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HRMN2820-Human Resource Management

tag 0 Download 10 Pages / 2,355 Words tag 12-11-2020

Question:

Case study: Bombardier Transportation

Adapted from a case study in People Management by Robert Jeffery  

18 Jun 2015

You can glimpse the corner of ?a carriage from between the bars of the entrance gates, but it’s only when you turn the corner inside the vast Bombardier Transportation complex that the incongruity really hits you – here, in the middle of Derby, is a yard full of gleaming new tube trains destined for the cavernous underground tunnels of London.

For Dawn Roberts, HR business partner at the UK’s largest rail manufacturing location, the sight has long since ceased to be remarkable, as have the trainspotters who regularly gather on the bridge overlooking the plant, desperate for a first glimpse of new trains as they roll off the production line.

That’s because for both Roberts and Stephen Bruce – the Canadian-owned business’s head of quality, UK – what matters isn’t just what’s done but how well it’s done. They have initiated a site-wide focus on quality that is already reaping rewards among the 1,600-plus employees, and Bombardier’s global customer base.

It was succession planning, and a determined HR department, that initiated the shift in mindset, says Bruce: “We got a gentle challenge about how well we were developing the team, and we weren’t too sure what the answer was. If I’m honest, we didn’t really understand the question. But HR wouldn’t go away. They kept asking, and it was the succession comments that really resonated with me. I thought, actually, who is going to be doing my job and other senior people’s jobs in the future? I couldn’t see where the next generation was going to come from.”

At the same time, quality issues were becoming problematic. “We inherited a project where the end-of-line inspections by the customer were identifying an average of 900 defects,” says Bruce. “While we were able to reduce that number train by train, it was still accepted as the norm. That wasn’t good enough, and we began to ask what we could do to reduce it.”

Quality, the pair decided, was the solution, and that became the springboard in 2011 for a professionalisation of the concept, with a determined emphasis on switching from quality control – the avoidance of unnecessary errors – to what Bruce describes as quality assurance, where an aspiration to higher standards becomes the norm. He points to the British automotive industry as a salutary lesson in the dangers of not being the best: “Manufacturers didn’t really get on top of quality, and we all know what happened to the industry when the threat came from overseas. It has recovered, but it has had to change massively along the way.”

Similar shifts were buffeting Bombardier. In 2011, it became embroiled in a political storm when it lost the contract for new Thameslink carriers to Germany’s Siemens, one of a number of overseas rivals encroaching on its territory. More than 1,000 staff were laid off during these “dark days”, and though a large order for Southern trains later that year undid the worst of the damage, things had to change.

An emboldened quality department was part of the answer. Its 30 employees were placed on a new pathway which married the firm’s behavioural competency framework – which Roberts says covers “having customer orientation, business acumen and communication skills… the things that are needed to influence the business to change its approach to quality” – with a technical framework developed in conjunction with the Chartered Quality Institute (CQI).

The outside rigour, and the ability to offer quality employees a recognised and professionally benchmarked qualification, has been a vital part of changing the way the entire business prioritises quality. This has required a close relationship with HR, which brings wider oversight of the ‘Bombardier Way’ to technical processes. As Bruce puts it: “Quality is about more than just control. It’s about wider business improvement.”

“That’s a change from where some business leaders were before,” adds Roberts. “They’ve gone from just saying ‘that’s not right’ to looking at root cause analysis of a problem and preventing it from recurring.” 

The quality department, aided by HR, has been able to carry this message to the rest of the business, forming cross-functional groups to examine processes and building bespoke frameworks for engineering, procurement and project management. And it’s beginning to bring tangible results: though Bruce says it can be hard to demonstrate the value in processes and procedures, the trains that were recording 900 faults now average 22, and the business recently celebrated a zero-defect project.

“Engagement survey results have been phenomenally good compared to where we were before,” says Bruce. “Across career, reward and learning areas we’ve seen great improvements. That comes as part of a package that includes an improved atmosphere in the office, and the willingness of people to come to us and ask for training. If I look back, we used to almost have to coax them into learning, but not any more.”

The positive indicators have extended to recruitment, where the framework has been used in hiring decisions and benchmarking applicants, as well as helping Bombardier’s shared service centre better understand the business’s requirements in key roles. Succession plans are “more than just names in boxes” and are aligned with wider development. Eventually, says Roberts, the framework will be linked to reward and grading structures, creating additional incentives to drive improvement. 

In the meantime, another unusual sight within the facility points to the brighter future: the scaffolding is going up on a vast new hanger-like building as Bombardier gears up for production of flagship Crossrail trains. The order book is full for 10 years, and recruitment of both graduates and apprentices is skyrocketing. The only thing you won’t find on the agenda is failure, says Bruce: “That’s something we just don’t have to accept any more.”

This article is taken from People Management.  Bombardier do run graduate schemes.  Considering the information above, and also looking at their website, write a report proposing the details for a graduate assessment centre to select 8 graduates to be part of a graduate  trainee programme for the engineering team at the Derby depot.  They have outlined the structure of a graduate scheme.  Your report is to furnish the finer details for the assessment centre. You will need to outline a set of competencies to use and give some detail to the ways in which you will assess those competencies, to come up with a team of 8 graduate trainees to add to the Derby depot.

Start your research at www.uk.bombardier.com, look at the jobs they have, and the graduate schemes they are running, and consider the competencies  that need to be included.   You may want to research other companies to find out what competencies that are used (be careful of plagiarism). Put forward a well researched account in your report, and a justified set of recommendations for a selection centre.

This article is taken from People Management. Bombardier do run graduate schemes. Considering the information above, and also looking at their website, write a report proposing the details for a graduate assessment centre to select 8 graduates to be part of a graduate trainee programme for the engineering team at the Derby depot. They have outlined the structure of a graduate scheme. Your report is to furnish the finer details for the assessment centre. You will need to outline a set of competencies to use and give some detail to the ways in which you will assess those competencies, to come up with a team of 8 graduate trainees to add to the Derby depot.
Start your research at www.uk.bombardier.com, look at the jobs they have, and the graduate schemes they are running, and consider the competencies that need to be included. You may want to research other companies to find out what competencies that are used (be careful of plagiarism). Put forward a well researched account in your report, and a justified set of recommendations for a selection centre

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