PGBM133 Managing Sustainability and Operational Excellence
Module Leader: Neil Coade
Canvas & JIRA Deadline: Tuesday 9th March 2021 by 2 pm
Any work submitted is subject to the University’s Misconduct Regulations
Upon successful completion of this module, students will have demonstrated:
K1. A critical understanding of some of the tools and techniques which underpin existing principles and practice, and then make recommendations in order to improve sustainability and operational excellence.
K2. Detailed understanding of the operation processes by which organizations achieve sustainability and operational excellence in the markets.
K3. Appreciation of the rationale of major decisions that organizations make in order to satisfy sustainability and operational excellence needs in a range of diverse contents.
S1. The ability to select, critically evaluate, and apply a range of approaches to enhance sustainability and operational excellence in business.
S2. The competence to identify and demonstrate resourceful decisions and solutions, towards sustainability and operational excellence management in various business sectors.
S3. The ability to Interpret, record, and analyze data relating to sustainability and operational excellence management in business.
All learning outcomes are assessed using the following assignment.
Contribution to unit assessment: 100% weighting
Subject: Individual analysis of ‘Executive Holloware’ case study (Appendix A)
Assignment guidance notes:
- The assignment must be presented in a form that complies with the basic conventions of a report format (see Guide to Basic Study Skills).
- An electronic copy must be submitted to Turnitin via “Canvas” by the hand in date.
3. Word count 4000 (+/- 10%)
- Front Sheet – Name / Student Number / Programme / Module / Date
- Table of Contents
- Main Body of Report – Critical evaluation and analysis of relevant theory and practice related to the case study (all assignment questions are compulsory).
- References – 10 to 20
- Appendix – not included in word count
Business Report Structure – 4000 words +/- 10% Size 12 font, spacing 1.5, include a word count.
The criteria for grading the assignment:
- The assignment will be graded for individuals on the basis of the specific criteria outlined in the Generic Assessment Criteria (Postgraduate) on the following page (Appendix B)
- The “Presentation” element of the Generic Assessment Criteria (Postgraduate) will also be used (additional to the above assignment guidance notes) to assess the report structure.
Case Study – Executive Holloware
Source: R Johnston, S Chambers, C Harland and N Slack Cases in Operations Management, FT Prentice Hall; 3rd Ed, 2003.
‘We must get to the bottom of this quality problem,’ said Hugh Preston, Managing Director of Executive Holloware Ltd, at one of his regular monthly meetings with senior managers in June 2002.
‘I’ve just seen some figures from Jean Lipson’s accountants and it appears that it may be costing us more than £12 000 each month – and that’s only reworking costs and customer returns, heaven only knows what the total cost might be. I’ve asked Paul Stone from Quality Assurance to look at this problem and report back to me by the end of July. I hope you’ll all give him every assistance in sorting this one out’.
Quality had always been of importance at executives since many of its products were aimed at the top end of the market and commanded high prices. Its most important product line was its hand made, silver-plated Georgian tea sets retailing at anything from
£400 upwards. Other products included hand made, silver-plated candelabra, small items of giftware (silver-plated), and tea sets made from pewter and stainless steel.
The executive had been founded in 1948 in Birmingham and began by manufacturing a wide range of cutlery and tableware items. The company had gradually narrowed its range and by 2002 had become one of the leading UK suppliers of top-quality holloware as well as continuing to produce items for the less expensive end of the holloware market.
Turnover in 2001 exceeded £18 million, although pre-tax profits of only £160000 had been very disappointing compared with the company’s profit performance over the previous 10 years.
The Chairman’s report for the year had sought to explain this poor profit situation: ‘The results are, of course, a disappointment but are largely a result of production inefficiencies during this period of transferring our traditional craft methods to batch production, light engineering-type system. We are confident that the new methods will give us the necessary competitive edge and help us return to, and exceed, our previous levels of profitability.’
Paul Stone, the Quality Assurance Manager, decided to approach his brief in two ways. Firstly, his department would undertake a quality survey on a sampling basis to assess
the scale of the problem and, secondly, he would talk to people in the company who were either directly or indirectly concerned with quality. He decided to concentrate his efforts, in the first instance, on silver-plated teapots since they were by far the most important item made at Executive.
Quality control at Executive
The Quality Assurance Department’s task was to ensure that goods leaving the factory were of the required quality. In addition, the department dealt with customer complaints. Internal quality assurance was performed on a batch sampling basis (10 percent for most items) of goods leaving the final polishing process (see Figure 42.1). In the case of teapots, they were inspected for both dimensional accuracy and surface finish (scratches and bruises). Batches rejected on a sampling basis were subjected to 100 percent inspection and rejects either renovated or scrapped (depending on the nature of the defect). Certain items, for example, candelabra and top-quality tea sets, were subjected to 100 percent inspection as a matter of course.
The Quality Assurance Department was, from time to time, involved in investigating quality problems arising during production or with bought-in components, teapot handles for example.
The majority of these investigations arose as a result of complaints from the Buffing and Polishing Department about the number of scratched or bruised items they were having to deal with.
Paul Stone’s quality survey
Paul first checked through sales records for the last 12 months and found that out of every 100 teapots sold, around five were returned by the retailers with complaints about bruising, scratching, or slightly misshapen pots. Paul then checked through the final inspection records for the last 100 teapots which showed that five had been rejected at that
stage. All five had scratches and one also had a bruise above the spout. Paul decided to take a random sample of 100 teapots at various stages in the production system and assess their `quality’ in terms of dimensional accuracy and surface condition. The results of his survey are shown in Table 42.1.
Having completed the survey, Paul decided to discuss his findings with Andrew Keegan, the new Production Director at Executive. Andrew Keegan’s reaction to the figures was as follows:
‘Well, Paul, on the face of it, it looks as though I should have asked you to do a survey like this when I first arrived – there certainly does seem to be a serious problem, particularly on scratching. I know that nickel silver’s not the easiest material to deal with but I’m surprised at the scale of the problem. What I find difficult to swallow is the fact that most of these scratches and bruises are being removed by reworking so why did they get through the system in the first place? I think we’d both better have a word with Jim Dyer, the Senior Shop Foreman.’
Knowing Jim’s reluctance to speak too frankly when Andrew Keegan was around, Paul decided that he had better have a chat with Jim by himself if he was going to get any useful information on the quality angle. He met Jim later that day in his office. Paul explained the results of his survey and asked for Jim’s opinion. Jim said:
‘I don’t doubt that your people have done a good job Paul, but you know the problems as well as I do. First of all, how do you decide what is a scratch and what is not a scratch?
Even after 20 years, I’m not sure how consistent I am on that one. Then of course there’s
Keegan breathing down my neck all the time about the output – I mean he can’t have it both’ ways, can he? What’s more, the workers in the shop can’t spend all day worrying about every little scratch – what would their pay packets look like at the end of the week if they did? I think it’d be quite a good idea if you had a chat with Alan Jones in the Buffing Shop. He had a go at me only last week about this one!’
Paul decided to take up Jim Dyer’s suggestion and managed to speak to Alan Jones a couple of days later. He told Alan he was particularly interested in his views on the scratching and bruising problems. Alan was only too willing to tell him!
‘You probably know that I had a bit of a barny with Jim Dyer over this last week. It was about one batch of teapots we got from the assembly which was in a dreadful state. Apart from some deep scratches, half of them were bruised and should never have been let out of the shop. Jim seemed to feel I was being too fussy but, quite honestly, if we’ve got to sort out rubbish like that, we’ll never earn a living wage – I don’t think the assembly workers care anymore. When I worked up there we used to do our own buffing and polishing and problems like this never arose, but with the new set-up, the sooner they get them out and on the worksheet, the better seems to be the attitude. They don’t seem to care if we send half of them back – it gives them more work to do.’
Paul decided that before he could put his report together he needed to see John Wells, the Sales Director, and Jean Lipson in Finance. He managed to see John Wells the following week and asked him about the customer complaints situation. John told him: ‘Frankly, you probably know as much about this as I do since it’s your people who investigate the complaints. As you know, most complaints come from the shops – very few from the public, although this may not be a fair picture as the shops may not be passing on customer complaints.
In the case of Georgian tea sets, I’m sure that we’re very often accepting responsibility for scratching that isn’t our fault – but it’s difficult to prove that of course. The trouble is that the tea sets usually need to go back to Buffing and then Replating, which must cost a great deal. One thing I find funny is that we’ve had very few complaints about the new range – probably because they’re fighting each other to get hold of them as they’re selling like hotcakes, apparently. The thing that worries me most at the moment is that the backlog of work in the factory is lengthening my delivery times.’
Paul met with Jean Lipson, the Finance Director, that afternoon and asked for her opinion on the whole quality problem. Jean told him: ‘I raised this with the MD because it’s something that worried me for a long time. The trouble, as I see it, is that we really don’t know what’s going on. For example, it’s almost impossible to sort out reworking from normal work, and even if you manage to do that, it’s only guesswork as to the costs of reworking. I know that Andrew Keegan seems to think that a lot of the overtime in the Buffing Shop must be due to reworking and he’d like to cut it down.’
Following this chat, Paul decided it was about time he sat down and started work on his report if he was to meet the MD’s deadline. The situation certainly didn’t seem so straightforward as he had assumed it might be!
*** This case is based on a real organization and was written by Kevan Scholes and adapted by Robert Johnston. The author gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the Nuffield Foundation who supported the writing of this case study. All rights reserved to the author. Copyright © H.K.Scholes 2002***
Consider yourself as Paul Stone, you have been asked by the Managing Director to prepare a 4000-word report for the Board of Directors to explain how you would introduce a companywide Operations improvement strategy to include Sustainability & Growth for Executive Holloware.
The response must also include the tools and techniques that you have covered in your module workshops.
Your assignment report should consist of:
- An introduction that explains the focus of the assignment.
- The main body which identifies the challenges that Executive Holloware observed in terms of sustainability & growth
- The main body develops and explains how you would introduce a companywide Operations improvement strategy in Executive Holloware.
- The main body that attempts to convince the Board of Directors (shareholders) along with the stakeholders that they have made a genuine commitment to ‘Sustainability’ and ‘Growth’
- A conclusion briefly reiterating the focus of the assignment and summarising the improvements you have identified along with recommendations for Executive Holloware.
Generic Assessment Criteria – Postgraduate
These should be interpreted according to the level at which you are working
|Grade||Relevance||Knowledge||Analysis||Argument and Structure||Critical Evaluation||Presentation||Reference to Literature|
|86 – 100%||The work examined is exemplary and provides clear evidence of a complete grasp of the knowledge, understanding, and skills appropriate to the level of the qualification. There is also unequivocal evidence showing that all the learning outcomes and responsibilities appropriate to that Level are fully satisfied. At this level, it is expected that the work will be exemplary in all the categories cited above. It will demonstrate a particularly compelling evaluation, originality, and elegance of argument, interpretation, or discourse.|
|76-85%||The work examined is excellent and demonstrates comprehensive knowledge, understanding, and skills appropriate to the level of the qualification. There is also excellent evidence showing that all the learning outcomes and responsibilities appropriate to that level are fully satisfied. At this level, it is expected that the work will be excellent in the majority of the categories cited above or by demonstrating particularly compelling evaluation and elegance of argument, interpretation, or discourse and some evidence of originality.|
|70 – 75%||The work examined is of a high standard and there is evidence of comprehensive knowledge, understanding, and skills appropriate to the level of the qualification. There is clearly articulated evidence demonstrating that all the learning outcomes and responsibilities appropriate to that level are satisfied. At this level, it is expected that the standard of the work will be high in the majority of the categories cited above or by demonstrating particularly compelling evaluation and elegance of argument, interpretation, or discourse.|
|60 – 69%||Directly relevant to the requirements of the assessment||A substantial knowledge of relevant material, showing a clear grasp of themes, questions, and issues therein||Comprehensive analysis – clear and orderly presentation||Well supported, the focussed argument which is clear and logically structured.||Contains distinctive or independent thinking, and begins to formulate an independent position in relation to theory and/or practice.||Well written, with standard spelling and grammar, in a readable style with acceptable format||Critical appraisal of up-to-date and/or appropriate literature. Recognition of different perspectives. Very good use of a wide range of sophisticated source material.|
|50 – 59%||Some attempt to address the requirements of the assessment: may drift away from this in less focused passages||Adequate knowledge of a fair range of relevant material, with intermittent evidence of an appreciation of its significance||Significant analytical treatment which has a clear purpose||Generally coherent and logically structured, using an appropriate mode of argument and/or theoretical model(s)||May contain some distinctive or independent thinking; may begin to formulate an independent position in relation to theory and/or practice.||Competently written, with only minor lapses from standard grammar, with acceptable format||Uses a good variety of literature which includes recent texts and/or appropriate literature, including a substantive amount beyond library texts. Competent use of source material.|
|40 – 49%||Some correlation with the requirements of the assessment but there are instances of irrelevance||Basic understanding of the subject but addressing a limited range of material||Some analytical treatment, but may be prone to description, or to the narrative, which lacks clear analytical purpose||Some attempt to construct a coherent argument, but may suffer the loss of focus and consistency, with issues at stake stated only vaguely, or theoretical model(s) couched in simplistic terms||Sound work which expresses a coherent position only in broad terms and in uncritical conformity to one or more standard views of the topic||A simple basic style but with significant deficiencies in expression or format that may pose obstacles for the reader||Evidence of use of appropriate literature which goes beyond that referred to by the tutor. Frequently only uses a single source to support a point.|
|35 – 39%||Relevance to the requirements of the assessment may be very intermittent and may be reduced to its vaguest and least challenging terms||A limited understanding of a narrow range of material||Largely descriptive or narrative, with little evidence of analysis||A basic argument is evident, but mainly supported by assertion and there may be a lack of clarity and coherence||Some evidence of a view starting to be formed but mainly derivative.||Numerous deficiencies in expression and presentation; the writer may achieve clarity (if at all) only by using a simplistic or repetitious style||Barely adequate use of literature. Over reliance on material provided by the tutor.|
|The evidence provided shows that the majority of the learning outcomes and responsibilities appropriate to that Level are satisfied – for compensation consideration.|
|30 – 34%||The work examined provides insufficient evidence of the knowledge, understanding, and skills appropriate to the level of the qualification. The evidence provided shows that some of the learning outcomes and responsibilities appropriate to that Level are satisfied. The work will be weak in some of the indicators.|
|15-29%||The work examined is unacceptable and provides little evidence of the knowledge, understanding, and skills appropriate to the level of the qualification. The evidence shows that few of the learning outcomes and responsibilities appropriate to that Level are satisfied. The work will be weak in several of the indicators.|
|0-14%||The work examined is unacceptable and provides almost no evidence of the knowledge, understanding, and skills appropriate to the level of the qualification. The evidence fails to show that any of the learning outcomes and responsibilities appropriate to that Level are satisfied. The work will be weak in the majority of all of the indicators.|