Operations management is a very important element in every organisation. Additionally, having good operations management is crucial for the future sustainability of not only Apple, but of all the companies and organisations that strive towards succeeding their goals. Specifically, good operations management can ensure the reliability of the goods and services offered as well as their efficient delivery. They can also promise that the organisation will remain true to its values and guarantee that any issues the company faces can be solved or at least minimized.
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Apple is a multinational corporation which focuses on producing and selling technology related products such as smartphones and computers. Nowadays, Apple is one of the largest companies in the world and as of April 2012 it was named as the number one most powerful brand on the Forbes list. The company was founded in 1976 and it currently employs 60,400 employees. Apple’s business activities include designing, developing, producing and selling software, hardware and electronics. Furthermore, its mission is to provide innovative products and the best experience with their software and hardware to the customers. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple, had the vision that the man can change the world and should be above all the technological creations. As a result, Apple’s mission is to make it possible for consumers from all over the world to master the Apple products they purchase and to engage them with the best computing experience.
Value of the Organisation
The value that Apple provides to its main customers is a better experience. People reach Apple for their purchases instead of any other company, because it promises that every year their experience with their products will become better. To add up, Apple’s main customers expect annual improvements and further advancements, as well as new creations and innovative ideas and so, it is something they look forward to and intrigue them to continue buying their products.
The Input-Transformation-Output Model
Transformed ResourcesThe input-transformation-output model is used by the operations to transform inputs into outputs. More specifically, the operations use the inputs to transform something or even themselves into outputs which can be goods, services or both , which in one word are called ”products”. For Apple, the inputs are separated in transformed resources which are the raw materials, the technology and the information, and in transforming resources which are the equipment, the capital and the labour. Then, the key transformation activities are the design and the development. Finally, the outputs that are produced are the software and the hardware.
Figure . The Input-Transformation-Output Model
Winner and the Qualifying Factors
The order winner factors of Apple are three; its brand name, its innovations and its product design. To start with, the first order winner factor for the company is its brand name which means that people buy its products just because of the image that Apple has created. For example, having an iPhone is a trend and so people buy it because they want to fit in and impress others. Another order winner factor of Apple is its continuous innovations and creations. Anything new and unique tempts people into purchasing it and this is an area that Apple has been very successful in. The last factor is its product design, in other words, its appearance. Apple has significantly managed to win the competition, over other companies that sell similar products, in this are too.
Apple’s qualifying factors is its reliability that the products will work as promised and their quality. People expect that their purchases from Apple will work and that there will not be any problematic situations. As a result, the expectation of high quality is the second qualifying factor.
Using a Polar Representation we can easily see how Apple is prioritising its main performance objectives. Firstly, quality is the most important objective for Apple as people relay on the company and it is one of the main reasons they select their products and not similar ones from other companies. Secondly, flexibility is an objective as crucial to Apple as the previous one. As discussed previously, Apple always tries to design and develop new and innovative products as well as offer a wide range of products and these are aspects of flexibility. Thirdly, dependability is one more objective of great importance. The company has to make sure that its customers can depend on them; they have to have good timing and also provide good products and services that people can depend on. In addition, if there is lack of dependability, it is most likely that customers will not return to the company again for their future purchases as they cannot trust and depend on them. The fourth main objective in order of priority is speed. More specifically, Apple does not have many alternatives when it comes to providing with what people ask for on time, otherwise the customers will have something to complain about and this will create a negative image for the company. The last performance objective for Apple is the cost. In particular, Apple’s ability of product differentiation, enables her to have control over the prices. Further, the fact that the company has exceptional margins, allows Apple to keep the quality levels high. As a result of the satisfactory products the company offers, the customers rarely complain about the prices.
Figure . Polar Representation
The Main Issues Facing Operations Managers in Apple
One of the main issues that Apple’s operations managers are concerned with, is delivering quality. People nowadays have become more aware of the quality of the products that are offered in the market and are very selective about their choices. So Apple needs to deliver the best possible quality so as to win the competition and the trust of its customers.
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Customers demanding increasing flexibility, choice and responsiveness
Moreover, an issue that the operations managers of Apple face is the pressure of the customers demanding increasing flexibility, choice and responsiveness. People expect from Apple a wide range of new products constantly because of its corporate image that has been framed around this ability; to provide people with a plethora of innovative goods and services. Apple’s main customers want to have the option of choice for the products they purchase and demand having the promised expectancy of the best possible experience with them.
Another issue that the operations managers of Apple face is reducing cost. This is a complex situation as lowering the cost of production means that the quality might be reduced too and this is not an option for a company in today’s highly competitive society. As a result, operations managers try to find alternative ways of producing their products and consequently offer them in a lower cost. One alternative that is being examined is increasing the speed of the products’ development and making them more dependable. That is because, firstly, by saving time they can save money and, secondly, by being dependable they can be more efficient which again leads to cutting costs.
Social and ethical concerns of customers
Lastly, in terms of social and ethical concerns of customers, an issue concerning Apple’s operations managers is child labour. One of the main objectives for Apple is to reduce cost and producing its software in countries like China where wages are low, can make this possible. However, the operations managers of Apple have to be careful so as not to work with companies that exploit child labour. In many countries, companies recruit children to work to work in atrocious conditions with very low wages and intensive working schedules. This is not only an ethical issue, but also the quality standards might fall as, in most cases, there is no specialization.
In conclusion, good operations management stimulate financial sustainability and the competitive advantage for Apple. In order to succeed in their goals, the operations managers have to acknowledge their customers’ needs and inquires, so as to be able to prioritise their main performance objectives correctly and identify the order winner factors that will make them stand out from all the other companies, as well as the qualifying factors so that the customers will always consider purchasing their products. Further, in order for the operations managers to be good at their jobs, they also have to ensure that everything is done right, so it is important to measure their employees’ performance and assure that everything is working according to Apple’s values, promises and strategy. Lastly, good operations management is crucial for every organisation, including Apple as it contributes to its success and that is why it should always be present.
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