Apple Incorporated operates in market segments that are defined by differing consumer needs. This implies that Apple is required to develop strategies with keen consideration on differences in their market segments. Furthermore, international businesses are required to develop positive brand images that would boost their performance during financial strife and improve the resilience of their products. This is another issue that may affect the specific strategies that are adopted by international businesses when developing their operational strategies. It is noteworthy that in addition to competing with local established business, Apple has to compete with multinationals and transnationals. Understanding the role of the planning department in strategic management in Apple is important in developing appreciation of the requirements and challenges that such businesses face. International businesses transact volumes of trades that are higher than those transacted by small local business which place them in a better position to determine trends within an industry and affect economies (De Wit & Meyer 2010). Thus, the paper is important for it helps ensure that businesses adopt best practices in implementing their operational strategies.
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The planning department in Apple is tasked with analysing the operations of different departments and the firm as a whole, analysing changes in the industry and macro environment conditions and also monitoring changes in organisational capabilities and how they influence the positioning of the firm in the market and industry. Since international firms operate using different formats, planning may be carried out within a division or from local divisions. In Apple, there is local planning for the different stores and centralized planning for Apple as a global brand (Apple 2003). In either case, there is a tight link between the planning activities and research and development. The planning department has to work in tandem with the executive management and all others parties that are involved in making decisions within such firms (Johnson, Scholes & Whittington 2008). The existence of intelligence on changes in the social and political spheres and the implications that they have in the strategic positioning of a firm, SWOT analysis of a firmââ‚¬â„¢s internal capabilities and the positioning of a firm within industries in different nations and at a global level have to be considered in developing operational strategies.
The planning department is tasked with monitoring the operations of other department within the firm. It is common for international firms to centralise their research and development activities and therefore their major planning activities. Decentralisation of minor planning activities and decisions on operations within different Apple stores is also common for it ensures relevance of the strategies adapted to the local markets. In case of centralised planning, the planning department has to collect data on the operations in all its stores globally. This is demanding and can be problematic if the process is not well coordinated. High levels of coordination and effective leadership are therefore essential requirement for such planning departments (De Wit & Meyer 2010).
Communication with other departments may affect the accuracy of the data collected. Therefore, developing effective lines of communication between the planning department and other department within Apple Inc. is critical. It is therefore not surprising that Apple invests heavily on new technology so as to improve coordination between the different entities involved in its operations (De Wit & Meyer 2010). Evidently, the planning department plays a central role in presenting facts upon which decisions on the strategies that are adopted by firms are based. Therefore, strategic management and innovation within Apple Inc. is largely dependent on the operations of its planning department. Owing to the central positioning of the planning department, it is highly likely that it will play various roles in improving strategic management within Apple Inc.
Strategic planning in simple terms is an avenue through which organisation establish the path that they will be taking in their operations and the operational objectives. Strategic planning is a complex organisational endeavour that typically involves executive managers, operational managers and representatives of the employees. In some cases, representatives of the employees are not included though this is ill advised considering that the strategies emanating from strategic planning are to be implemented by the employees. In Apple Inc. employees are spread all over the globe which complicates representation and could be a key stumbling block (Apple 2003). Another important aspect is that there are varied views on the specific strategic direction that should be adopted by a firm. The Apples stores may be characterised by differing viewpoints on the specific directions that the firm should adopt. In such a case, consensus building on the specific strategic direction that a company should adopt may be problematic and there is high risk of developing subjective strategies.
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In strategic planning, there are different kinds of environments that businesses should consider. Businesses should consider their external environment, their internal environments and the industry conditions when developing operational strategies. It is noteworthy that there are a host of other internal issues such as diversity, change management, internal organisational structures, the prevailing strategies and organisational culture that have to be considered by businesses when developing their operational strategies (Mintzberg et al 2003). The multiple requirements that businesses should have in mind when developing their internal strategies place immense pressure on organisations to have structures that can ensure that investigative tasks in strategic planning are effectively carried out (Kohli & Melville 2009). The planning department houses experts in data collection and analysis who are well placed to determine the trends in the operational environment and what they mean for an organisation. Furthermore, the emphasis placed on factual data in strategic planning and objectivity is only possible with the inclusion of the planning department. The planning department in an organisation helps the strategy formulation team develops a deeper understanding of the variables involved in analyzing the organisation thus improving the levels of objectivity that can be attained in the formulation and implementation of operational strategies. The information relayed by the planning department is highly likely to be perceived as objective and not favouring any of the stakeholders or the divisions. Importantly, planners have to support their recommendations on the strategies that businesses should adopt with factual data that can be scrutinised by different entities involved in formulation of the operational strategies.
Planners are tasked with providing suitable directions that organisation should consider so as to harness the opportunities and deal with the threats associated with their operations. Developing SMARTER goals or objectives that form the basis of the operational strategies that businesses have in mind is an issue of strategic importance that cannot be properly handled without the inclusion of the planning department. It is noteworthy that the stakeholders in Apple Inc. are of different nationalities and have different perceptions of value which complicates assessment (Linnarson 2005). The different Apple Stores may be characterised by different local cultures and expectations which may affect their view of what constitutes a well developed goal. Furthermore, in strategic planning there are some organisational goals that are qualitative and therefore cannot be easily measured using empirical approaches. Strengthening the organisational culture, improving workforce cohesion and improving the levels of employee satisfaction are typical qualitative goals in strategic planning that cannot be measured using empirical methods and tools. The planning department is home to professionals on different types of data that have access and knowledge of tools that can be used in quantifying qualitative objectives such that they are stated as SMARTER objectives. These steps help in maintaining high levels of objectivity in strategic formulation and go a long way in addressing some of the common complexities that international businesses face when formulating their operational objectives.
Apple Inc. has a complex matrix organisational structure so as to support the multiple processes involved in their operations. Though the approach is quite effective in supporting multiple processes involved in the operations, its complexities is translated to the specific operational strategies that it has in place. A matrix structure complicates the allocation of roles to specific employees and development of a uniform culture (Keast & Hampson 2007). These are issues that affect the considerations that Apple Inc. should have in mind when developing their operational strategies. The planning department has access to models and other tools that can be used to develop conceptual and system level designs thus bettering understanding of the processes involved and the entities that have to be considered in strategic planning. Modelling which is made possible by a planning department that is appreciative of the power of modelling betters organisational strategy formulation efforts.
Apple Inc. is renowned for its extensive innovation strategies and a large illustrious product line. Innovation is a critical factor in business operations and is affected by a host of internal and external factors. Business trends reveal a general shift towards appreciation of open innovation which is characterised by use of collaborative efforts and increased appreciation of the capabilities that businesses can develop through sharing information. Innovation is an avenue that international business can use in improving their competitive and collaborative advantage. Furthermore, innovation is largely dependent on how well an organisation can develop its knowledge management systems and use the available information and knowledge to maximise its internal capabilities. The structures that businesses have implemented and a host of internal issues affect the levels of efficiency that businesses can attain in carrying out innovation. Research and development in Apple Inc. are collaborative and are largely dependent on information sharing between the different Apple stores. Innovation within Apple Inc. seeks to develop competitive advantage through improving the companyââ‚¬â„¢s core competencies. Since Apple Inc. has different customer segments to consider, varied employeesââ‚¬â„¢ expectations and a large information source to base its innovative activities on, proper coordination of innovation processes is a critical success factor.
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The planning department plays an important role in providing the infrastructure required to gain access to information and knowledge as well as share knowledge. Knowledge sharing is a critical aspect in innovation that is not possible in cases where an international firm has not directed its resources to developing extensive knowledge sharing system. It is upon the planning department to come up with a clear definitive budget of requirements that an international firm should address to meet knowledge sharing and management requirements. The planning department is also tasked with ensuring that businesses continually improve their knowledge management and sharing systems. It is noteworthy that with increase in innovation activities and change in competitive advantage the capacity of the information and knowledge sharing systems that the international firm has may be exhausted. Changes in the capabilities of such system wide facilities that are vital for innovation and general operations of the international firm have to be monitored and corrective measured implemented before the systems collapse under the weight of the multiple requirements.
Designing and implementing internal systems that allow for management of information and support of processes that are involved in open innovation is another important dimension of the role played by the planning department. It is noteworthy that innovation within firms requires the implementation of support system such as open communication technologies, shared information technology systems, networking and the use of diverse managerial systems. In most cases, the support systems are organisation wide and the planning department has to ensure that every division is linked which results in its inclusion in ensuring that the systems are developed such that they can handle the required capacity (Kohli & Melville 2009). Determination of knowledge that may be relevant and developing links to the information or instance through liaising with research centres, online databases and international laboratories is a responsibility that the planning department the international firm is tasked with. This ensures access to varied information resources and promotes a culture of gain of information which goes a long way in providing adequate support for innovation within Apple Inc.
Strengthening internal capabilities such as the information system, customer relationship management, monitoring customer satisfaction and employee job satisfaction are other issues that the planning department address within Apple Inc. (Kohli & Melville 2009). Strengthening internal systems involves extensive research on various parameters that are deterministic of the levels of motivation and capabilities displayed by employees (Glass 1996). The planning department engages the human resource department on aspects that are lacking with respect to improving workforce capabilities and allocation of responsibilities. The planning department liaises with the procurement department to ensure the acquisition of inputs that are of high levels of quality and the same department can present reports on evaluation of innovation within the organisation. It is noteworthy that the products in different Apple stores are imported from the main production base in New Jersey and are not developed or assembled locally. The central role played by the planning department in monitoring performance of different departments within the firm and ensuring that innovation activities are coordinated across divisions makes it a key department in strategic management for international firms.
Evaluation is an aspect of critical importance in strategic management for any operational organisation. It is important to note that the specific strategies that are adopted by businesses in efforts to improve their positioning in the market involve multiple considerations and clearly developed objectives. There are varied strategies that are developed to seek a specific objective. Evaluation plays a central role in determining the dimensions that the strategies adopted by a firm are lacking and helps to develop measures that can proof the strategies adopted by a firm from negative effects of the external environment. It is noteworthy that the global economy is defined by high levels of uncertainty and change (Mintzberg 1994a). This implies that the environment has to be continually monitored to ensure that the strategies that an organisation has adopted are relevant to the external environment. Furthermore, a review of changes in the external environment helps organisations better their understanding of the external environment and develop internal strategies that are effective. However, Apple Inc. operates such that it is directly affected by national trends as well as global trends. This complicates evaluation which is noted by strategists as a critical step in improving the levels of motivation displayed by different stakeholder. Improved gains reflected through evaluation may affect the levels of motivation displayed by employees.
Evaluation involves collecting data on the internal environment, external environment and the actual performance of the organisation as a result of the implementation of clearly defined strategies. Actual performance is often compared to the expected performance as reflected by set benchmarks or milestones and any deviation explained by changes in the internal environment, external environment or the nature of the strategies that have been adopted. Evaluation also ensures that the risk of culture clash and resistances which are threats in implementation of strategies are adequately addressed (Mintzberg 1994b). It is noteworthy that ensuring that the employees and other stakeholders are satisfied with the strategies that have been adopted by an organisation plays an important role in ensuring that the strategies are actually implemented and is a key step in change management. Resistance by employees is noted by a large number of organisational behaviour specialists as being a key factor in failure of strategies (Siew, Soh & Weil 2010). The planning department plays a central role in collecting data on employee perception across the division that an international firm operates in. This helps in determining how the strategies are viewed by employees and highlight aspects that managers and leaders within the company ought to address as part of efforts aimed at mitigating risks and threats that the strategies may be facing. Evidently, the planning department plays a central role in improving the evaluation strategies and measures that an organization has implemented which improves strategic management and helps firms attain their goals.
Developing estimators and models that can be used in estimation and prediction is another important role played by the planning department that highlights its importance to strategic management within Apple Inc. Access to historical data on performance of various market indicators and internal organisational predictors may help the planning department determine future trends under the assumptions that some variables are constant (Siew, Soh & Weil 2010). It is noteworthy that though such predictions may not necessarily turn out to be true they are important when the firms seek funding from financial service providers and in cases where stakeholders have limited understanding of organisational performing. The various Apple five year plans are developed with the use of estimators and models. Predicting future trends in the market helps Apple Inc. evaluate its current positions and determine the internal capabilities that it needs to develop to deal with threats or harness opportunities that have been predicted in the future.
Strategic management or any other organisation wide endeavour becomes more complex with the size and type of firm. International businesses have complex business models and differing strategy preferences which further complicate strategic management. Apple Inc. employs a matrix organisational structure and bases its strategies on diversification of its product line. The priorities of a store in the US may differ from that of a store in Europe though both have to be considered in coming up with strategies that affect the Apple Inc. Though there are cases where the strategies are develop at store level, it is common for Apple Inc. to develop strategies that affects its global operations. The involvement of representatives of different divisions in strategic management is only possible with proper coordination. Resource allocation is a critical aspect in the implementation of strategies that have been formulated in strategic planning. There are various mathematical approaches for optimisation of resources that can be used by the planning department to ensure optimisation of resources in implementing a project. Furthermore, in cases where an organisation has an ERP system, the planning department has access to information from all other departments and is therefore centrally located to analyse various aspects of a strategy and come up with recommendations on areas that may need to be improved (Kohli & Melville 2009).
Organisational leaders in strategic management are often tasked with ensuring that any issue that affect employees in the implementation of strategies are adequately addressed. Due to the complex business models that Apple Inc. has, executives rarely interact with employees in far away stores. However, the planning department through extensive data collections and use of modern communication can facilitate relay of information on issues that employees in different Apple Stores face in implementation of strategies. In so doing, the planning department ensures that the executive managers play their leadership role by addressing challenges that employees are facing irrespective of their location.
A critical success factor in strategic management is that the needs of an organisation have to be captured and the expectations of different stakeholders incorporated in the strategies. Though the vision is often used as a platform for strategic management so as to address varied expectations of the stakeholders, understanding the specific issues that employees and other stakeholders raise is important. The planning department can liaise with other subsidiary data collection centres in the division to collect data on the expectations of employees. Such data can be used by the organisation to develop strategies that are relevant to the expectations of the employee thus minimising the risk of resistance. Furthermore, tools like Pareto analysis, cause-effect analysis and brainstorming can effectively be incorporated in strategic management if the planning department is included in handling the technicalities involved in data collection and analysis.
International firms like Apple Inc. operate with the aim of generating value in a highly complex operational environment. Apple Inc. is required to implement extensive strategies to deal with the uncertainty associated with global financial conditions and develop competitive advantage. Strategic management remains one of the key avenues that international firms can extensively use to improve their positioning in the industry and market (GarcÃÂa-Morales, Ruiz-Moreno & Llorens-Montes 2007). However, the complex business model that is definitive of Apple Inc., its size and the geographical distribution of Apple Stores all play vital roles in improving their operations. The planning department in the Apple Inc. helps mainly in strategic planning and in supporting innovation. Furthermore, the planning department may help Apple Inc. improve coordination and evaluation that contribute to developing a strong basis for strategic management. In a nutshell, the planning department in Apple Inc. is centrally positioned to address a number of vital issues in strategic management that makes it a critical department for innovation.