This assignment is based on the following short case studies: Acme Whistles, a company the dates back to 1870 that was started to respond to a request by the London Metropolitan Police to replace their wooden rattles that was used to sound the alarm. So the world’s first police whistle was born.

Oxfam International, a relief and emergency response, community development organization made up of 13 likeminded organizations based around the world. Together with their partners and allies, work directly with communities seeking to ensure that poor people can improve their lives and livelihoods and have a say in decisions that affect them.

Formule 1 and Mwagusi Safari Lodge, although in the same industry we have 2 hotels that operate on different principles.

Dabbawalas (one who carries box) they are a collective team of 5000 men in Mumbai that deliver cooked meals from either your home or a caterer to your workplace at lunchtime. The Dabbas (lunch tin) are then collected and returned so that they can be sent again the next day.

1. What is the overlap between operations, marketing and product / service development at Acme Whistles? The overlap is the employees of Acme Whistles. Acme Whistles is a small company that cannot afford to employ specialist resources for specialized functions. For this reason each employee has much broader job specifications and they manage to maintain a quality ethos amongst all employees. Because of this, all employees want to contribute and figure new ideas for different types of whistles. Acme’s marketing, product & service departments are informal teams put together with employees from other processes of the organization who have innovative ideas.

2. What are the main issues facing Oxfam’s operations management?

Based on the fact that Oxfam have an expenditure bill in excess of US$ 700 million annually, the key issue facing the operations management would be controlling COSTS. Even though a non-profit organization, the operational decisions are the same as commercial, profit run organizations.

In no order of priority the following are other issues the operations management face at Oxfam: Supply chain management is critical, Oxfam comprises of 13 other organizations spread across the globe. Their key source of income comes from their network of charity shops run by volunteers. Supply chain management is critical in the running of these shops. Corporate And Social Responsibility – Oxfam have to comply with international humanitarian standards. They also have to engage with local authorities in emergency situations.

They are also involved with providing clean water and sanitation facilities. Environmental regulations have to be followed. Logistics Management – Oxfam have a central emergencies warehouse at their head office in the UK. In an emergency all emergency supplies, shelters, blankets clothing etc. are flown out in short notice. It’s the operations Managers responsibility to ensure that the warehouse is stocked with necessary items; transporters are ready to dispatch items at short notice. The entire logistics operation is critical to ensure effective and timeous relief and supply distribution.

Assessment, Evaluation and Improvement – had to adopt a systematic approach to evaluating their successes and failures. They conducted real time evaluations to assess and influence emergency response. These exercises provided vital information about the effectiveness of their response and allowed them to make crucial adjustments to their process. Development, Education & Awareness – majority of the people involved in Oxfam’s relief and aid programmed are volunteers. A key component of supplying aid and relief to communities is knowing the background of the people you assisting. Another key area of Oxfam’s operations is ‘Clean Water’, those involved in this programme, need to be well educated regarding water, sanitization and the environmental impacts.

What are the role of technology and the role of operations staff in delivering an appropriate level of service for each hotel? Formule 1: Fomule 1 is one the few hotels that operate on two principles not always associated with the hotel industry, “Standardization and Technology”. Technology and standardization play a pivotal role in Formule 1’s operations. Technology is critical in areas where Formule 1 has reduced or eliminated staff. Hotels have a high visibility dimension, high customer contact and are very staff intensive.

To reduce this scenario, and high received variety, Formule 1 has opted to utilize technology, innovation and standardization in its operations. For example, between 10am and 5pm there is no receptionist manning the front desk, they have been replaced by automatic credit card machines to purchase a room. Areas of low visibility and less customer contact are staff intensive while areas that require high customer contact skills are standardized and run with innovative technology.

Mwagusi Safari Lodge:

On the other hand, Mwagusi operates on a high visibility, high customer contact environment. They incorporate the least amount of technology into their operations but have increased their customer contact by assigning two staff to each customer. Mwagusi focuses on the individual needs of each and every customer. Due to the demand variation between seasons, Mwagusi has to be flexible and less standardized in their operations.

What are the main differences in the operations management challenges facing the two hotels? The main difference in these operations management is staff intensity, standardization, technology, visibility dimension and variation demand. Where one operation uses more staff and less technology and standards, the other relies heavily on innovation, successful technology and standardization. Formule 1 relies on staff with less customer contact skills due to the standardization in processes and less visibility. Information systems, processes, planning and the management of is crucial to Formule 1’s operation. Mwagusi, relies on staff with high customer contact skills. Training and development is crucial.

Why does the Dabbawalas service offer such amazing dependability? The whole process is customer driven. The emphasis is delivering a hot, home cooked meal on time. Most Dabbawalas are known personally to their customers. They are well accustomed to the area that they collect and deliver to. This reduces the error rate. Proper time management is key to their success. They do everything in their power to keep a customer happy. Another key factor is team work, human ingenuity, dedication and commitment.

Dabbawalas are not employees of an organization, they are shareholders of the business and profits are shared equally amongst a team of Dabbawalas. Their motto is: Customer is not Raja – but Maharaja: Prince Charles wanted to meet the Dabbawalas in 2003, he was told to come to Church Gate Station to meet them so that deliveries weren’t affected. He only spent around twenty minutes with them. Richard Branson was told to do the deliveries with them so that deliveries weren’t affected.

Other key factors for their success 1. Keep Operational costs as low as possible 2. Keep Capital Investment to a bare minimum 3. Just serve your customer, nothing else 4. Never deviate from your core competency 5. Do not be over dependent on technology 6. Commitment matters, qualification doesn’t 7. Know the implication of failure 8. Build your services around existing infrastructure 9. Abandon bad customers 10. Penalize for non-compliance

Do you think they should be using more information technology to help them get even better? No I don’t. The Dabbawalas have been in business since 1890. Most Dabbawalas have no formal education or technical efficiency, yet they have proven that there operation is succesfull based on basic principles and existing infrastructure with no IT or technological influence. They have a Six Sigma certification by the Forbes group. They were found to have an error rate of 1in 16 million. They have a dependability rate of 99.999%. I dint think using information technology will make them any better, it will merely assist them in maintaining their impeccable efficiency rate in a changing society. In fact the Dabbawalas have since adopted the use of mobile telephones and the internet. Mobile phones are mostly used to communicate only incoming. Website and SMS is used to gather more customers and give information.

What do you think are the main threats to this service? Indirect competition is being faced from caterers like the Maharaja community. Indirect threats from fast food outlets and hotels are also of concern. The other threat to the service is the dependability of the local rail network. Dabbawallas use the local trains to transport the Dabbas from the distribution centers to different hubs in the city. They rely on the rail network service. Any changes in train Time tables can affect their dependability and service. The inclement weather during the monsoon season in India is a harbinger of disease. This creates difficulties for the Dabbawalas in making sure the food is transported in a safe manner from a sanitation standpoint. Increasing labor cost, transportation costs do not fare well for Dabbawalas. They charge a meager amount in return for their services. They need to ensure that there are no rifts between management and workforce, no labor strikes and to keep that bond between them strong.