Strategy and Implementation

Select a strategy:

The assumption is that enterprises goals and strategies guided the development of the alternatives, but those goals and strategies need to be highlighted again in selecting an operations strategy. The selected strategy must have strategic fit. It must help achieve the enterprise mission.

In addition, it must have organizational fit. The operation strategy must be implemented to be effective, and a brilliant strategy can fall flat if it does not fit the organization. The difficulties with organizational fit commonly occur with new and emerging technologies – product, process, or operations control where existing personnel or organizational structure is not well adapted to the strategy. Lack of organizational fit does not mean that the strategy is poor, but it may mean that it cannot be implemented now that some organizational development is necessary before one can hope for implementation.

One of the most common difficulties faced by operations managers occurs during the growth phase as the process technology evolves. If staff members have grown up with a system requiring customization, they often have difficulty adapting to the needs of a higher volume, more standardized system.

Implement the strategy:

The strategy developed must be communicated to everyone who has a role in its implementation. Policies and procedures must be established, role assignments made, and resources allocated in the form of budgets to achieve the results.

Since the technology and production environments constantly change in even the most stable industries, implementation is an ongoing process rather than a one shot allocation of resources. During the course of implementation and in the subsequent time periods, several decisions will have to be made. These decisions must be evaluated on criteria consistent with the operations strategy.

Of course, the criteria that define operations strategy may seem too broad to evaluate specific alternatives for a given decision. For example, the choice of equipment for which bids have been obtained from several vendors is most appropriately evaluated on specific criteria, such as capital cost, operating cost, versatility, set-up time, ease of installation, reject rate, vendor’s reputation and after sales service, and the like. However, a clear assessment must be made of how the equipment choice my influence operations priorities, even in a small way. This is because such incremental decisions, taken together, may result in an unconscious change in operations priorities resulting in a gradually widening gap between what operations can deliver and what the customers and the marketing group require.

The internalization of the manufacturing priorities and the corporate mission by the managers at all levels, including the work force, is the only way to ensure that the implementation indeed achieves the desired goods.

Corporate Level Operations Strategy:

Just as corporate strategy should not be simply an assemblage of SBU strategies. Neither should operations strategy be simplistically related at the SBU and corporate levels. The questions to be raised at the corporate level have to do with the possible interrelationships among the individual SBU operations strategies. These interrelationships are likely to be in terms of the products of one SBU that can be raw materials for another, the scale of operations, the location of capacities for interrelated items, and technology. An operations activity analysis that shows the value added at each stage and the interrelationships of materials, parts, and components for the corporation as a whole is useful.

Strategic Operations Management:

Once the strategy has been set, operations decisions must be made in a strategic way. Perhaps the most important reason for involving operations managers in the strategic planning process is to facilitate their strategic thinking so that the decisions for which the temptation to think ‘short term’ is greatest. This linking of short term decisions with long term objectives is an area where Japanese operations managers seem to get particularly high marks.