Financial: The financial issue is next in line of importance; as the goal of a business is to earn profit, a company’s finances must take precedence over all (provided the business is being conducted in an ethical fashion). In this scenario, financial issues involve the potential lost revenue that will occur from a delayed product launch in Malaysia; this would result in lost profit for the company, which is meant to be avoided at all costs.
Operational: Harvesting the value from business assets is next in line of importance; in this scenario, operational issues are derived from the inability to gain value from the workers who are not trained and the resources that are not available to them.Strategic: Last but not least, strategic issues are vastly important, as they are the way to conduct our business operations in the most efficient manner. Strategic issues in this scenario include the lost shipment, which will jeopardize the sales revenue projections that the company is expecting from this corporate rollout.
- As the director of overseas operations, I have several possible solutions I could use to resolve the situation. One important aspect common to strategic planning is that it must be purposeful – “the objective is indeed to think and manage strategically, not to blindly engage in strategic planning for the sake of strategic planning” (Nickols 2008, p. 6).The first thing that comes to mind, given the situation, is to immediately fast-track new products and training materials to the Malaysia factory in time for us to get there and roll out the product in time. The risks involved include the added cost of production and shipping of new sample products and training materials, which would cut into our profits. However, this would also dramatically reduce the downtime the Malaysia factory has. It would also render the first shipment redundant if it were found.
Another option would be, potentially, to skip the Malaysia factory temporarily and move to the next location to quickly train them on the new product, getting them started earlier. My team would then return to the Malaysia location once they got their materials, in order to get them up to speed. This would still result in the 30 day delay in product launch for Malaysia, but it would also allow other locations to roll out earlier - this would maximize efficiency and perhaps make up for potential lost profits in a delayed Malaysia launch. All this would require is a changing of our rollout schedule and my team’s itinerary. While neither of these are the ideal scenario, the only viable solutions are to put Malaysia’s training further back in the schedule or spend the money to get extra materials shipped out to them immediately.
- Given the options that we have, I believe our best course of action would be to send the extra training materials and sample products to Malaysia quickly. It is my belief that the extra cost of the materials would have to be spent anyway; it is better to assume that than to hope that the shipment shows up eventually, which it may not. To that end, Malaysia would have to receive these new materials anyway, so it might as well get done now. Furthermore, this would require much less rearranging and rescheduling of training sessions, team itinerary and travel plans, and the overall rollout schedule (which is presumably timed for market demand and based on lead-up promotion). While it still may take several days to get to the Malaysia location, that is better than a potential 30-day delay in the product launch, which would lower profits and consumer confidence. By shipping spare materials to Malaysia, the training can get underway as soon as possible, the team will not have to change their schedule, and there will be much less catching up with the rest of the operational strategy.
In order to implement this strategy, I would contact my immediate superior (the VP of global operations) and make him apprised of this situation and my potential solution. If they approve, I will proceed with placing an order for new sample products and training materials, informing the in-house manager of the Malaysia location what our strategy will be. I would also contact the training team I am sending there to let them know everything will proceed as planned. If it will still delay product launch or training of other locations for a few days, I will let the in-house managers of the team’s future locations know to expect a slight delay.
- Environmental influences, both external and internal, have to be considered when evaluating what to do next in this situation. There are two different types of strategies that are applicable on a business level: proactive and reactive (Bratton 2003, p. 45). Proactive strategies include taking actions that are initiated by the company and its strategic decision makers; initiatives are taken and implemented given evidence that it might pay off. Reactive strategies, on the other hand, happen as a consequence of an outside force or influence; for example, rival companies put out a product that the subject company wants to emulate (Bratton 2003, p. 45).
In the event that the sample product and training materials are not available in time, I wish to make up for the loss in sales and revenue by conducting my plan as is (a reactive strategy). As a manager, I prefer to operate under a worst-case scenario basis, not leaving anything to chance. Given that the materials are not located, and given the short deadline required to make the launch, everything possible must be done to make up for lost time. This could happen through increasing output in other locations and shipping them to where the demand is; this would involve more resources coming from fewer places, and thus slowing down the rollout, but it may end up being more efficient in the long run. For example, if Malaysia simply cannot get their training materials in time, locations that are already running could increase their output to ship those products to Malaysia until such time as they could get their operation running.
- I believe it will be incredibly important to learn from this situation in the event of future occasions; to that end, there are several things I would do to make sure other in-country managers know how to respond. First, I would communicate with the Malaysian in-house manager to determine all the information possible from his end about what he did, when he found out the situation would arise, and the strengths/limitations of his agency during the time of the crisis. Then, I would formulate a strategy to create as many early-warning opportunities as possible to warn upper management and myself about potential problems. I would make it mandatory to be in regular contact with in-house management to make sure they have what they need, so that missed shipments and delays can be taken care of posthaste. A system of regular, short conference calls would be a decent start.
Once this system is established, I would send out materials to these in-house managers providing step by step instructions for how to handle in-house operations and coordinate with overseas operations (and me), so that everyone understands what they are supposed to do if a similar situation arises.
During this process, I would of course wish to consult with the in-house managers to get their input, as they know their operations best and would know how to efficiently facilitate this change management. Any reason they have to justify or vilify a change initiative has to come with concrete justification. This demands vigilance and diligence on the part of the senior staff, who are my eyes and ears where the company is concerned. I would wish to remain open to change, while at the same time keeping a close eye on real, serious problems that could occur.
Bratton, J (2003). Strategic Human Resource Management. Palgrave Macmillan.
Liedtka, J.M. (1998),.Linking Strategic Thinking with Strategic Planning. Strategy and Leadership 26(4): 30-35.
Nickols, F (2011). Strategy, Strategic Management, Strategic Planning and Strategic Thinking. Distance Consulting LLC.