Furniture Too Needs Operations Management

Based on the first four chapters which we have covered in class, I can relate and I have a better understanding of the way operations management is done at my job.  I work as an interior designer for a global furniture company who produces their furniture in Europe and sells them worldwide. The showroom I work for is located in Bahrain. Our company differentiates itself from our competitors by giving our customers the choice of customization. Our furniture pieces can be customized based on fabric, wood or leather finishes, size adjustments, and color selections. Every piece of furniture can be altered to be unique for the individual customer. Customization comes at the price of waiting three to four months for the delivery of the furniture.

Operations management is the task of our showroom manager. After learning about the Ten Major Operations Management Decisions which are required of operations managers, I have noticed how my manager makes his decisions based on those aspects on a daily basis.

Our company achieves its competitive advantage through operations with the use of differentiation. Our customers highly appreciate our customizing feature that we provide over our competitors, and thus are willing to wait for their unique furniture. In terms of Issues in Operations Strategy, I have noticed how my manager makes use of Porter’s five-forces model.   The potential competing forces being: 1) immediate rivals, 2) potential entrants, 3) customers, 4) suppliers, and 5) substitute products, are covered on a regular basis at our employee meetings. My manager does not physically write out or draw the model, but goes through it verbally to see where we stand in relation to our competitors, customers, and our suppliers.

Project Controlling is a very important task in the interior design and furniture industry. Our process begins by meeting with our customers and brainstorming ideas for their spaces based on their preferences and tastes. The next step is planning and drawing with furniture proposals that we would recommend to the customer. Once the customer chooses the final selections, we proceed with ordering the furniture from our different suppliers. Once the furniture arrives we can then deliver it to the customer. Each project has a different completion time depending on the capacity of the project. Clearly the projects of one or two bedrooms finish quicker than a project of furnishing an entire house. Currently we are facing an issue with tracking our orders; therefore, my manager has asked our IT department to provide us with software that will allow for tracking of orders, which I believe will strongly benefit our control over our projects.

Since I deal with interior design and furniture, do you think operations management differs greatly between different industries or is there a basic standard for all industries?

 

10 thoughts on “Furniture Too Needs Operations Management

  1. Well written Dana!

    There are minor differences I believe, however, a good operations manager can handle any industry. At least that’s what I think. I handle software development operations and projects, and I can relate to almost everything we studied yet.

    Orders tracking is mandatory and it must be stored on a system, for ease of use and statistics.

    1. Thank you Ali. I certainly agree that order tracking is critical, and I must admit that I am very much looking forward to the new system that will be installed for us at work.
      I too believe that operations management has it’s own basics, but as industries differ I’m sure there are slight variations in the way operations are run.

  2. Furniture is a really fascinating and complex field to be in. You essentially turn ideas into physical goods using a spectrum of materials. Your company choose to be unique in a tough market by offering the customization option. Most companies would avoid customization purely because it either eats from profits or because it is hard to manage from an operations perspective. Mass production companies provide their clients with a box of options to choose from. That box will include the most likely colors, shapes and fabrics to sell. Obviously, your company does a superior job in customizing furniture and I would argue that you meet the requirements of your clients because of the strong chain of suppliers you deal with and that you plan ahead for plan ‘B’ and even ‘C’ if you expect a certain fabric color or type of wood might not be procured.

    1. Thank you Mahmood. Yes it is an interesting field to be working in. In terms of costumizing, we do deal with a lot of suppliers who are trusted by our brand for making products that meet our standards. As for finish options, we always get updated information from our headquarters if any finishes or furniture pieces are discontinued. Therefore we do our best at always satisfying our customers.

  3. Dana, I believe your company has a strong advantage in offering furniture customization as a differentiating factor. Few furniture manufacturers offer that and I think many people in the middle eastern market would be interested in interior decoration options that are specifically designed to their particular tastes and needs. As your company establishes an identity for itself for providing high-quality furniture with cooperative customer service, the potential of new or existing competitors stealing your market will be reduced.

    The one opportunity area I spotted in your line of work is the time taken for delivery. Maybe some operations management tools and techniques could be used to increase time efficiency. The order-tracking software that your manager has already ordered is definitely a start. Maybe Gantt charts or the Critical Path Method (CPM) can be used for scheduling the different activities within a furniture order to reduce the time lapse between steps. CPM not only allows managers to determine the activities within a project that can be performed simultaneously to shorten furniture delivery time, but also lets them identify the areas where more than the required time is being taken (for instance, if a particular supplier is regularly delaying the delivery of components beyond the scheduled deadline.)

    1. Thank you Luqman. I certainly agree with you regarding the use of Gantt charts or the Critical Path Method (CPM). I am quite anxious to see what our new tracking system will be like once it is installed. As for the length of time for receiving our furniture, it’s due to the fact that once the item reaches the shipping dock in Europe, it sits in a container until the container is full, and only then is it shipped to Bahrain. This is part of our company policy to reduce costs and be environmentally friendly by only shipping a full container.

  4. Thank you for the interesting blog Dana, I defiantly see that operation management is almost the same in any organization the things that will make operation manger differ from one to another is how they are organize and they can walk their talk ,the operation manger must know their job well, and how they can control and guide their team in the daily work to make their job ease and make them feel confidence , and he must be prepare for the step after next .

    1. Thank you Nina. Yes, I do agree that the operations management will depend on the manager’s way of doing things, and the field in which they work in.

  5. Great post Dana, it’s really interesting how you related what he have learned in class with what happens in your origination. For me I think that operation management would differ from one industry to another and is not basic standards that you apply where ever you go!!

    1. Thank you Khaled. I agree with you, operations management is in every industry but the operating system itself differs between one industry and another.

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