Value Chain Analysis


The term value chain describes a way of looking at a business as a chain of activities that transform inputs into outputs that customers value. Customer value derives from three basic sources: activities that differentiate the product, activities that lower its cost, and activities that meet the customer’s need quickly. Value chain analysis (VAC) attempts to understand how a business creates customer value by examining the contributions of different activities within the business to that value.

VCA takes a process point of view: it divides (sometimes called disaggregates) the business into sets of activities that occur within the business, starting with the inputs a firm receives and finishing with the firm’s products (or services) and after-sales service to customers. VCA attempts to look at its costs across the series of activities the business performs to determine where low-cost advantages or cost disadvantages exist. It looks at the attributes of each of these different activities to determine in what ways each activity that occurs between purchasing inputs and after-sales service helps differentiate the company’s products and services. Proponents of VCA believe it allows managers to better identify their firm’s strengths and weaknesses by looking at the business as a process—a chain of activities—of what actually happens in the business rather than simply looking at it based on arbitrary organizational dividing lines or historical accounting protocol.

Judgment is required across individual firms and different industries because what may be seen as a support activity in one firm or industry may be a primary activity in another. Computer operations might typically be seen as infrastructure support, for example, but may be seen as a primary activity in airlines, newspapers, or banks.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Deming’s 14 Obligations


Many people helped develop quality management, and some of the early ones are called the ‘quality gurus.’ Perhaps Edwards Deming was one of the best known. He did a lot to publicize TQM. But was concerned that organizations did not get the benefits they expected. To help them on the way, he compiled a list of guidelines called his ’14 obligations.’ They are:

  1. Create constancy of purpose towards product quality.
  2. Adapt the new philosophy of higher quality, refusing to accept customary levels of defects and errors.
  3. Stop depending on mass inspection, build quality into your product.
  4. Don’t award business on the basis of price only – reduce the number of of suppliers and insist on meaningful measures of quality.
  5. Develop programs for continuous improvement of your products and processes.
  6. Train all your employees.
  7. Focus supervision on helping employees to do a better job.
  8. Drive out fear by encouraging two-way communication.
  9. Break down barriers between departments and encourage problem solving through teamwork.
  10. Don’t use posters and slogans that demand improvements without saying how to achieve them.
  11. Eliminate arbitrary quotes and targets that interfere with quality.
  12. Remove barriers that stop people having pride in their work.
  13. Have programs for lifelong education, training and self-improvement.
  14. Put everyone to work on implementing these 14 points.

Deming’s 14 points are not a program that has fixed duration, but the give a new way of thinking in your organization. They are certainly not the only possible view, but they do give some useful guidelines.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, www.youtube.com/asifjmir, Line of Sight

Direct and Indirect Costs


In manufacturing, “direct costs” refer to costs that are readily traceable to products—for example, direct material and direct labor. The term is also used to identify costs that are traced as incurred to specific functions, to distinguish them from allocated or transferred costs. In distribution the classification of costs as direct or indirect depends on the segment. The more general the segment (sales division in sales territory), the greater the portion of costs directly traceable to it, the more specific the segment (products, customers), the greater the proportion of indirect costs. Direct costs are those costs that can be traced to a business segment. If that segment were eliminated, the costs no longer would be incurred.

Indirect costs, costs such as general administrative expenses, are often allocated  to segments, but this process is arbitrary at best and should be avoided.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight