AbstractChallenges and uncertainties resulting from the volatile global market environment require organisations to operate efficiently, hold on to their market share and increase product value to stay competitive. Achievement of these goals depends on a number of factors. One of the routes that are pivotal to a positive contribution is the effective development of operations strategy. This requires visibility of the current level of the organisation that will help direct the strategy in the appropriate direction to achieve maximum benefit. Additionally, if the organisations can get a good understanding of their current positioning and level, they can proactively pursue to move to the next level.
While the above mentioned may seem straight forward, it is not due to various reasons. There is also the absence of effective routes to facilitate organisations to take this step with confidence. The lack of some form of guidance and informal nature of operations can be an issue especially for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Understanding the key problem and gaps will establish suitable guidance in this area that organisations can use. The core of the thesis concerns these developments.
The thesis aims to investigate the process of improving manufacturing SME operations. This is by exploring actions taken by ‘competitive SMEs’ to discover decisions, actions, practices and tools which contribute towards improved operations and competitiveness. The research adapted mixed-methods qualitative and quantitative enquiry by combining the use of questionnaire, interviews and Delphi.
The findings reveal that to be competitive, the role of operations should be shifted towards attaining quality and dependability capabilities. The process can be initiated by starting improvement activities, consisting of making decisions and carrying out actions which contribute towards improvement in quality and dependability. To get an effective result, improvement activities are suggested to be implemented within 3 years and included within short to medium term strategic planning.
There are four original contributions made by the research. First, it provides the tools and actions required to improve manufacturing SMEs operations. Second, a timeline is provided to show when the tools and actions should be carried out. The tools, actions and timeline are integrated by creating the Action-Time Framework (ATF). Fourth, it contributes by designing a research method which can be used to examine taxonomy-type framework and increase data validity. Finally, the data used for the development of the framework was derived by experiences from real SMEs managers, owners and expert panel which have a vast knowledge regarding operations in manufacturing and improvement programs.
In general, the thesis addresses the need to establish a framework by creating the ATF, which provide support to organisations by not only giving directions on where it should be and how to improve but also providing guidance when actions should be initiated. In the end, it will benefit a new start-up and also organisations which is still unclear about the strategic operations direction that should be pursued.
|Date of Award||Nov 2019|
|Supervisor||Ivan Arokiam (Supervisor)|