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Evaluating Best Practices: Managing Quality, Speed, Flexibility And Information As An Asset

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Evaluating Best Practices: Managing Quality, Speed, Flexibility and Information as an Asset

Contemporary Issues in Leadership and Management / MM 590

October 16, 2006

Managing Quality, Speed, Flexibility and Information as an Asset

In the business industry today companies do not have the option of cutting corners when it comes to quality, speed, flexibility and managing information as an asset. Businesses are born, growing or dieing off every day. If a company desires to grow it must ensure that all facets of its operations and processes updated, run efficiently and managed effectively. This paper will evaluate five best practices used to manage quality, speed, flexibility and manage information as an asset. The best practices identified will be evaluated for their strengths and weaknesses. The paper will also identify companies that use the best practices acknowledged in this paper and cover how they use the different processes to their benefit. The best practices identified through the research on managing quality, speed, flexibility and information used as an asset will be used to evaluate and make recommended changes to Home Depot's existing practices.

Businesses are expanding globally everyday requiring them to develop different ways to adapt to the changing business environment and to maintain a competitive edge in their industry. Only a few short years ago businesses focused primarily on cutting costs, restructuring and re-engineering as a means of managing quality, speed and flexibility. Today many businesses also lean towards growth by branching out into related areas or other industries, researching new products and services (quality), technological advances (speed) as a means to provide a vast range of merchandise and services (flexibility) and manage to keep the methods and processes internal (managing information as an asset).

Evaluating Quality, Speed and Flexibility as a Best Practice

In order for companies to be successful in a rapidly changing environment, they need to be able to respond immediately to opportunities and threats by producing new products and services while minimizing operational costs. By companies enabling themselves to manage quality, speed and flexibility, they will be able to meet the unique challenges that face them. The increased requirement to advance technology electronically has made a monumental shift from the much slower process of using the mechanistic methods of old. There is an increased expectation for error-free automation, changing customer expectations and shortened deadlines for delivery of the products or services. This has caused companies to find ways to minimize human errors by using technology more intelligently. Added to the constantly changing business environment and changing customer expectations is the demand to meet government regulatory compliance requirements. As companies expand their markets and production globally, the amounts of regulations the companies must comply with have increased immensely. This global expansion is due to the increasing pressures to meet customer and client expectations, the needs are continually changing, and increasing which in turn is causing competition to find ways to ramp up their quality and speed and find new ways to be more flexible with processes. As new businesses continue to pop up everywhere giving the customer many different options, companies must take the necessary steps to increase product quality, the speed at which they can provide the product and continue to search out ways to remain flexible with the options available to them.

One area considered a best practice in the area of managing a company's quality, speed and flexibility comes from knowledge management. This process is "increasingly acknowledged as a corporate asset; ...some argue that it has supplanted the traditional factors of production - land, labor and capital - to become the preeminent corporate and competitive resource." (Bogdanowicz & Bailey, 2002) The companies that use this best practice must understand that today's workforce tends to stay with a company on average only 18 months and as long as they feel like they are being used appropriately by sharing knowledge, they will remain with the company. Another process involves systems and sustainability mixed with society. The article mentions expanding the company's approach through systems thinking where "people function within organizations...operate within alliances, which compete within industries that must integrate with societies, governments and cultures." (Systems, Sustainability and Society, 2002) Another article discusses the importance of managing quality, speed and flexibility through an internal process. This best practice uses a process called knowledge-based organization (KBO) which addresses issues with the management of professional workers to continue company growth. This article makes the point that enhancing professions to improve quality, speed and flexibility viewed as "a resource, rather than a topic for research in organizational studies." (Cohen, Finn, Wilkinson & Arnold, 2002)

According to one article, corporate culture is a driving force for a company to gain competitive advantages in their respective industry. The author identifies managing quality, speed and flexibility comes by investing in the company's culture. "True competitive advantage comes when corporate culture is well defined, nurtured throughout the organization and embodied by all employees." (Jaquenoud, 2005) He also states that this type of process for improving a company's quality, speed and flexibility help to improve the working relationship of the company's stakeholders. The last best practice evaluated is a new optimization and management services process that monitors, updates and implements third-generation (3G) data services. The article mentions two very important influences in the wireless cellular network industry are "the increasing complexity of wireless network services and the increasing customer demands and competitive pressures upon cellular service providers." (Buvaneswari, Ravishankar, Graybeal, Haner & Rittenhouse, 2004) This new process will not only increase cellular network quality, speed and flexibility but it will also allow these companies to "monitor, diagnose, and optimize their increasingly complex networks." (Buvaneswari, et al., 2004) All five best practices have strengths and weaknesses covered further on in the paper.

Managing Information as an Asset

Managing

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