Operations Management starts where most firms and organisations start – with the customer. Firms get and keep customers by developing capabilities which are termed ‘order winners’ (OWs) – these are the things that make a customer choose one firm, organisation, or product over another. There are five core OWs – quality, cost, flexibility, speed, and dependability – but within each there are more specific OWs on which firms compete. For instance, quality order winners include aesthetics, reliability, and serviceability. All in all we identify 32 basic ways of competing – which can be bundled together into a multitude of different strategies, or focused on in order to out-perform the competition. Think about how students choose a university – it was either because it had features that others did not have, or because it appeared to be better at some things than other universities, or a combination of both.
We then go on (in Part B) to review the way that firms organise themselves to deliver their order winners – through their operational design, facilities, supply chain, inventory, capacity, customer handling, and quality standards. We follow this by considering (in Part C) how processes are created, new products and services are developed, how work is designed and employees managed, and how projects are planned and directed. Finally, we consider (in Part D) how many organisations integrate these different aspects of operations into a strategy, which is designed to give them competitive advantage within their industry sector.