Term Paper: Long-Term Productivity in Business Workers

Pages: 18 (4500 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business - Management  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] Standards that are applied in an industrial setting include engineering standards, which in turn include standardization of properties of materials, of fits and tolerances, of terminology for both materials and practices and of drafting practices. Common standards also include specifications for the description of the various attributes and ingredients of any complex manufactured items. These may take the form of drawings, formulas, materials lists, descriptions, or models.

The ISO 9000 standards were finalized and published in 1987 by the International Organization for Standards. The worldwide standards are divided into five subsets that establish the requirements for the management of quality as summarized below:

Summary of ISO 9000 Standards

Standard

Provides definitions and concepts.

Explains how to select other standards for a given business.

Quality assurance in design, development, production, installation, and servicing.

Quality assurance in production and installation.

Quality assurance in test and inspection.

Quality management and quality system elements.

The ISO standards are used by the 15-nation European Economic Community to provide a universal framework for quality assurance that is enforced through a system of internal and external audits to ensure that "a certified company has a quality system and processes in place to meet its published quality standards." In 1987 the United States adopted the ISO 9000 Series verbatim as the ANSI/ASQC Q-90 Series.

The ISO 9000 standards have recently been updated to the ISO 14000 that is actually is a series of generic environmental management standards "designed to manage environmental compliance with legislative and regulatory requirements and provide a worldwide focus on the environment" and are based on growing world-wide environmental concerns.

Standardization is, after all, meant to make life better for workers and business owners, who are, after all citizens of the global community before they are anything else.

The importance of standardization to productivity can perhaps be better understood if we remember that doing business is mathematics by other means - all a question of keeping equations in balance on both sides. Labor must be balanced with capital. Resources with allocation. Customers with services or goods. Workers with rewards.

At the heart of an ideal operation - by which is usually meant a business, but a number of other multi-person organizations also qualify - is a sound theory of operations strategy. Part of that strategy must be a well-designed program of material requirements planning or MRP. MRP as an overall strategy is most effective when based on an ISO 9000 standardization.

Industrial management in business is a term used to describe the techniques and expertise of efficient organization, planning, direction, and control of the operations of a business. In the theory of industrial management, organization has two principal aspects. One relates to the establishment of lines of responsibility, drawn usually in the form of an organization chart that designates the executives of the business, from the president to the foreperson or department head, and specifies the functions for which they are responsible. The other principal aspect relates to the development of a staff of qualified executives (Johnson, Newell & Vergin 19).

Both of these principals will be far more easily established and maintained if a system of standardization is in place.

Planning in industrial management must also establish broad basic policies with respect to production; sales; the purchase of equipment, materials, and supplies; and accounting. Obviously, these two are more easily accomplished through standardization. Planning must also relate to the implementation of these policies by departments as well as relate to the establishment of standards of work in all departments.

Put somewhat more simply, operations management is simply the process of obtaining and using resources to produce useful good and services in a way that meets the goals of a particular organization.

Those needs will be best met when they are themselves standardized so that all supplies can be measured against an already established standard. This is true if the organization is a manufacturer - but might also easily be a hospital, department store, or university. The goals of the organization might be to maximize profits, to reduce morbidity, to increase prestige, or to provide the best possible service within a given budget. The resources can be dramatically different from each other - carrots, wing nuts, or expertise in comparative literature - but can always be divided into labor and capital. (Johnson, Newell & Vergin 37).

Although most people may not realize this, modern ISO standards actually owe quite a lot to Frederick Taylor. He provided perhaps the most important impetus to the evolution of industrial management by developing techniques for analyzing the operations involved in production and for setting standards for a day's work.

Indeed Taylor, who was an American industrial engineer, may be said to have invented the idea of scientific management in business and in many ways was the first to understand the standardization could be applied to more than just parts. In 1878, he began working at the Midvale Steel Company and there applied himself - as head of steel production - to studies in the measurement of industrial productivity. Through his own hands-on industrial experience, Taylor developed a number of complex and detailed systems that were designed to gain maximum efficiency from both workers and machines in the factory. These systems relied on time and motion studies, which help determine the best methods for performing a task in the least amount of time (Moskowitz & Wright 119).

Essentially, Taylor propounded a new philosophy that stated that the scientific method could and should be applied to all managerial problems and that the methods by which work is accomplished should be determined by managers through scientific investigation. This emphasis on a scientific perspective translated into an emphasis on standardization.

The Importance of Standardization in Operations Strategy

The operation of large business firms is characterized by a great complexity of organization and administration. The highest level of management is concerned with the overall planning and evaluation of production and distribution, and various administrative departments carry on the functions of research, production, finance, and marketing. Operations strategy helps reduce the complexity of the job of running a complex enterprise.

One of the reasons that all of these levels of workers (and authority) can mesh with each other is a reliance on standardized systems.

Efficiency is important to organizations, and to our society, because efficiency in one area allows greater efforts in another. A business firm that reduces its inventories, while maintaining its level of customer service, has more funds available to invest in developing new products. This leads, in turn, to more jobs. A school board that reduces its transportation costs has more money to spend on special reading programs for elementary school children. A society that satisfies its housing and sustenance needs more efficiently has more resources (including time) to expend in improving the quality of life. Thus efficient utilization of resources is one major way for an operations manager to contribute to achieving the goals or objectives of the organization and of society.

In any ongoing operation, the operations manager must supervise the flow of inputs and outputs and mange the use of the resources involved. It is far easier to assess both inputs and outputs if their measurement is standardized. To be effective, the manager must be able to pinpoint the important problems and the resources that are the most limited. An operations manager must plan the use of resources, predict the impact on goals and coordinate the implementation of the plan. But before an operation is even begun, an operations manager must design the physical facilities, including the location and capacity, as well as the staffing an work flow system to be used.

This requires a constant balancing act between labor, machines, capital and various components and subcomponents:

An item has dependent demand whenever its demand depends on the demand for another item or product. For example, the demand for automobile engines or transmissions depends directly on the demand for the final product, automobiles. The MRP approach is particularly appropriate for manufacturing operations in which the demand for subassemblies, component parts and raw materials is dependent upon an end product. These dependent-demand items have a demand pattern that is not smooth over time, but lumpy. Demand that is lumpy occurs in discrete batches at different points in time.

Another important aspect of standardization is that it allows for the company that is internally run along standardized lines to fit more easily into the industry as a whole:

The systems approach to problem solving involves viewing the organization as a component of a larger environment with which it interacts. Furthermore, the organization itself is viewed as a system with mutually dependent components. The behavior of any particular department influences (and is influenced by) the behavior of other departments. Before a problem can be solved to benefit the organization as a whole, it must be correctly identified and put in proper perspective. At the outset, then, problems are not necessarily thought of as being confined to a particular department or component.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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