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Financial crisis severely hit the £3 billion Indian food industry but Indians continued to be hooked on the quality ready meals and other Indian products from super markets or corner stores. Other ethnic group people are also like spicy Indian food so it has got a tremendous potential in UK retail store industry. The industry figures shows that demand for Indian meals or other grocery items increasing rapidly and super market chains are struggling to meet the demands of consumers (Anon, Online, 2009). According to wiki it is estimated that about 2% of total population of UK are Indians or Indian origins. Major cities like London, Birmingham and Leicester consist of big Asian communities it gives SMEs like Azam Super market a great opportunity to expand their business in that particular industry.
Operation strategy perspectives
"Operations strategy concerns the pattern of strategic decision and actions which sets the role, objectives and activities of the operation ............" (Slack et al. 2010, p-62) While, the operations strategy content is about "What the key decision areas that need to be addressed in developing an operations strategy are" (Slack et. al., 2010, pp 62-63). According to Slack and Lewis Operations strategy is the total outline of decisions which figure out the long term capabilities of any type of operations and their contribution to the overall strategy, through the reconciliation of market requirements with operations resources (Online, Wiki books)
The four perspectives on operations strategy
Different authors have slightly different opinions about Operations strategy. Operations strategy is undoubtedly part of an organisations total strategy but this topic has slightly different views and definitions. Operations strategy might come out in a top-down or a bottom-up method with look upon to business and corporate strategies. Likewise, an operations strategy can be built up in reaction to market needs or be based on the capacity of its operations resources (Slack and Lewis, 2002). Each perspective places a different emphasis on the nature of the operations strategy process. Below shown chart of 4 perspectives not giving the full picture of what operations strategy is. But together they provide some idea of the pressure which goes to form the content of operations strategy
What the business wants operations to do
What day to day experience suggests operations should do Bottom-up
Operations resources perspective
What operations resources can do?
What the market position requires operations to do
Source: (Slack et al. 2010, p 65)
In the top down perspective shows that what the whole group or business wants to do?
In the bottom perspective where operations improvements cumulatively build strategy.
Operations strategy involves translating market requirements into operations decisions.
Operations strategy involves exploiting the capabilities of operations resources in chosen markets.
Source: (Slack et al. 2010, p 65)
In this case study about Azam super market a SME, many researches reveals that the IT offers exciting new opportunities for SMEs to develop their customer base into the global environment (Tetteh E & Burn F, Online). In order to achieve these advantages in global strategy Azam Super market needs to implement a completely different approach to the strategic planning and management. This will comprises what type of new ideas the management wants to adopt and what parts of the areas in the UK to operate and to open new retail outlets and how to allocate the finance in different areas of business. This case study reveals that Azam super market is going through "top-down" perspective of operations strategy. According to this perspective, the task for operations would be determined logically from the business strategy. Using five operations performance objectives is one way of articulating the operations task (Slack & Lewis, 2002).
Azam super market should adopt "bottom-up" perspective of operations strategy. The bottom-up perspective is one in which the organization learns from its experiences, developing and enhancing its operational capabilities as operations managers try new things out in an almost experimental fashion using their workplaces as a kind of 'learning laboratory' (Slack & Lewis, 2002). They already been in the market for some years and got valuable experience from the particular industry. So it has been recommended that to adopt "bottom-up" perspective of operations strategy.
The management in the system is well aware about the opportunities of internet based business. Experience from this industry is a massive advantage for them to take up their business in to next level. The only problem they are facing is Azam super market is targeting mainly a particular ethnic group. It might be a problem for them to develop more areas in future.
Operational stage diagnosis
Two professors named Hayes and Wheelwright have developed four stage models which should be helpful to evaluate the competitive role and contribution of the operations function of Azam super market.
Stage 1 - Internal neutrality
When evaluate with other stages of operations it is crystal clear that this is the poorest level of contribution by the operations function. This is inward looking and very little positive to donate towards competitive success (Slack et al. 2010, p 63).
Stage 2 - External neutrality
In this second stage this function is least helpful for the companies to instantly get in to the market in first stage, but it could be evaluating itself against the competitor's performance and trying to adopt suitable ideas from them. By taking the best ideas and norms of performance from the rest of its industry, it is trying to be externally neutral (Slack et al. 2010, p 63).
Stage 3 - Internally supportive
In stage 3 operations they have almost reached the initial division in their market. They may not be superior to their competitors but they are generally up with the best. The operation is trying to be internally supportive by providing a credible operations strategy (Slack et al. 2010, pp 63-64)
Stage 4 - Externally supportive
In stage 4 companies are one which observes the market operations function as giving the base for its competitive success and operations appear to long term (Slack et al. 2010, p 64).
According to these theories, Azam Super market stands in stage 3 operations and they are among the best in that particular segment. . "Yet stage 3 operations still aspire to be clearly and unambiguously the very best in the market. They achieve this by gaining a clear view of the company's competitive or strategic goals and supporting it by developing appropriate operations resources. The operation is trying to be 'internally supportive' by providing a credible operations strategy" (Slack et. al., 2007). They been in this business for few years and got very good knowledge and experience. But they neither comes up in the top performers category nor in the under performers category. These arguments show that Azam Super market clearly comes in Stage 3 - internally supportive operations.
Management decision to utilise the opportunities of internet related service and to open new branches with in the selected ethnic majority areas brings them to stage 4 operations. "A stage 4 company is one which sees the operations function as providing the foundation for its competitive success. Operations look to the long term. If forecasts likely changes in markets and it develop the operations-based capabilities which will be required to compete in future market conditions. Stage 4 operations are innovative, creative and proactive and are driving the company's strategy by being one step ahead of competitors" (Slack et. al., 2007)
The implementation of Information technology related services operations in SMEs brings them forward in to the global economy and it eventually gives them courage to face the competition from their opponents. Electronic related services and effective organising competence are shaping the competitive performance of SMEs in global economy. The internet has become a vital role in every part of human activities like education, business, advertisement, and communication with massive innovative technologies and ideas of human interactivity. Meantime, SMEs in the UK has increased their operations in internet to expand their business with the help of its global reach. The main findings in this case study are some positive approach from the management to accept and utilise the massive opportunities of internet related services and to open new branches in other areas to develop their business.
Some limitations have been faced during the case study:
Forecasting statistics are not provided nor do the current economic stability of the organisation.
Focus on other minority ethnic group ( Mainly Asian community)
More focus on chilled or ready meal traditional foods