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Australian Hardware is a business enterprise which deals with a wide range of equipment and tools for construction as well as household and garden products. The company also provides finishing products such as paints, tiles and substantially all materials that may be required. Currently, the store has around 138 stores across the country with a total workforce of over 10,000 staff members. As a supplier, the focal focus of the hardware is on the customers. The more clients and retention of clients, the more the enterprise will grow. Currently, Australian Hardware is well known and has an excellent performance on the stock exchange. Continuous improvement can, however, help it achieve more and become even more successful.
Continuous improvement refers to the process of opportunity recognition, streamlining of work as well as the reduction of waste (Singh, Jagdeep, and Harwinder 75). This improvement applies to all the organizational departments for overall growth and development. Currently, the customer policy in Australian Hardware is well defined. The company strives to accomplish positive first impression by ensuring that all customers are acknowledged within five seconds of entering the store, showing them warmth by smiling and patiently attending to all their needs while giving them full attention. The stores also encourage the consumers to participate in an online survey where they rate the service and advice on areas they found lacking. More importantly, complaints are handled promptly.
Amongst the areas which are lacking in reference to customer focus is the implementation of an online system where the customers can order their products, pay, and have them delivered to their specific required areas. The development of the system would be very monumental since the clients would not have to avail themselves to pick up the goods physically. The hardware would also experience more sales from people in diverse locations, increasing its profits considerably.
Among the questions which I would ask at the workshop includes;
1. Do you agree that conducting business online is currently the most preferred method for customers?
2. How can we embark on creating an online interface which is very simple to use yet highly efficient?
3. What do we need to develop the systems
4. What is the estimated cost of developing the systems?
5. Who will be responsible for running the systems?
There are various examples of CI services. These are;
1. Improving efficiency. Efficiency is not limited to a specific area or department but is an overall company initiative (Vom Brocke et al., 531). The first way through which efficiency can be achieved is through the simplification of every function and process in the company. Some of the procedures may look very minor but may contribute to a lot of time wastage, ultimately results in inefficiency. For instance, when a company chooses to conduct banking manually other than online, the accountant or member of staff sent uses a lot of time that would have been spent working on more productive areas.
2. Limiting interruptions. In a sector such as hardware, there are a lot of things that require being done. In some instances, the management may find themselves continually interrupting staff to perform other tasks outside of their job description. For example, in the case, many clients come, and all the attendants are engaged, it would be tempting to call other staff members to assist. While it might be a good strategy at the time, the interruptions disorient the staff and make them inefficient in their areas (Vom Brocke et al., 531). Such interruptions can be prevented by ensuring that enough staff is employed where need be. Also, some of the personnel such as loaders can be trained on additional services and may come in handy where there are many clients.
3. Where applicable, paying staff on milestones. In hardware, there are both permanent and contractual employees. To increase efficiency, some of the staff should be paid based on piece work. For instance, the offloaders of materials such as cement, wood, construction stones would be more motivated if they knew the more they offload, the more the income. Paying them a fixed amount irrespective of the work they do can make them lazy and inefficient.
4. Encouraging the employees to be vocal about their concerns. Staff members are more likely to perform in an environment where they feel respected and their needs considered (Keeling et al., 89). Creating an environment where the employees can openly talk about the issues is a good strategy in ensuring performance improvement since the company will address the concerns, creating a more friendly environment.
5. Waste management. Waste refers to something not of value or a process which does not add value (Aziz et al., 679). Continuous improvement process can address the waste reduction in terms of the prevention and elimination of defects. There are many ways through which defects may occur, the common one being as a result of carelessness. When hardware materials such as glass and even fragile wood are not handled correctly, they are more likely to fall and get defects which make them lose value.
Stocking the wrong items is also wastage in the sense that, the materials just fill up the hardware and don’t get bought resulting in cash being held. One of the ways through which it can be prevented is through conducting extensive research and survey and finding out which items are in demand and stocking them. Further, some items can be bought, and arrangements made with the manufacturer that if they are not bought, they are returned.
Time wastage is also a critical factor which should be monitored and reduced as much as possible. Motion is perhaps the most prevalent method through which time is wasted, characterized by the valueless movement of staff from time to time (Aziz et al., 679). This wastage can be reduced through the proper description of jobs and ensuring that all people are appropriately monitored to ensure they give the best.
The monitoring of the effectiveness of the strategies can be done through financial analysis to check whether the sales and profits increase. The tools which can be used in the determination are the sales books as well as financial documents such as a statement of financial position, statement of income and reconciliation books. Financial ratios can also be used to give relevant information about the position of the company. Profit ratios, current, liquidity and efficiency ratios (Delen et al., 3970).
Employee turnover rates can also be gauged to illustrate the level of staff satisfaction in the company. Employees stay in a place where they are comfortable and content. Consequently, most of them quit and leave places where they are not comfortable. The company can, therefore, evaluate the turnover ratios and find the reasons as to why some employees choose to leave. Once the reasons have been found, suitable measures can be undertaken to reduce and eliminate the tendencies.
Employees are the life of the business. Monitoring their actions is imperative since it enables the stakeholders to know what exactly is happening in the company. Some of the ways through which the performance can be gauged is through;
The Analysis of the level of punctuality. The staff at the hardware are supposed to come to work and leave at particular times. Punctual staff members are more likely to be more organized and fulfill their work objectives more efficiently than those who come in late. Also, punctual staff are considered more reliable and are likely to propel the business towards prosperity.
Employee attitude. The employees can either have positive or negative attitudes towards their positions, colleagues and overall business enterprise. The employees with positive attitudes are more likely to perform compared to those with negative attitudes. Therefore, the latter should be thoroughly scrutinized to ensure that they are performing as required and if not, reprimanded.
Surveying the clients. Hardware majorly involves the personal interaction with the clients, more than back-office activities. Therefore, to gauge which employees are performing as desired, the clients can be requested to fill a survey rating the quality of personal assistance that was accorded to them as well as launch any complaints that they may have. Through the analysis of the responses, the hardware can be able to tell which staff members are working well and those who are not. The hardware has already laid down a clear strategy of how they want the staff to handle the clients and therefore the responses enable them to know if indeed the stipulations are followed by individual staff members
Aziz, Remon Fayek, and Sherif Mohamed Hafez. "Applying lean thinking in construction and performance improvement." Alexandria Engineering Journal 52.4 (2013): 679-695.
Delen, Dursun, Cemil Kuzey, and Ali Uyar. "Measuring firm performance using financial ratios: A decision tree approach." Expert Systems with Applications 40.10 (2013): 3970-3983.
Keeling, Kathleen A., Peter J. McGoldrick, and Henna Sadhu. "Staff Word-of-Mouth (SWOM) and retail employee recruitment." Journal of Retailing 89.1 (2013): 88-104.
Singh, Jagdeep, and Harwinder Singh. "Continuous improvement philosophy–literature review and directions." Benchmarking: An International Journal 22.1 (2015): 75-119.
Vom Brocke, Jan, et al. "Ten principles of good business process management." Business process management journal 20.4 (2014): 530-548.
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