To What Extend Is Operations Management a Strategic Activity?

Published: 2021-09-13 08:55:09
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The core competences of a company are what make it different from its rivals and thus gain competitive advantage. Let’s take the car industry, their product is the same but the difference lies in their operation. “however important production design and performance may be, highly efficient operations are the key to keeping costs down and achieving high levels of quality”. (Pilkington, 2007). Actually the competences which are present in the operations are determinant for the success of a strategy. An example in the manufacturing sector is Toyota, which created the Just in
Time system, to face uncertain supply of materials, thus saving cost on inventory and created a high-quality production system. QUALITY Quality is a measurable feature to show reliability, consistency, fitness, conformity to standards. Juran (1988) defined quality as ‘fitness for purpose or use’, which is meets specific objectives that needs to be achieved. Quality is important to sustain business activities as an unsatisfactory product is equal to Bad reputation for the firm. There are many management approaches to quality; all having different philosophies and one of them is TQM.
TQM – Total quality management is a collection of approaches from Japanese firms and different quality gurus to make a quality strategy. TQM is the creation of quality culture within the firm, having as main goal performance improvement. It has a Management led approach, aiming at getting things right at the first time by eliminating variations. Quality control is a very important process for products where specifications are important. The traditional approach to quality control was to produce, then check and then sell products meeting specifications and rejects those not meeting the specifications.
The TQM approach to quality control aim for zero defects, this by reducing variation from the production process. To maximize quality, variation should be minimized. Variation is sometimes called the fundamental cause of poor quality (Evans, 1989). By minimizing variations, quality is thus being increase and production cost is also optimize as there are less rejects, thus helping essentially for the survival of the company in this increasing competitive world. However there are some companies that prefer a certification that recognize that the company is using a quality system.
ISO 9000 certification is one of the most widespread recognize and awarded quality certification in the world. To be certified ISO 9000 a company must show that they have a quality system and procedures that are being followed. Having such a quality certification give the company advertising benefits and their purchaser save money and time as there is no need to quality tests them. For example Hotel chain Ritz- Carlton it was more meaningful for them to have a perfect individual service, proving such by obtaining the Malcolm Baldridge Quality Award than the quality of food they offer.
However quality is not achieved for a life time, it has to be maintain and is not only the responsibility of the managers but of the whole company. Therefore Empowerment is crucial. Empowerment is the giving of more power, leading to more autonomy. Everybody in the company need to be empowered to know, describe, measure, improve the process and make it reliable. Salegna and Fazel (2000) identified the lack of real employee empowerment as being an obstacle to TQM systems.

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