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Competitive Operations

People and Processes

Operations often gets relegated to a support role. Most organizations spend their energy looking for that breakthrough or new technology to give them the competitive edge, ignoring what they all ready have. Then there are those who look at what they all ready have and realize that if their existing operation was "tuned up" they could actually offer better customer service whilst making more money. But is "tuning up" enough? - unlikely, tuning up is just tinkering. What you really need to become the market leader is for the whole operation to deliver and that requires aligning the operations strategy with the competitive priorities.

All businesses are made of of processes. Processes are the fundamental activities that organizations use to do their work and achieve their goals. The combination of people and processes determines the experience that a customer has when they interact with your organization and it is these experiences that determine whether a customer will return or not. If the experience is a truly exceptional one, then a customer will be so delighted that they will tell all their friends about it and this is when your business really grows - you have made your operation into a competitive weapon.

It is important to take a process view of organizations as an organization is only as effective as its processes. Flowcharting is a useful way of displaying processes. All processes have inputs, actions and outputs and must add value for their customers to produce a competitive operation.

Organizations that provide development paths and learning opportunities for their staff that are aligned to the operations strategy will deliver a more competitive operation than those that do not provide employee development.

Crown Castle International CCI is among the largest cellular tower companies in the world, owning and operating 10,000 wireless communications sites in the United States and 1500 in Australia. CCI was able to use its BSC (Balanced Score Card) scorecard and Six Sigma operating team to reduce its cycle time for setting up new antennas for customers. In 2004, it took 70% less cycle time than two years ago to achieve application to on-air for its wireless customers. CCI engages its field staff employees to gain their perspectives and input on standards and best practices. The company established a measures steering committee, a sort of council, which has members from the corporate and field levels to meet and improve the quality of CCI's measures and to ensure their efficient adoption.

Dell Computers In 1984, Dell founded the Dell Computer Corporation with $1,000. By 2002, Dell has grown into a $31.2 billion company. Today, Dell's average earnings are $40 million per day, and it is the largest online commercial computer seller in the world. Dell has turned its operation into a competitive weapon. Dell is so integrated with its suppliers that it can calculate sales promotions based upon material availability and have these offers on their web site within 20 minutes, steering their customers towards the best deals for the customer and for Dell.

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