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Module 1: Production Process

Discuss about the Managing Operations Within Supply Chains.

The game Practice Operations provides users with opportunities of developing and improving effective operations management skills.  The game takes users through specific operations in a cloth manufacturing firm with a goal of promoting effective decision making in supply chain operations management.  Gaming activities in each of the six modules of the product are highly interactive. The goal of this essay is to present a critical analysis of Practice Operations. The modules of the game are assessed in relation to their elements, benefits and setbacks. Improvements that would make the game better are also suggested in this essay.

Module 1 is on the production process. The module has two main elements: make-to-order processes and operations management. The purpose of the module is to enable users to gain basic skills and knowledge on production processes. The make-to-order processes element allows users to access the make-to-order system, which is used to ensure that production orders are aligned with the orders of customers. The specific elements of the make-to-order processes are item ordered, the ordering client, order quantity, due date and unit price. The operations management element has two sub-elements: utilization and priority. It provides users with an opportunity of learning how to maximize the utilization of production equipment. It also enables development of skills related to prioritizing production runs or jobs.

The make-to-order processes are clear and systematic. Therefore, they allow the operations decision makers to ascertain with clarity that production orders are congruent with the items ordered by clients in the context of quantity and price. However, the make-to-order processes should be improved to provide for the identification and implementation best practices and quality standards in production processes, as recommended by Turkay, Saracoglu & Arslan (2016). The operations management element is useful in ensuring that production runs are prioritized in accordance to the due dates agreed with clients. Nonetheless, the operations management element should be made better through the integration of the sub-element of production reporting. Xiang (2014) explains that production reporting is useful in tracing any quality problems that may emanate from the production floor.

Module 2 is on managing suppliers. The module is designed to provide users with useful insights on specific supply chain management activities. Its major elements are the lean strategy, quality inspection, quantity and supplier capacity considerations and creation of vendor scorecard. The lean strategy element provides lessons on how to manage suppliers to ensure that materials are produced exactly as ordered. The quality inspection element is valuable because it provides for inspection of raw materials against quality benchmarks or standards. The quantity and supplier capacity considerations enables for the evaluation of the reliability of vendors to supply raw materials which will meet market demand for manufactured products. Notably, reliability, quantity and price are the main considerations included in the supplier scorecard.

Module 2: Managing Suppliers

Module 2 game play is aligned with the lean philosophy. Therefore, the elements of the module provide practical guidelines on elimination of waste. Tseng, Burns, Simpson & Berkowitz, D (2017) demonstrate that lean strategies provide for minimization of waste through just-in-time management of inventory. The module effectively addresses a wide range of factors and considerations in the management of suppliers and materials, including market demand, quantity, quality, cost, reliability and timeliness. Therefore, module 2 game play promotes critical thinking and informed decision making in the management of supply chain operations. However, the module overlooks the needs of production staff. Sylla (2014) illustrate that lean environments often causes worker frustration and dissatisfaction. Therefore, module 2 should be improved to include worker considerations so that the quantity of materials is aligned with both market demand and the ability of the production staff to processes them within stipulated timeframes.

Module 3 provides a game play on forecasting and contracts. The purpose of this module is to enable users to develop and apply effective decision making skills in choosing vendors. The elements of the module include research, stock and order decisions, bids, analysis of work requests, batch manufacturing and forecasting and specialization. The research element provides users with a compelling platform for gaining adequate market intelligence to support the formulation of production strategies. The module also allows users to make decisions on ordering and stocking materials in line with business needs. However, the module allows operations decision makers to make only 2 bids at a time. Therefore, it limits the number of alternatives decision makers consider before making preferred choices of suppliers of raw materials.

Module 3 provides for comprehensive analysis of requests from vendors on the basis of credibility, materials, profitability, processes, quality and capacity. The module should be advanced to include the element of quantity in request analysis. Shen (2015) reveals that the reliability of vendors is defined by their ability to provide materials in line with the required quantity and quality. Notably, the module is designed to enable operations managers to make logical or objective decisions pertaining to production processes as recommended by Pan, Liao & Xi (2012). For example, the batch manufacturing element provides for the analysis of shortcomings in production processes, which is necessary for effective quality management practice (Chung-Lun & Vairaktarakis, 2007). Nonetheless, the forecasting and specialization element should be improved to include strategies of identifying processes commonalities that warrant specialization of production activities (Shakourloo, Kazemi & Javad, 2016).

Module 3: Forecasting and Contracts

Module 4 is on employees and capacity building. The purpose of the module is to help users to develop skills of managing employees with a goal of increasing production capacity. The main elements of the module include training, hiring, work scheduling and capacity building. The training element provides useful guidelines on how to empower employees through training on new skills to make them more productive in production processes. The hiring element demonstrates how to make effective decisions on the appropriateness of potential recruits for specific production tasks. Gilbert, DeWinne & Sels (2015) illustrate that hiring decisions should be aligned with the human resource needs of an organization or its departments. Notably, module 4 can be improved with a view of including strategies for collaboration between the manufacturing and human resources management departments for effective implementation of the processes of hiring and training production staff.

The work scheduling element is effectively designed to promote the skills of gathering information on production tasks and appropriately assigning employees specific responsibilities in accordance to their competencies. The capacity building element is wide in scope it demonstrates several strategies of maximizing throughput in production processes, including routing pathways and managing bottlenecks. Nonetheless the capacity building elements can be improved with a goal of providing additional gaming exercises on how to mitigate the challenges of dealing with constraints and bottlenecks. In addition, the process of communicating the capacity plan should be included in the module to promote collaboration and teamwork.

Module 5 is about opening a new branch. It enables users to enhance their skills in human resource management and improving operational efficiency in a new production branch. The module has 3 elements: choosing between training and hiring, analyzing human resource costs and improving the reputation of an organization. The module effectively illustrates how to overcome human resource management dilemmas related to hiring and training. The statistical data on the costs of training versus hiring presented in the module promotes the making of accurate human resource management decisions in the recruitment process.

Module 5 can be improved by integrating ethical dimensions of human resource management. Op, Wynen & Hondeghem (2017) demonstrate that human resource management practices should be aligned with ethical and legal frameworks pertaining to the rights of workers, such as protection from discrimination and equal access to professional development resources or opportunities. Regardless of the aforementioned setback, factors that impact on the reputation of a firm, such as customer service, timeliness and quality are effective addressed in the module. Therefore, module 5 is useful in developing the skills of exceeding customer expectations in production and service delivery processes.

Module 4: Employees and Capacity Building

Module 6 is on maximizing profits. The purpose of the module is to provide users with the skills of managing inventory costs with a goal of increasing profits. The module has only two elements: long-term perspective and total cost ownership. Adequate time is allocated for gaming activities in module 6. Therefore, the module provides users with more opportunities of mastering cost management skills. Anderson & Dekker (2009) explain that cost management is a crucial aspect of production because it determines the profitability of a firm.

The long-term perspective element is useful in developing effective decision making skills pertaining to the costs of operations. The total cost ownership element provides users with a comprehensive approach of managing costs, including storage costs, opportunity costs, taxes and loss or damage. However, the module does not provide users with a chance of implementing innovative solutions in cost-containment, such as the use of new technologies, as illustrated by (Lavin, 2014). Therefore, the long-term perspective should enable users to invest in new technologies meant to improve production efficiency in the long term. In addition, module 6 should enable users to determine the specific operational changes they should implement to ensure that manufacturing processes are aligned with the lean strategy.

Reference List

Anderson, S, & Dekker, H 2009, 'Strategic Cost Management in Supply Chains, Part 1: Structural Cost Management', Accounting Horizons, 23, 2, pp. 201-220

Chung-Lun, L, & Vairaktarakis, G 2007, 'Coordinating production and distribution of jobs with bundling operations', IIE Transactions, 39, 2, pp. 203-215.

Gilbert, C, DeWinne, S, & Sels, L 2015, 'Strong HRM processes and line managers' effective HRM implementation: a balanced view', Human Resource Management Journal, 25, 4, pp. 600-616

Lavin, P 2014, 'The missing link: successful inbound supply chain management', Operations Management (1755-1501), 40, 1, pp. 20-23

Op de Beeck, S, Wynen, J, & Hondeghem, A 2017, 'Effective HRM Implementation by Line Managers: Relying on Various Sources of Support', International Journal Of Public Administration, 40, 2, pp. 192-204

Pan, E, Liao, W, & Xi, L 2012, 'A joint model of production scheduling and predictive maintenance for minimizing job tardiness', International Journal Of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, 60, 9-12, pp. 1049-1061.

Shakourloo, A, Kazemi, A, & Javad, M 2016, 'A new model for more effective supplier selection and remanufacturing process in a closed-loop supply chain', Applied Mathematical Modelling, 40, 23/24, pp. 9914-9931

Shen, B 2015, 'Service Operations Optimization: Recent Development in Supply Chain Management', Mathematical Problems In Engineering, 2015, pp. 1-7.

Sylla, C 2014, 'Managing Perceived Operational Risk Factors for Effective Supply-Chain Management', AIP Conference Proceedings, 1635, 1, pp. 19-26.

Tseng, F, Burns, L, Simpson, J, & Berkowitz, D 2017, 'Increasing Army Supply Chain Performance Using An Integrated End-To-End Metrics System', Defense Acquisition Research Journal: A Publication Of The Defense Acquisition University, 24, 1, pp. 66-100.

Turkay, M, Saracoglu, O, & Arslan, M 2016, 'Sustainability in Supply Chain Management: Aggregate Planning from Sustainability Perspective', Plos ONE, 11, 1, pp. 1-18.

Xiang, L 2014, 'Operations Management of Logistics and Supply Chain: Issues and Directions', Discrete Dynamics in Nature & Society, pp. 1-7.

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