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Production planning

S:\triplea_resources\DP_topic_packs\business management\student_packs\media_ops_management\images\manufacturing_robot.jpgWe have stressed throughout this course that business and management is an integrated subject and this module is no exception! Throughout the module you should always be looking for links between the different areas of business activity.

Although the focus of the module is on production and managing the operations of the business related to production, the production department cannot work in isolation. They need to collaborate and communicate with other areas of the business. This collaboration should focus on the objectives of the business and what it is trying to achieve. If the firm wishes to boost market share, for example, then production will need to be higher. However, if the aim is to develop a competitive advantage and consolidate their market share, then the production department may need to focus on productivity, quality and cost minimisation. In this case they may need to look at developing a more substantial research and development programme.

So the production department will need to work closely with the other areas of the firm and look at issues like:

  • Is there enough capacity to cope with an increase in demand?
  • Are there sufficient production staff to cope with an increase in demand?
  • Is the workforce flexible enough to change if there is a fall in demand? Does the firm need to develop a workforce plan related to the production plan?
  • What is the marketing department aiming to achieve? Are there any current marketing drives that are likely to have production implications?
  • What is the financial situation of the firm? Is there pressure to reduce stocks and perhaps change production methods to just-in-time or another appropriate method?
  • What is the growth strategy of the firm? Is the aim for rapid growth in which case, is there a need to develop new production techniques or find new machinery? Is there likely to be a merger or takeover, that will require the production department to integrate their systems with another plant/factory?

All these and any other relevant factors can be incorporated into a production plan. This, for reasons we have seen, will also need to be part of a wider plan that incorporates marketing, finance and other business areas. Planning is not a lonely activity!