Business Process Management

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Process mapping is defined as “describing processes in terms of how the activities within the process relate to each other. ” (Slack et al, 2007, pg. 102). The group decided to map the process of stocking up shelves in a supermarket and opening a new bank account. The speed and efficiency of how these two processes occur can bring substantial value to customers and thereby give the company a competitive advantage. This potential success is recognised from analysing process maps, which is one significant advantage of implementing them in businesses.

Process mapping helps establish goals and the standard level operations should run at in a business. By employing this strategy, managers can gain a greater understanding of what the company is and what it stands for and forecast what is needed to become successful. This will allow greater productivity and output and lower costs. The process of stocking up shelves in a supermarket: The aims of the supermarket when they are planning to stock up the shelves are to ensure that they have enough of a product to meet customer demand.

This is possibly the most important factor in the process as they want the customer to have an enjoyable experience whilst shopping and to have faith in the supermarket that they will be able to enter and buy the exact product that they went in for. The supermarket must make sure however, that they do not order too much of a particular product so that it goes out of date before it can be sold and so is wasted causing the company unnecessary costs. They must order to the customer demand and not to what they believe will sell.

This will involve the company looking at the different buying habits of consumers and seeing exactly how many of a particular product is sold either daily, or weekly so they can order accordingly. This can be done quite simply by looking at the sales transactions on the till systems and product information systems. In order to meet these aims, the company needs objectives. To ensure that the process runs smoothly, there must be some computerised elements to stock taking and order taking.

As a supermarket can sell thousands of different brands and products, it would be very costly and time consuming to have someone who goes around the store counting exactly how much of a particular product there is in the store. There would have to be an electronic device that scans the barcode of the individual product which would then co-operate with the sales transactions so that they can work out how many they have sold, and how many are left in store. This would result in an answer for how many the supermarket would need to order for the following week to meet demand.

The supermarket should also have an electronic ordering system that allows the company to only amend the orders according to seasonal products, e. g. Christmas puddings or pumpkins, or if they are planning on doing a promotion (3 for the price of 2 etc) so that they can ensure that the store is well prepared for the influx of consumers purchasing this product. As many items either sell at a constant rate, (e. g. bread, eggs) or if they have a long shelf life, they are less likely to need to amend these orders frequently.

The automatic ordering system would always have a ‘base’ order that wouldn’t need to be touched unless amendments were required. The boundaries of ensuring that the shelves are constantly filled to the correct amount rely on good communication between staff and managers. The employees are the people who are in direct contact with the products and if they can see that the product is running low, then they need to tell their manager so that they can act accordingly. Also, stock taking using both a hand held computerised system and sales reports does not factor in theft from the shop.

If people are stealing and getting away with it, then the company will not know unless an actual count of stock has been done. Theft, if occurring on a regular basis could leave the store short on popular products even though careful stock appears to have taken place. It is also time consuming to count every individual product available in a supermarket, so many companies might not even check their inventory and simply send off the ‘base’ stock requirements which again could lead to them running out of products which leads to dissatisfied customers and possible loss of business.

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