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Periodically we must review our workload to assess for what some call “mission creep” which are non-value-added tasks that are nice to do because they were good ideas. Within the value chain of an organization’s mission, there are primary and support activities. Managers create value within both lines of effort but must be conscious of the level of value each added activity brings to the table. This added value can come from within and from customers and suppliers.
Michael Porter, author of Competitive Advantage, highlights five general areas for primary activities and four general areas within the support activities. The five areas of primary activities are in and out-bound logistics, operations, marketing/sales, and service. To strengthen the value of logistics, managers can source in-bound supplies from closer or more efficient reputable vendors. To strengthen the value of internal operations, plant managers can continuously evaluate process and footprint design for areas to improve or update with state-of-the-art technology. Marketing directors can continually improve their value through market research and crowdsourcing the needs of the customers. Furthermore, customer service supervisors must attend to critical feedback and close the loop on emergent issues in a timely. (Dess, Lumpkin, Eisner, McNamara, 2014).
When considering means for adding value to support activities, managers must understand all stakeholders who support the mission which fall into the general admin staff, human resources, tech department and procurement. In many cases, procurement processes are regulated; therefore, are ambiguous to begin with. Notwithstanding, managers must be cautious in further developing procurement processes to prevent further frustration in obtaining needed resources for the mission. A best practice in procurement is one that is a “win-win for both the organization, supplier,” and national/international commerce. In today’s environment, the tech. department is vital to the heartbeat of the mission. Cyber threats can bring an organization to a screeching halt in a matter of nanoseconds. Managers should ensure this support activity is well-qualified, resourced and is fully accustomed to the mission impact is has on the organization. Human resource managers and the general admin staff can significantly affect the morale of the whole organization and the managers should also fully understand that. Their worth is based on everything they affect on the employees at-large, and if their processes negatively impact any given employee, those processes need updated to strengthen their value to the mission. (Dess et al., 2014)
Any one weak area in either of the primary or support activities, the overall foundation is weak and can cause the organization to crumble. A prime example of this analogy is any of Gordon Ramsay’s Hotel Hell episodes. Effective operations demand a cohesive system of all involved. Any non-value-added or weak line of effort must be removed or strengthened.
Dess, G., Lumpkin, G.T., Eisner, A., McNamara G. (2014). Strategic Management: Text and Cases (7th Ed.). Hoboken, NJ: McGraw Hill Education
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