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Logistics And Operations Management: Next Plc

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Question:

Identify the component activities for an organisation of Next Plc then evaluate the performance objectives used by each and critically examine and suggest ways in which the performance could be improved?
 
 

Answer:

Introduction

Logistics and operations management are the crucial functional areas in any organisation because they determine the effectiveness with which the organisation attains its goals and objectives positively. Logistics management is concerned with the flow of materials to warehouses and finished product to retailers and final consumers. Operations management is concerned with managing the operations through applying advanced technological systems so that cost efficiency is attained which will then be transferred to the final consumers. However, in efficiently performing the management of operations and logistics, there are essential component activities used by different organisations (Loader and Biggs, 2002). In achieving better level of performance against these component activities, there are specific performance objectives that have been considered by these organisations and they are focused with a view to achieve improved level of performance against such objectives (Lewis and Slack, 2003).

This report is aimed at identifying important component activities in respect to Next Plc and this is followed by an assessment of the important objectives that are set by the organisation in this regard. Once the objectives are identified, the next step is to evaluate the current level of performance of Next Plc against this so that recommendations can be provided in achieving improved level of performance against them.

Brief Analysis of Next Plc

An analysis of Next Plc indicates that it is a British Multinational clothing footwear and home products retailer that has its headquarter in Enderby, Leicestershire. Next operates more than 700 stores with majority of them are in the UK. It has been the largest clothing retailer in UK, and the core features of Next is that it includes collection for men, women, and children that are styled and designed by its in-house team. The in-house team is responsible for designing great style, quality and value for money with a contemporary fashion edge. The organisation operates not only in UK, but it has its operations internationally in 40 countries overseas. As a result, the operations management including networking has been carried out efficiently with a view to meet out its customer’s requirements (Next Plc, 2015).

 

Identification of Component Activities in Operations and Networking at NEXT

The component activities mainly indicate the key component parts that must be performed to achieve organisation’s goals. As Next is identified as clothing retailer in UK, the operations management activities of Next involve certain key component activities that fulfils the needs and expectations from such operational departments. As for instance, a major key component activity related to operations management is the product designing and selection. Apart from this, skills and efficiency of its employees is another key component activity of Next Plc that supports the operation management across the organisation. The employees are accountable to supporting the customers of the organisation. Cash handling in Next’s retail format stores, and achieving safety and security are the other major component activities in operations management of the company (Vidler, 2001).

Apart from the component activities in respect to operations management, there are certain major component activities that have been identified in respect to the networking process in the logistics management at Next. As Next is operating at a large level, the role of networking and distribution is important, and there are certain key component activities that are involved within its networking process. The current analysis indicates that Next has more than 500 stores in UK and the delivery and supply of necessary clothing wears to these stores have been the crucial component activity of Next’s current operations. The networking process also includes the component activity of supplier’s inclusion so that the entire networking process can be carried out efficiently in meeting out the needs and expectations of its final end consumers (Next Annual Report, 2013).

These are the major component activities of Next Plc that have been noted in respect to its operations management and networking processes.

 

Key Performance Objectives for Each Identified Component Activity

In order to achieve enhanced operations performance and logistics management at Next Plc, there are important component activities that have been noted. These component activities as identified have specific objectives and they are indicated separately as follows:

Product Designing and Selection: This has been the key component activity of operations management at Next Plc, and the objectives are:

  • To design clothing wear as per current trends as prevalent within UK customers.
  • To anticipate and respond to changing customer preferences and expectations.
  • To maintain sufficient quantities of a particular fashion wear so as to prevent excessive production and ultimately outdated problems (Next Annual Report, 2013).

Applying Employees Skills and Abilities: This is another important component activity of operations management at Next Plc, and its objectives include:

  • To make use of advanced skills and abilities of its employees in designing fashionable wears.
  • To make optimum utilisation of human resources in achieving organisational tasks and activities in a cost efficient way (Sharma, 2006).

Cash Handling and Safety and Security: Next being operating so many stores across UK has specific operations goals to achieve safety and security in its operations, and manage cash handling process efficiently. The objectives are:

  • To achieve the production process with higher safety and no casualties at workplace.
  • To achieve proper management of cash with higher accuracy levels (Kale, 2013).

Suppliers Inclusion in Networking System: This has been the key component at Next in its networking operations, and the performance objectives are:

  • To ensure that there is regular supply of materials as needed by Next throughout the entire period.
  • To make sure that adequate compliances are achieved by suppliers with the company code (Next Annual Report, 2013).

The analysis above has indicated about different component from operations management and networking process at Next Plc and the main performance objectives that have been expected to achieved by the organisation. The next section analyses the actual performance of Next as against these objectives so that appropriate recommendations would be provided in achieving improved level of performance.

 

Analysis of Next Plc’s Performance against Performance Objectives

As there are specific performance objectives that have been identified in respect to Next Plc’s operations and networking management, an analysis of its current performance level as against these objectives is essential. As for example, in relation to the objective of product designing and selection, the performance objectives of Next has been assessed which suggests that the organisations aims at identifying designing customised products and services that can suit their customer needs and requirements. In achieving this objective, there has been executive directors and senior management that have been continuously involved in the process, and they perform regular check ups of the production processes that have been carried out. This not only enables the production of clothing wear as per the latest trends and requirements of customers, but it also results into the positive accomplishment of product quantities as per requirements. The chances of extra surplus production get reduced because of the involvement of senior level managers and directors in such production process at Next Plc. This particular approach has been applied at Next Plc in addressing the issue of product designing and development so that the end customer requirements are efficiently met (Next Annual Report, 2013).

Apart from the performance objective in relation to product design and development, the analysis of the case of Next Plc indicated that the operations management involve the objectives related to human resource utilisation. At Next Plc, the senior management and the technical personnel are continuously involved in making important decisions related to hiring and retaining talented personnel. The technical staffs are responsible for attracting, motivating and retaining highly qualified employees. In addition to this, in achieving the specific objectives in relation to employing the best possible knowledge, skills and abilities of employees, there has been the deployment of large number of strategies performed across Next Plc. These strategies include providing sufficient level of training and development opportunities to employees, promoting equal opportunities, facilitating efficient communication opportunities to employees (Next Annual Report, 2012).

These specific strategies in managing organisational employees at Next have been crucial from the point of view of achieving desired level of performance on their part. The focus of the managers and technical personnel at Next towards utilising the talent of their employees by recruiting and hiring expert professionals, and providing them training and development has been crucial. These initiatives allows for accomplishing desired goals by the company in terms of higher operational efficiency. At Next Plc, its employees are considered as one of their major assets, and they are adequately supported so that their efforts results into the attainment of organisational goals. In these ways, the optimum utilisation of employee abilities is being achieved at Next which has been beneficial to the organisation in meeting out its stakeholders’ expectations efficiently (Neely, 2007).

Apart from the attainment of objectives with respect to operational management, there are specific actions and initiatives that are considered at Next Plc in order to ensure efficiency in its networking abilities. Because of the operations of Next Plc being expanded at a larger level, the networking process especially in the form of logistics management needs to be highly efficient. In this relation, the objective as pursued by Next is to include its suppliers in its working process. The strategy of Next to achieve efficiency in its logistics process implies that the company focuses on making the products available to its customers across all the time. In achieving such efficiency, it makes strategic use of its suppliers whereby company aims at reducing its dependence over a single supplier. There has been a partnership strategy being deployed by the organisation whereby larger number of suppliers is considered as a part of its business strategy. This allows Next Plc in ensuring the supply of products to its customers on regular basis (Next Plc CSR, 2013).

Overall, the analysis above indicates that there are various performance initiatives that are considered by Next Plc in order to meet out its operations management and logistics management goals. There has been the consideration of large number of initiatives to make sure that the performance objectives related to the operations management and logistics management are positively accomplished.

 

Conclusion and Recommendations

A critical analysis of the component activities of Next Plc has been carried out in this report, and the conduct of analysis revealed significant level of findings. It has been evaluated that there are various important component activities at Next Plc that are aimed at achieving smooth operational and logistics management. The component activities in relation to operations management as identified are mainly in terms of product designing and selection, utilising employee skills and abilities to achieve operational efficiency etc whereas in respect to achieving efficient networking, the component activities as noted are mainly the inclusion of suppliers in meeting out customer’s need at Next, achieving positive level of support from all its suppliers through partnering them etc. The analysis leads to identification that is significant level of initiatives that are considered at Next Plc in order to achieve its performance objectives in relation to different component activities.

Recommendations in Improving Performance Objectives: There are certain major recommendations that are considered in achieving further level of effectiveness at Next in achieving its performance objectives related to operations management and networking. These are indicated as follows:

  • In respect to networking, it is essential that Next Plc should focus more on the activities after the acquisition of raw materials from suppliers is achieved. At present, Next Plc establishes partnerships with its suppliers in the form of including them to its network which has been important. But at the same time, it is essential that centralised operations at Next should be efficiently managed to cover the requirements of its more than 500 stores in UK (Jones and Robinson, 2012).

  • In relation to operations management, it has been evaluated that Next Plc has rigorous policy towards achieving efficiency in its operations through its efficient human resources. However, it is recommended that Next Plc should consider for standard approaches as well in designing its products. At present, it aims at customising its products as per customer’s requirements, but this has been a costly process. As a result, by focusing on standardised processes, it could be possible to Next Plc in achieving cost efficiency which would significantly enhance its operations (Koontz, 2010).
 

References

Jones, P. and Robinson, P. (2012), ‘Operations Management’, Oxford University Press.

Koontz, H. (2010), ‘Essentials of Management’, Tata McGraw-Hill Education.

Kale, S. (2013), ‘Production and Operations Management’, McGraw-Hill Education.

Loader, D. and Biggs, G. (2002), ‘Managing Technology in the Operations Function’, Butterworth-Heinemann.

Lewis, M. and Slack, N. (2003), ‘Operations Management’, Psychology Press.

Next Annual Report, (2013) [Online]. Available at: https://www.nextplc.co.uk/~/media/Files/N/Next-PLC/pdfs/latest-news/2013/ar2013.pdf Accessed: 16 March 2015].

Next Plc, (2015) [Online]. Available at: https://www.nextplc.co.uk/about-next/business-overview.aspx [Accessed: 16 March 2015].

Next Plc CSR, (2013) [Online]. Available at: https://www.nextplc.co.uk/~/media/Files/N/Next-PLC/pdfs/corporate-responsibility-report/cr-2013-v2.pdf [Accessed: 16 March 2015].

Next Plc Annual Report, 2012 [Online]. Available at: https://www.nextplc.co.uk/~/media/Files/N/Next-PLC/pdfs/latest-news/2012/ar2012.pdf Accessed: 16 March 2015].

Neely, A. (2007), ‘Business Performance Measurement: Unifying Theory and Integrating Practice’, Cambridge University Press.

Sharma, S.C. (2006), ‘Introductory Operation Research’, Discovery Publishing House.

Vidler, C. (2001), ‘Operations Management’, Heinemann.

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