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Three Case Studies in Operations and Project Management

Conveyor Belts and Call Centers 7

Operations and Project Management consists, broadly, of two elements. One is the efficient organization of work processes to maximize throughput and therefore efficiency while minimizing production costs. The other is ensuring that the work processes actually carried out are the work processes intended to be carried out û that is, that the goods or services produced are those advertised, and what the customer comes through the door to get.

Discussion of operations and project management concentrates heavily on the first of these two elements, the specific design of work processes for maximum efficiency. After various ups and downs over the years, this rationalist approach to management is again coming into vogue (Waas). This is the internal dimension, so to speak. The external dimension is the suitability of the product, and may be too readily taken for granted (Boje). The following three case studies explore various aspects of these related elements. The first case study deals purely with the internal dimension of creating a smooth, efficient work flow. The following two cases expand the question to deal with the nature of the product, and the subtle ways that product suitability can interact with operations design and work flow efficiency.

This case study concerns work organization and work flow in a typical customer-service operation, in this case a DMV office. The product û temporary drivers' licenses û is generic in nature, and provided for a public agency not subject to competitive pressures (though it may be subject to public pressure though the political process.

The case study does not tell us the current staffing, but we can infer one or more work teams of six members each, each member performing one task in the job sequence. Cost of the work team, including salaries and camera charge, is $102/hou...

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