first the group found theoretical assumptions rather boring and considered them to be unimportant in many respects. On reflection it is now very clear that the practical problems which emerged during the simulation process came about as a direct consequence of this failure to effectively appreciate the importance of theoretical assumptions.
In particular, as suggested above, conflict in the group was a consistent problem throughout the simulation. However, theoretical assumptions in operation management dedicate considerable time to various processes of conflict resolution (Waters; 2002). Establishing a clear framework on which to effectively deal with differences of opinion would therefore have been hugely beneficial to the simulation. Thus, if the group had directly applied theoretical concepts then it would have been of enormous benefit to this practical problem.
Furthermore, the failure personified in the luxury car essentially came about because of a complete lack of effective planning. Had planning been undertaken to outline comprehensive and detailed assessment pertaining to costing then it would have possible to see the discrepancy in the finance of the luxury car. Moreover, better market knowledge would have meant that we would have known what sort of price the car could be sold for once it had been produced. Once again, theory in project management places huge emphasis on effective planning (Waters; 2002). Costing concerns as theoretical prescriptions are also of great importance (Waters; 20020. Therefore, had the group properly understood the theory which underlies issues such as finance and market environment then the serious problems which emerged with regards to the luxury car could have been avoided.
Another problem which was encountered was effectively ensuring that each member of the group carried out the various responsibilities assigned to them. As such, management theory such as that discussed in section 2.3 of this work would have been hugely beneficial. Ensuring that all members of the operation team work collectively whilst simultaneously carrying out their individual tasks is an essential part of operation management theory and it is something that we did not take into account.
As suggested earlier, the group did develop over time to learn from previous mistakes. As such, the theoretical concept of progression and development in operation management was undertaken in the simulation. However, such conclusions whould not have been required had the correct theoretical processes been undertaken from the start. Ultimately, my personal experience of the simulation and the outcomes witnessed in relation to ‘elegance’ clearly highlight the extent to which theory in operation management is absolutely essential in order for effective practical processes to be undertaken. It is a lesson which both I and the other members of the group will certainly bear in mind in the future.
In conclusion, this report has highlighted the various theoretical prescriptions which underlie operation management and also provided a clear outline of what is involved in operation management undertakings. In addition, the experiences encountered during the simulation have been discussed in depth along with the way in which such experiences can be directly accounted for through the use of theory. Above all, I think it is important to once again highlight the clear and unambiguous link between theory and practice in operation management. Indeed, the example of ‘elegance’ clearly indicates the practical problems which can emerge when theory is not effectively understood and accounted for.
Mullins, L (2002) Management and Organisational Behaviour. 6th Edition, London: Prentice Hall.
Shim, J.K & Siegel, J.G (1999) Operations Management. London: Barron’s Education Series.
Slack N & Lewis M (2002) Operations strategy. London: Pearson.
Waters D (2002) Operations Management. 2nd Edition, London: Pearson.