Discussion Topic

An analysis and comparison of the four different process strategies, including examples and their characteristics

Summary:

The four process strategies are product focus, process focus, repetitive focus, and mass customization. Product focus involves high-volume, low-variety production, like bottling soda. Process focus features low-volume, high-variety production, such as a print shop. Repetitive focus is a hybrid, using assembly lines for diverse products, like motorcycles. Mass customization combines high volume with variety, exemplified by computer manufacturers like Apple.

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Describe each of the four different process strategies, give an example of each, and show how each example has the characteristics of the particular strategy.

Process strategies refer to the method by which a company creates its consumer goods. The four most commonly accepted strategies are defined by how they relate to levels of both volume and variety.

1) Product Focus

These goods are created using a low-variety, high-volume process. Factories and manufacturing plants are designed around the needs of the product in order to achieve the large volume required for a few limited SKUs over a long and continual run. Routine automation means less skilled labor is required. In addition, fixed costs are typically on the higher side, while product sameness keeps variable costs per unit lower. Beer or soda is a prime example. There is a limited quantity of beverage types created by the manufacturer, where each type can be bottled quickly and each bottle is identical to all others of the same type.

2) Process Focus

These goods are created using a low-volume, high-variety process—the inverse of product focus. Factories and plants are designed around the needs of the workers and their duties more than the product. Often, workers are required to have a specialized or high degree of skill and equipment is more tailored to a specific purpose. There may be a large number of product SKUs and, even within those SKUs, things like style and quality may vary. Costs can be high and planning becomes notoriously more challenging. A print shop is a good example, where each job will differ according to the needs of the client, type of printing required, and skill of the worker.

3) Repetitive Focus

This is essentially a hybrid of the product focus and process focus models. The production facilities may be characterized by assembly lines and automation that use previously made components, allowing for a higher output than process-focused businesses. But there may also be some level of customization involved and components may be assembled in different ways to generate numerous final product options, allowing for a lower output than product-focused businesses. Motorcycle manufacturers like Harley-Davidson are a key example because while components may be prefabricated and a large number of bikes may be assembled, there are many models and designs to suit an eclectic consumer base, with customized pre-orders available.

4) Mass Customization

This type of production is difficult to achieve, but if done properly, can reap big rewards. It combines the product variety of a process-focused business with the high-volume output achieved by a product-focused business, retaining all of the best attributes of each, including efficient and expeditious assembly, low fixed and variable costs, less skilled labor required and the potential for customization. Large manufacturers of home computers like Apple, Dell, and HP are prime examples because they offer a large variety of products that are created quickly using prefabricated parts (from keyboards to monitor screens to motherboards) for a diverse customer base in a sector (technology) that is constantly changing, and therefore demands flexibility.

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Describe each of the four different process strategies, give an example of each, and show how each example has the characteristics of the particular strategy.

The four different process strategies are product focus, process focus, repetitive focus and mass customization. In order to provide an example of each, I will discuss how each strategy would work in a factory setting.

Product focus is a typical production line scenario, in which products are bulk manufactured with little variation. If a factory production line was producing 100 000 units of a particular component in a day, this would be a example of product focus.

Process focus refers to a small number of extremely specialized processes. In our factory example, if a machine broke and had to be repaired by a specialist technician, this would be an example of process focus.

Repetitive focus involves producing large volumes of end product through repetitive processes. In a factory setting, this could involve an adhesive machine that sticks components together to make an end product.

Mass customization is about goods that are customized to meet the needs of one particular client. In the factory context, consider a factory that specialized in making screws. If a client required screws that were slightly longer or thicker than the screws ordinarily produced at this factory, and the factory was able to customize their processes to produce screws to the client's specifications, then these screws would be mass customized.

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Describe each of the four different process strategies, give an example of each, and show how each example has the characteristics of the particular strategy.

Process strategies are interventions that are made to make the best out of a business using currently-available resources rather than outsourcing and having to spend more. It also entails higher quality assurance and better management.

Process focus: There are businesses whose main operations depend on specific departments for it to flow without complication. For example, if you work in an office, the human resources, payroll, and supply are the strongest processes that occur because without human resources there would not be employees; without payroll there would not be employees either because they need to get paid on time. Also, without resources from the supply department the business would not be able to operate. Hence, after you realize what are the processes that help your business stay afloat, you want to focus on them and ensure that they run smoothly at all times. Therefore, the process focus entails that the business will place special attention on what are the practices and procedures that are most important to it. Another example of a process focus is a restaurant that needs for three processes to operate optimally: the kitchen, the bakery, and the bar.  Marketing, advertisement and other dimensions of a restaurant business fall short if the kitchen, the bakery and the bar are not good. In other words, the process speaks for itself.

Repetitive focus: When a business is based on mass production and consistent processes you need to focus on how the repetitive processes that take place in product production are operating. For example, when you run a food truck, a cafeteria, or a fast food place, there are a lot of consistent and repetitive processes that need to be optimal. Imagine operating a food truck without a system for folding bread, stuffing sandwiches, and serving trays? It would mean super long lines, and lack of organization in the serving of food. In such cases, the focus should be on how to form patterns of repetition that will ensure that the same product is served the same way at all times. There will be no other way for the company to establish a name for itself and form a reputation for customer service.  This process strategy is also based on modules of operation, meaning on specific areas of focus that need to be supervised: Ex: putting the food together, serving the food, sending it out. These are the repetitions that we need to focus on in a business of this time.

The product focus is used when the product is at the center of attention in the company. Goods or services that are so essential and needed that they need to be nearly perfect. Therefore, what we want to accomplish in a product focus is lots of product (high volume), not a complex or extensive set of choices to pick from (low variety)and continuous production.

Mass customization is a focus that is placed on products that are needed for specific reasons , for specific periods of time, and for consistent changes. An example of this type of factories is those that manufacture seasonal objects that need to be produced differently from year to year to ensure consumption. Think Christmas trees, Halloween Costumes that need to reflect the current trends, and Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer merchandise that varies from store to store. Mass customization is fast production that changes consistently.

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Provide a comparison of the four types of process strategies.

Let's first define what is a process strategy. Like the name implies, a strategy is an arbitration selected to mediate between two variables. In this case, the aim is to find what arbitration is the most convenient for a business and the different dynamics (processes) that take place within the business. The idea is to keep all business in-house, as well as human resources, general resources, and profits.

The process strategies include:

Focus on the process as a whole first, by itself- Process focus is an analysis that determines what is truly important for the success of a company. The processes that take place from day to day, the resources needed to operate, the personnel needed to do the operations, and the budget requirements. This is a great way to map the company and see whether all the required success factors are working in tandem. This starts from the bottom up, that is, from the most seemingly minuscule detail, say, the working conditions, safety and security, hygiene of the place, to the most abstract such as work culture, vision, mission, and goals.

Focus on repetitive processes: This process strategy questions:  What is the rhythm of the company? How do things get done? What are the steps to the process to accomplish a goal. Most importantly, this strategy questions whether this is a formulaic process that can be repeated effectively over and over. Imagine working a fast food restaurant at lunch time. There are a myriad of repetitive processes that must occur for customers to be served and for the restaurant to get its profits. If there is not a clear process in place, nor a systematic way of doing things, chaos will ensure.

Product focus: What exactly is being offered to the market? Is it something marketable? Sought after? A clear and limited variety of options of high quality and good availability should be the focus of this intervention.

Notice how companies such as Apple, for example, are very particular about selling their products like special pieces. Their choices are actually quite limited when compared to the competitor brands. This is because they want to focus on the quality of the product and its potential to perform many tasks.

Their goal is not quantity and variety, but quality. You can even mention them from memory: iPhone, iPod (the versions do not matter, it is the same product except for the Nano), MacBook Pro, Mac Book Air, iPad, iPad Air, iPad Pro, Mac Mini.  That's it. The numbers are just more advanced editions of the same product. And yet, have they deviated from offering good products? No.

Specific, mass customization Products are needed at different times and for different things. Think about the many holidays throughout the year, and the different products that people like to get. Now, think about how a company can compete in a shifting market with a variety of demands? Understanding that this is a potential opening to be explored within the market means looking into the processes to make it happen.

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