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Improving Business Processes: Guidelines and Harvard Referencing Style




1. Explain what a business process is and how the business perspective differs from a traditional functional perspective.
2. Create process maps for a business process and use these to understand and diagnose a process.
3. Calculate and interpret some common measures of process performance.
4. Discuss the importance of benchmarking and distinguish between competitive benchmarking and process benchmarking.
5. Describe the Six Sigma methodology, including the steps of the DMAIC process.
6. Use and interpret some common continuous improvement tools.


Improving Business Processes: Guidelines


? Attack each delay
• What causes it?
• How long is it?
• How could we reduce its impact?

? Examine each decision point
• Is this a real decision or just a checking activity?
• If the latter, can we automate or eliminate it?

? Dematerialize documentation
• Can we do it electronically?
• Eliminate multiple copies?
• Share a common database? 


? Look for loops
• Why is this loop here?
• Would we need to loop if we didn’t have any failures in quality, planning, etc?

? Process steps
• What is the value of this activity, relative to its cost?
• Is this a necessary activity?


What is the Labor Productivity in hours for Each Car?

Car X: (4,000 cars / 20,000 hrs) = ?
Car Y: (6,000 cars / 30,000 hrs) = ?

How might these measures be affected by capital substitution?


? Describe what JIT/Lean is and differentiate between the Lean philosophy and kanban systems.
? Discuss the Lean perspective on waste and describe the eight major forms of waste, or muda, in an organization.
? Discuss the Lean perspective on inventory and describe how a kanban system helps control inventory levels and synchronize the flow of goods and materials across a supply chain. 

? Describe how the concepts of the Lean supply chain and Lean Six Sigma represent natural extensions of the Lean philosophy.
? Explain how a two-card kanban system works.
? Calculate the number of kanban cards needed in a simple production environment. 


Can the process provide acceptable quality consistently?


Harvard Referencing Style


What is it?


Academic writing requires authors to support their arguments with reference to other published work or experimental results/findings. A reference system will perform three essential tasks:
? Enable you to acknowledge other authors’ ideas (avoid plagiarism).
? Enable a reader to quickly locate the source of the material you refer to so they can consult it if they wish.
? Indicate to the reader the scope and depth of your research.
The Harvard style is a widely used referencing system to help you achieve these objectives.

Improving Business Processes: Guidelines


How do I use the Harvard Referencing Style?


The Harvard style involves two tasks:
? How you refer to other authors in the body of your text (in-text citation).
? How you compile a list of reference sources at the end of your text (reference list). 


What does it look like?
Here is an extract showing what in-text citations look like in the Harvard Style (Where you are not quoting another’s specific ideas or exact words. See the next page for these.) It has been claimed that due to funding being almost exclusively available from the Irish Film Board (IFB), Irish film makers are restricted to the type of Ireland they can depict in their work (MacDougall, 2009). Jervir (2011) argues that subjects such as Northern Ireland are disproportionately represented as these are key areas of interest to the IFB.



Quoting ideas
If you are including the ideas of another person from a specific page range or page in a source, rather than direct quotation, Harvard also requires you to include a page number. Your quote would look something like this In the review it was noted that research shows open plan office spaces damage workers' attention span, creativity and satisfaction (Davis et al., 2011, p. 22).


If you are unclear as to when to include a page number when quoting ideas, discuss this with your lecturer or tutor. Bring along examples to show them.


The Harvard Style dictates that when using another's exact words, known as direct quotation, then those words must be placed in inverted commas/quotation marks ('' or "") followed by an in-text citation that includes the Author Last name, Year and page numbers. Inverted commas/quotation marks can be single or double, simply be consistent or check with your lecturer/school. See our two examples below. 


Short quotations
Short quotations are generally held to be two or three lines in length. An example of a short direct quotation would be It was reported that 'findings show children have a high level of enjoyment, while exercising with the system as indicated by the positive responses to all three questions' (Fitzgerald et al., 2008, p. 66). 


Long quotations

Long quotations are generally held to be longer than three lines. These are laid out in a separate paragraph of text and indented. No inverted commas/quotation marks are included. An example of a long quotation would be In their research on rehabilitation using Wobbleballs, Fitzgerald and her team conclude that:

Labor Productivity


The fourth question collected some feedback from children and while most provided positive comments a small number of children (n=13) mentioned that the wobble board was “difficult to control” or “hard to use”. We must therefore investigate some easier methods to control the game as an option for some children. Future research is  6 needed to investigate the benefits of the system as an exercise intervention for children and to examine how training using Wobbleball could be integrated into the existing physical education curriculum in schools. (Fitzgerald et al., 2008, p. 66)


In this guide we show how common reference types should look in your reference list (Reference) along with an example. Immediately following this will be two samples of how that reference should appear as an In-Text-Citation.

If the exact reference type you are looking for is not shown in this guide, look for one similar and follow the same rules. Alternatively consult the book “Cite them Right,” by Richard Pears and Graham Shields which is available in UCD Library.


1. The tasks shown in the following precedence diagram are to be assigned to workstations with the intent of minimizing idle time. Management has designed an output rate of 275 units per day. Assume 440 minutes are available per day.
a. Determine the appropriate takt time/cycle time.
b. What is the minimum number of stations possible?
c. Assign tasks using the “positional weight” rule. Break ties using greatest number of following tasks.
d. Compute efficiency.



2. An assembly line with 17 tasks is to be balanced. The longest task is 2.4 minutes, and the total time for all tasks is 18 minutes. The line will operate for 450 minutes per day.
a. What are the minimum and maximum cycle times?
b. What range of output is theoretically possible for the line?
c. What is the minimum number of workstations needed if the maximum output rate is to be sought?
d. What cycle time will provide an output rate of 125 units per day?
e. What output potential will result if the cycle time is (1) 9 minutes? (2) 15 minutes?

3. A manager wants to assign tasks to workstations as efficiently as possible, and achieves an hourly output of 33 1/3 units. Assume the shop works a 60-minute hour. Assign the tasks shown in the accompanying diagram (times are in minutes) to workstations using the following rules.
a. In order of most following tasks. Tiebreaker: greatest positional weight.
b. In order of greatest positional weight.
c. What is the efficiency?



4. The weekly output of a production process is shown below, together with data for labor and
material inputs. The standard inventory value of the output is $125 per unit. Overhead is
charged weekly at the rate of $1500 plus 0.5 times direct labor cost. Assume a 40-hour week
and an hourly wage of $16. Material cost is $10 per running foot. What is the average multifactor productivity for this process?



No. of Workers

Material (ft)


















5. A company has introduced a process improvement that reduces processing time for each unit, so that output is increased by 25% with less material, but one additional worker Under the old process, five workers could produce 60 units per hour. Labour costs are $12/hour, and material input was previously $16/unit. For the new process, material is now $10/unit. Overhead is charged at 1.6 times direct labour cost. Finished units sell for $31 each. What increase in productivity is associated with the process improvement?


6. Smarmy Sales (SSI), sells herbal medicines through its website and through phone reps. Over the past 6 years, SSI has started to depend more and more on its website to generate sales. The figure below shows total sales, phone rep costs, and website costs for the past 6 years:



Total Sales ($)

Phone Rep Costs ($)

Website Costs ($)


























a. Calculate the productivity for the phone reps for each of the past 6 Interpret the results.

b. Calculate the productivity for the website for each of the past 6 Interpret the results.

c. Compare your results in parts a and What are the limitations of these single-factor productivity measures?


7. Average waiting times and ride times for two of DizzyWorld’s rides are as follows:


Average Waiting Time (mins)

Length of Ride (mins)

Magical Mushroom



Haunted Roller Coaster




a. Calculate the percent value-added time for each

b. Now suppose DizzyWorld puts in place a reservation system for the Haunted Roller Coaster Here’s how it works: The customer receives a coupon that allows him to come back in 40 minutes and immediately go to the front of the line. In the meantime, the customer can wait in line and then ride the Magical Mushroom. Under this new system, what is the customer’s total time waiting? Total time riding? What is the new percent-value added time?


8. Tyler Apiaries sells bees and beekeeping Bees are shipped in special packages according to weight. The target weight of a package is 1.4kg. Historically, Tyler’s shipments have weighed on average 1.4kg, with a standard deviation of 0.14kg.

Harvard Referencing Style


a. Calculate the process capability ratio, assuming that the lower and upper tolerance limits are 0kg and 1.8kg respectively. Is Tyler Apiaries currently able to meet the tolerance limits 99.7% of the time?

b. What would the standard deviation have to be for Tyler Apiaries to achieve six sigma quality levels with regard to the weight of the bee packages?


9. Suppose Tyler changes its processes so that the average package weight is now 3kg, with new standard deviation of 0.7kg. Tyler still markets the packages of bees as weighing 1.4kg and the tolerance limit remains as before. Calculate the process capability index for the weight of the bee packages. Is Tyler able to meet the tolerance limits?


10. AnderSet Laboratories produces rough lenses that will ultimately be ground into precision lenses for use in laboratory The company has developed the following thickness measures, based on 15 samples of four lenses that were taken when the process was under control:

MEAN (MICRONS) (n = 4)


















































a. Use these data to calculate X-double-bar and R-bar and set up the appropriate control

b. Can the process be ‘under control’ in statistical terms but still fail to meet the needs of AnderSet customers? Explain.


11. An insurance company has an online help service for its Customer queries that take more than 5 minutes to resolve are categorized as ‘unsatisfactory’ experiences. To evaluate the quality of its services, the company take 10 samples of 100 calls each while the process is under control. The resulting p values are as follows:

p Values (n = 100)












a. Calculatethe p-bar and Sp values and set up control limits so that future sample p values should fall within the control limits of 7% of the time.

b. Suppose the insurance company takes four additional samples, yielding the following p values: 9, 0.12, 0.25 and 0.10. Plot the results and circle all values which suggest that the process is ‘out of control’. Is it possible that a sample result could fall outside the control limits due to pure chance? Explain.

c. Now suppose that the sample size is actually 50, not 100. Recalculate the control limits for the p chart. What happened? Explain


12. Arktec Manufacturing must choose between the following two capacity options:


Fixed Cost (per year)

Variable Cost (per unit)

Option 1



Option 2




a. What would the cost be for each option if the demand level is 25,000 units per year? If it is 75,000 units per year?

b. What is the indifferent point?


Suppose the company has identified the following three possible demand scenarios:


Demand (units per year)









c. What is the expected value of each option? Which option would you choose based on this information?


13. A small firm intends to increase the capacity of a bottleneck operation by adding a new Two alternatives, A and B, have been identified, and the associated costs and revenues have been estimated. Annual fixed costs would be $40,000 for A and $30,000 for B; variable costs per unit would be $10 for A and $11 for B; and revenue per unit would be $15.


a. Determine each alternative’s break-even point in

b. At what volume of output would the two alternatives yield the same profit?

c. If expected annual demand is 12,000 units, which alternative would yield the higher profit?


14. A producer of felt-tip pens has received a forecast of demand of 30,000 pens for the coming month from its marketing Fixed costs of $25,000 per month are allocated to the felt-tip operation, and variable costs are 37 cents per pen.


a. Find the break-even quantity if pens sell for $1

b. At what price must pens be sold to obtain a monthly profit of $15,000, assuming that estimated demand materializes?


15. A company manufactures a product using two machine Each cell has a design capacity of 250 units per day and an effective capacity of 230 units per day. At present, actual output averages 200 units per cell, but the manager estimates that productivity improvements soon will increase output to 225 units per day. Annual demand is currently 50,000 units. It is forecasted that within two years, annual demand will triple. How many cells should the company plan to produce to satisfy predicted demand under these conditions? Assume 240 workdays per year.

16. A large bakery buys flour in 25-pound The bakery uses an average of 4,860 bags a year. Preparing an order and receiving a shipment of flour involves a cost of $10 per order. Annual carrying costs are $75 per bag.

a. Determine the economic order

b. What is the average number of bags on hand?

c. How many orders per year will there be?

d. Compute the total cost of ordering and carrying

e. If ordering costs were to increase by $1 per order, how much would that affect the minimum total annual cost?


17. A large law firm uses an average of 40 boxes of copier paper a The firm operates 260 days a year. Storage and handling costs for the paper are $30 a year per box, and it costs approximately $60 to order and receive a shipment of paper.


a. What order size would minimize the sum of annual ordering and carrying costs?

b. Compute the total annual cost using your order size from part

c. Except for rounding, are annual ordering and carrying costs always equal at the EOQ?

d. The office manager is currently using an order size of 200 The partners of the firm expect the office to be managed “in a cost-efficient manner.” Would you recommend that the office manager use the optimal order size instead of 200 boxes? Justify your answer.

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