Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Intentional management 10: looking beyond simply managing personnel 6

Posted in HR and personnel, strategy and planning by Timothy Platt on July 16, 2014

This is my 10th installment in a series in which I discuss how management activity and responsibilities can be parsed and distributed through a business organization, so as to better meet operational and strategic goals and as a planned intentional process (see Business Strategy and Operations – 3, postings 472 and loosely following for Parts 1-9.)

I focused in Part 9 of this series on a general and even relatively abstractly stated model of how operational processes connect and work together, creating overall operational balance and business effectiveness. And I couched that discussion both in terms of the single business and its internally organizing business activities, and in terms of the larger context of supply chains and business-to-business collaborations where operational processes enable value creating collaboration.

I stated at the end of Part 9 that I would switch from the general and abstract to consider how this model plays out in some very real world functional operational examples, and that I would begin with Information Technology operations and practices. That makes sense as ultimately all operational practices are information driven and both for determining how they should be done, and for connecting their results into the overall business as it pursues strategically coordinated action. But this is a series about management, and not strictly speaking about what would be managed – about operational and more one-off and project-related processes. So my primary goal here is to build from the operational process model that I briefly outlined in Part 9, reframing it in management terms and from a management perspective. And as noted above, I begin this with Information Technology.

• I wrote of operational balance in Part 9 and about how very few if any operational processes take place in a vacuum. They function and they offer whatever value they do in context, and ultimately from how effectively they connect into and support the overall business they are carried out in.
• And effective management processes serve to define day-to-day operational goals and they track and guide their performance so as to keep them in balance and providing value.

Consider the specific system of information processes that track and maintain inventory materials acquisition, production, and distribution for a product manufacturer, with the information feedback loops needed to maintain the right levels of the right resources at every point in this system.

1. This means acquisition from outside sources, of the right numbers of units for every part or ingredient type that would go into a business’ finished products that would go out its doors and to market.
2. This means making sure that any in-house manufactured parts and subassemblies produced in one location within that business are received when and as needed and in the right numbers for next production steps where those next production steps would take place.
3. This means maintaining an effective inventory level of finished products so that incoming purchase orders can be satisfied in a timely manner, but without tying up unnecessary levels of liquidity from holding excess inventory.

All three of these points crucially enter into effective supply chain participation, with Point 1 above, essential when receiving material resources from supply chain partners, and Point 3 essential when providing goods to supply chain partners, as well of course when selling to any other reseller or end-user markets. Management for all three of these points is all about effective information development, and according to coding protocols that make sense for all involved parties. And it is all about communicating that inventory data, and both for meeting here-and-now, and anticipated emerging needs.

• And in a supply chain or other business-to-business collaborative context this means understanding partner businesses and their systems, and managing on both sides so that for example,
• When one partner business sends an order to another, they identify what they need from that other business in ways that can be readily and unambiguously converted into database queries by the order receiving inventory management staff.

And as a final thought here, one of the ongoing trends in business communities and both within and across industries is the development of what amounts to globally accepted and understood commonly held standards of communication for this. I am not referring here to the basic internet communications standards and protocols that everyone uses. For this, I am referring to data formatting standards, for consistently organizing and sharing specific industry and business-essential content. And in that regard, I cite the ongoing development and proliferation in use of specialized business and industry specific XML schemas. The goal there is to reduce any learning curve requirements to as close to zero as possible when new collaborative partner businesses seek to effective communication and work together, so they can capture even short term and rapidly emerging collaborative business opportunity, through quickly established business to business collaboration systems.

And with that point raised, I shift this overall discussion to the area that I will delve into in my next series installment: facing change and thriving in it. Meanwhile, you can find this and related postings at Business Strategy and Operations – 3 and also at Page 1 and Page 2 of that directory. Also see HR and Personnel and HR and Personnel – 2.

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