Best Practices of Microsoft


Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates has credited his best practices or new rules of how to function in the new digital business infrastructure. They can be applied in other businesses. The rules include:

  1. Insist that communications flow through email
  2. Study sales data online to share insights easily
  3. Shift knowledge workers into high level thinking
  4. Use digital tools to create virtual teams
  5. Convert every paper process to  digital process
  6. Use digital tools to eliminate single-task jobs
  7. Create a digital feedback loop
  8. Use digital systems to route customer complaints immediately
  9. Use digital communication to redefine boundaries
  10. Transform every business process into just-in-time delivery
  11. Use digital delivery to eliminate middlemen
  12. Use digital tools to help customers solve problems for themselves.

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.

Online Retail Selling: Barriers to Success


i.            Increasing consumers’ comfort levels: Online retailers need to improve convenience and value for customers and assist them in overcoming their concerns about security and trust.

ii.            Resolving technological limitations: The ability for online retailers to deliver unique experiences is linked to technology improvements. The internet is still constrained by lack of bandwidth and problems with reliability.

iii.            Rapidly scaling internal operations: Online retailers face the challenges of managing significant growth, internal organizational change and developing and scaling their customer service and fulfillment infrastructure—all while the technology is still evolving.

iv.            Engineering comprehensive convenience: Customers identify many convenience problems with today’s online environment. Among them are the need for customers to reenter personal data on different sites, the vide variation in customer service across sites and the lack of coordination between online and offline retail environments on the part of retailers using both channels.

v.            Resolving channel conflict: many offline retailers believe that there is a risk of cannibalizing sales through existing channels by going online. Many manufacturers fear alienating their existing distribution partners by providing an alternative channel for customers to purchase. These perceived channel conflicts are keeping some traditional retailers and manufacturers from joining the Internet.

vi.            Developing low-cost distribution: Distribution system can be expensive. Online fulfillment systems are still developing and there is a disconnect between what is required and what is currently offered by existing offline systems.

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.

 

Industrial Competitiveness


The European Management Forum defines industrial competitiveness as “the immediate and future ability of, and opportunities for, entrepreneurs to design, produce and market goods within their respective environments whose price and non-price qualities form a more attractive package than those of competitors.”

The major factors affect competitiveness:

  • The dynamism of the economy measured by criteria such as growth rates, monetary strength, industrial production and per capita performance.
  • Industrial efficacy, which involves direct and indirect employee costs, per capita output, employee motivation, turnover and absenteeism.
  • The dynamics of the market, when efforts to improve competitiveness are increased and better directed to more intensive market forces.
  • Financial dynamism that is the strength and importance of the commercial banking sector, stock and bond markets and their ability to provide capital.
  • Human resources that is the dynamism of the population and the labor force, employment, unemployment, executive quality and motivation.
  • The role of the state in fiscal policies and other regulations.
  • Resources and infrastructure (transport and communications facilities), domestic energy and raw material sources.
  • Outward orientation, the will to promote trade actively, buying and selling goods, service-related investments or any other form of international exchange.
  • Innovative forward orientation which emphasis national research and development efforts, corporate and government attitudes to exploiting new ideas, products and production processes.
  • Socio-political consensus and stability, the degree to which strategies and policies reflect a society’s aspirations.

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.

The Challenges of Global Business


Many past political barriers to trade have fallen or been minimized, expanding and operating new market opportunities. Managers who can meet the challenges of creating and implementing effective and sensitive business strategies for the global marketplace can help lead their companies to success. Multinational corporations, such as, General Electric and Ford, which derive a substantial portion of their revenues from international business, depend on savvy managers who can adapt to different cultures. Lucent Technologies has invested more than $24 million in a design center in China in an effort to aid in China’s modernization of its infrastructure and telecommunications technology. The income potential from Lucent, which manufactures, designs, and delivers products for networking, communications systems, software, data networking systems, business telephone systems, and microelectronics components, is enormous. Small businesses, too, can succeed in foreign markets when their managers have carefully studied those markets and prepared and implemented appropriate strategies. Being globally aware is therefore an important quality for today’s managers and will become a critical attribute for managers of the 21st century.

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.

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.

The Provider Gaps


The provider gaps are the underlying causes behind the customer gap:

Gap 1:  Not knowing what customers expect.

Gap 2:  Not selecting the right service designs and standards.

Gap 3:  Not delivering to service standards.

Gap 4: Not matching performance to promises.

A primary cause in many firms for not meeting customers’ expectations is that the firm lacks accurate understanding of exactly what those expectations are. A gap exists (gap 1) between company perceptions of customer expectations and what customers actually expect. Explore why this gap occurs and develop strategies for closing it.

Even if a firm does clearly understand its customers’ expectations, there still may be problems if that understanding is not translated into customer-driven service designs and standards (gap 2). Focus on reasons for gap 2 and strategies for designing services and developing standards to meet customer expectations.

Once service designs and standards are in place, it would seem the firm is well on its way to delivering high-quality services. This is true, but still not enough. There must be systems, processes, and people in place to ensure that service delivery actually matches (or even better than) the designs and standards in place (gap 3). See how and why gap 3 can occur and specific process, people, and infrastructure strategies for closing this gap.

And finally, with everything in place to effectively meet or exceed customer expectations, the firm must ensure that what is promised to customers matches what is delivered (gap 4). Focus on strategies for communicating effectively with customers and for ensuring that promises, once made, can and will be kept.

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.

Japan’s Manufacturing Techniques


Nations are built not with bricks and stones but with the capacity to create and apply knowledge. The result of knowledge creation and application in manufacturing and management practices is well demonstrated by Japan. Today we are witness to many industrialized economies that are strengthening their manufacturing activities simply by adopting these techniques.

The distinguishing characteristics associated with Japanese manufacturing techniques include an emphasis on designing and redesigning processes to optimize efficiency and a strong commitment to quality.

The manufacturing techniques that Japanese companies practice provide a competitive advantage and outstanding economic performance. The key for success is an understanding of the broad context of manufacturing culture, infrastructure and environment. These sound manufacturing and business techniques created and adopted by leading Japanese manufacturers have turned out to be the secret of their market leadership in many industries.

Following are a few of these concepts, which can help in managing any business set-up in a better way:

  • Kaizen is one such technique, which in Japanese means ‘improve.’ This is commonly recognized as practices focusing on continuous improvement in manufacturing activities, business activities in general, and even life in general, depending on interpretation and usage. By improving standardized activities and processes, Kaizen helps in eliminating waste.
  • Another management Japanese technique is the 5-S. It is a technique used to establish and maintain quality environment in an organization. It has five elements: Seiri (sorting out useful and frequently used materials and tools from unwanted and rarely used things); Seiton (keeping things in the right place systematically so that searching or movement time is minimized); Seiso (keeping everything around you clean and in a neat manner); Seiketsu (standardizing the above principles in everyday life) and Shitsuke (inculcating good habits and practicing them continuously). The 5-S practice helps everyone in the organization to live a better life.
  • Kanban and ‘Just in Time’ are two other practices in inventory management practices that were pioneered by the Japanese automobile manufacturers, such as Toyota. Quality improvement, on the other hand, is the result of lower proportion of component scrap since the components spend less time in the supply chain.
  • Poka-yoke is a process improvement focused on training of workers for mastering the increasingly complicated tasks to selectively redesign the tasks so they could be more easily and reliably mastered. It involves designing a foolproof process to eliminate the chance of errors.
  • Jidoka is a practice by means of which an individual worker runs several machines simultaneously. Japan thus designs such machines that eliminate both error and the need for constant supervision.
  • Muda is another technique that reduces wasteful activity in service processes. It ensures process efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Mura curiously combines rigidity and flexibility and thus teaches service process improvement.
  • Reducing Muri means reducing physical strain. In services process improvement, Muri applies to convoluted and unnecessary routings, physical transfer, and distances paper files may have to travel for a process to complete.
  • Genchi Gembutsu means going to the actual scene (genchi) and confirming the actual scene (gembutsu). Observation of service processes at the point where it is actually delivered may unearth a host of problems such as lack of training, unnecessary steps, or a number of other areas that would benefit from small but significant process improvement ideas.

This is a glimpse of manufacturing techniques that Japan has so intellectually created and so profoundly practiced in its manufacturing systems that even with no natural resources, it has acquired the status of one of the most industrialized nations. Can we learn from Japan?

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, Lectures, Line of Sight.

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