My MBA Journey

Record of my personal journey completing an MBA

Operations Week 3 – Designing processes and operations for service and other sectors

Process Map


With the first two weeks out of the way, we are now moving on to the meatier bits of the subject. The first two weeks also provided the content for the first assignment which I have already started. This module focuses on understanding individual processes in operations. It also looks at how to map processes to understand them better and redesign them if needed. Mapping and redesign are key concepts in this module [1].

Does the operation understand how it positions its process resources?

In the first instance with process design, the organisation must analyse the resources used in the process and how they are arranged. Without adequate resources, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to deliver the process. Such a concept can be considered in line with the first two of the Four Vs, volume and variety.

Process design – positioning

Initially, with process design, the first task is to step back and determine which process is the right one for a particular operation. The Operations Manager needs to consider this in light of the organisation’s strategic objectives.

Often, processes will become outdated as a market moves on. It is important the organisation keeps abreast of these changes and modifies its processes accordingly. Processes can imply different volume/variety structures.

Manufacturing and Services process types

Manufacturing process types

Manufacturing process types include project processes, jobbing processes, batch processes, mass processes and continuous processes as shown in the above diagram. The market will determine the volume/variety ratio and this must be known before settling on a process design.

Services process types

Different groupings to manufacturing, but still based on volume/variety. Accountants for example in Professional Services would deliver a considerable variation of service at low volumes.

The five process performance objectives of quality, speed, reliability, flexibility and cost are closely linked to the volume-variety decision. As a result, they determine the objectives of process flow. The process flow includes the rate of flow, throughput time, WIP inventory and resource utilisation. The process objectives are the starting point for the design.

Process layout

The layout is critical to the success of a process. The location of various aspects of a process needs to be in proximity to one another to avoid unnecessary movement of customers, information or resources. For example, place the photocopier next to the person who does the greatest amount of copying, not at a point furthest away. These small details can be deal breakers.

There are four basic layout types, fixed position, functional, cell, and product.

It is important to determine the layout in the design process as it can be costly to change it once the process is in place. Additionally, more costs are incurred in the process if the layout is incorrect.

The term “servicescape” relates to the environment in which the process is performed. It generally refers to high visibility processes where customers experience the process. In such cases, the surround, look and feel of the environment can be essential to the success of the process.

Process technology

Process technology refers to the machines and equipment used to transform resources during a process. When it comes to technology, there is often a cost-benefit trade-off and this needs to be considered in the selection of machines and equipment to be used in the process. Volume/variety concepts also come into play with technology. There are three considerations, automation, scalability and coupling. Process technology is also important from the point of view of the considerable improvements over the last two decades which in turn has affected how processes can be performed.

Job design

Job design is about how people carry out jobs that are allocated to them within a process. The notes make the point that increases in technology are not always the answer to increasing production. It could be the case that a redesign of jobs, and happier and more committed employees will result in the same increases being sought. The text refers to three important concepts; safety, ethics and work/life balance.

Process design – analysis

Process design involves two stages. The first is positioning where the process is aligned with the organisation’s strategic objectives. The second is analysis. Process analysis is focused on the activities that occur within a process and the manner in which resources flow.

Process analysis is about improving the process based on the assumption that the right process is in place in the first instance.

Process performance objectives

The five strategic performance objectives are essential in process design and any individual tasks that occur within the process. Improving the goals of any operation is the prime objective of process design. Process design and analysis is simply the concept of reviewing operations and processes with a view to improving their performance.

Process Design and Analysis is only the beginning. There is then the implementation of the process and continual improvement per the image below.

Process design, development and continuous improvement.
Figure 6.1 from Textbook. Process design – analysis involves calculating the details of the process, in particular its objectives, sequence of activities, allocation of tasks and capacity, and its ability to incorporate the effects of variability [2].

Many processes have evolved without design or documentation. Such processes should be mapped to explore opportunities to improve them. The mapping will also provide documentation of the process. Process mapping is needed to expose the reality of process behaviour.

Assessment 1

This assessment is totally different to any others done so far. It involves preparing a Powerpoint presentation and recording it on Zoom. The task involves establishing an organisation’s structure around the Four Vs, (volume, variation, variety and visibility), its position on the Hayes Wheelwright matrix and the state of play with the four operations perspectives. I am quite comfortable with the style for the assessment, but the building of the graphics and matrices will be a challenge.


There has been a lot covered this week. I am finding there to be far more theory in this subject than in past ones. The challenge will be matching the relevant theory with my practical knowledge and experience to create a happy marriage between the two.

  1. Australian Institute of Business [AIB] 2022, ‘Module 3: Designing processes and operations for service and other sectors’, 8004OMGT Operations Management 2022 Term 3, Australian Institute of Business, Adelaide[]
  2. Slack, N & Brandon-Jones, A 2021, Operations and Process Management., Pearson Education Limited, S.L.[]

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Ric Raftis

Ric Raftis

Find out more about me on my About Me page.

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