MSc in Quality Management – Quality Operations Management Coursework 1

Please answer the four questions at the end of the case exercise. In your answers, yous should make reference to theoretical underpinning. Your report should include an introduction to the case, answers to the four questions incorporating critical discussion based on theory and supporting material from the case study, and a short section with concluding remarks. Please note that your report should be referenced in a consistent academic manner. Use references properly and provide a reference list at the end of your report. Reports should not exceed 3500 words excluding references.

All group members should complete the provided self/peer evaluation sheet and append it to the report.

Marks will be awarded as per schedule below:

Introduction / Concluding remarks5%
Question 120%
Question 220%
Question 320%
Question 420%
References5%

Additionally 10% (maximum) will be awarded to each individual student weighted by the average mark of peer review.

CASE EXERCISE

Operations Objectives at the Penang Mutiara

There are many luxurious hotels in south-East Asia region but few can compare with the Penang Mutiara, a 440 room top-of-the-market hotel which nestles in the lush greenery of Malaysia’s Indian Ocean coast. Owned by Pernas-OUE of Malaysia and managed by Singapoe Manadarin Inernational Hotels, the hotel’s General Manager is Wernie Eisen a Swiss hotelier who has managed luxury hotels all over the world.

He is under no illusions about the importance of running an effective operation. ‘ Managing a hotel of this size is an immensely complicated task’, he says. ‘Our customers have every right to be demanding. They expect first-class service

and that’s what we have to give them. If we have any problems with managing this operation, the customer sees them immediately and that’s the biggest incentive for us to take operations performance seriously.

‘Our quality of service just has to be impeccable. First of all this means dealing with the basics. For example,our staff must be courteous at all times and yet also friendly towards our guests. And of course they must have the knowledge to be able to answer guests’ questions. The building and equipment- in fact all the hardware of the operation – must support the luxury atmosphere which we have created in the hotel. Stylish design and top-class materials not only to create the right impression but, if we choose them carefully, are also durable so the hotel still looks good over the years. Most of all, though, quality is about

anticipating our guests’ needs, thinking ahead so you can identify what will delight or irritate a guest.’

The hotel tries to anticipate guests’ needs in a number of ways. For example, if guests have been to hotel before, staff avoid their having to repeat the information they gave on the previous visit.

Reception staff simply check to see if guests have stayed before, retrieve the information and take them straight to the room without irritating delays.

Quality of service also means helping guests sort out their own problems. If the airline loses a guest’s luggage en route to the hotel, for example, he or she will arrive at the hotel undestandably irritated.

‘The fact that it is not us who have irritated them is not really the issue. It is our jobe to make them feel better.’

Speed, in terms of fast response to customers’ requests is something else that is important.

‘A guest just should not be kept waiting.  If a guest has a request, he or she has that request now so it needs to be sorted out now.  This is not always easy but we do our best.  For example, if every guest in the hotel tonight decided to call room service and request a meal instead of going to the restaurants, our room service department would obviously be grossly overloaded and customers would have to wait an unacceptably long time before the meals were brought to their rooms.  We cope with this service by keeping a close watch on how demand for room service is building up.  If we think it is going to get above the level where response time is unacceptably long, we will call in staff from other restaurants in the hotel.  Of course, to do this we have to make sure that our staff are multi-skilled.  In fact we have a policy of making sure that restaurant staff can always do more than one job.  Its this kind of flexibility which allows us to

maintain fast response to the customer.’

Likewise, Wernie regards dependability as a fundamental principle of a well- managed hotel.

‘We must always keep our promise.  For example, rooms must be ready on time and accounts must be ready for presentation when a guest departs; the guests expect a dependable service and anything less than full dependability is a

legitimate cause for dissatisfaction.’

It is on the grand occassions, however, when dependability is particularly important in the hotel. When staging a banquet, for example, everything has to be on time. Drinks, food, entertainment have to be exactly as planned. Any deviation from the plan will very soon be noticed by customers.

‘It is largely a matter of planning the details and anticipating what could go wrong’, says Wernie. ‘Once we’ ve done the planning we can anticipate possible problems and plan how to cope with them, or better still, prevent them from occuring in the first place.’

Flexibility means a number of things to the hotel. First of all it means that they should be able to meet a guest’s requests.

  • We never like to say NO!’ says Wernie. ‘For example, if a guest asks for some Camembert cheese and we don’t have it in stock, we will make sure that someone qoes to the supermarket and tries to get it. If, in spite of our best efforts, we can’t get any we will negotiate an alternative solution with the guest. This has an important side-effect – it greatly helps us to maintain the motivation of our staff. We are constantly being asked to do the seemingly impossible – yet we do

it, and our staff think it’s great. We all like to be part of an organization which is capable of achieving the very difficult, if not the impossible.’

Flexibility in the hotel also means the ability to cope with the seasonal fluctuations in demand. They achieve this partly by using temporary part time staff. In the back-office parts of the hotel this isn’t a major problem. In the laundry, for example it is relatively easy to put on an extra shift in busy periods by increasing staffing levels. However, this is more of a problem in the parts of the hotel that have direct contact with the customer.

  • New temporary staff can’t be expected to have the same customer skills as our more regular staff. Our solution to this is to keep the temporary staff as far in the backgroung as we possibly can and make sure that our skilled, well-trained staff are the ones who usually interact with the customer. So, for example, a waiter who would normally take orders, service the food, and take away the dirty plates would in peak times restrict his or her activities to taking orders and serving the food. The less skilled part of the job, taking away the plates, could be left to temporary staff.

As far as cost is concerned, around 60 per cent of the hotel’s total operating expences go on food and beverages, so one obvious way of keeping costs down is by making sure that food is not wasted. Energy costs,at 6 per cent of total operating costs, are also a potential source of saving. However, although cost savings are welcome, the hotel is very carefull never to compromise the quality of its service in order to cut costs. Wernie’s view is quite clear:

‘It is impeccable customer service which gives us our competitive advanage, not price. Good service means that our guests return again and again. At times, around half our guests are people who have been before. The more guests we have, the higher is our utilization of rooms and restaurants, and this is what really keeps cost per guest down and profitability reasonable. So in the end we’ve come full circle: it’s quality of our service which keeps our volumes high

and our costs low.’

Questions

1  Describe how you think Wernie will:

  1. make sure that the way he manages the hotel is appropriate to the way it competes for business


    1. implement any change in strategy;
    1. develop his operations so that it drives the long term strategy of the hotel.
  • What questions might Wernie ask to judge whether his operation is a stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, or stage 4 operation on Hayes and

Wheelwright’s scale of excellence?

  • The case describes how quality, speed, dependability, flexibility and cost impact on the hotel’s external customers. Explain how each of these performance objectives might have internal benefits.
  • How might an operation such as this improve its performance levels?

MSc in Quality Management

Quality Operations Management Coursework 1

Please answer the four questions at the end of the case exercise. In your answers yous should make reference to theoretical underpinning. Your report should include an introduction to the case, answers to the four questions incorporating critical discussion based on theory and supporting material from the case study, and a short section with conluding remarks. Please note that your report should be referenced in a consistent academic manner. Use references properly and provide a reference list at the end of your report. Reports should not exceed 3500 words excluding references.

All group members should complete the provided self/peer evaluation sheet and append it to the report.

Marks will be awarded as per schedule below:

Introduction / Concluding remarks5%
Question 120%
Question 220%
Question 320%
Question 420%
References5%

Additionally 10% (maximum) will be awarded to each individual student weighted by the average mark of peer review.

CASE EXERCISE

Operations Objectives at the Penang Mutiara

There are many luxurious hotels in south-East Asia region but few can compare with the Penang Mutiara, a 440 room top-of-the-market hotel which nestles in the lush greenery of Malaysia’s Indian Ocean coast. Owned by Pernas-OUE of Malaysia and managed by Singapoe Manadarin Inernational Hotels, the hotel’s General Manager is Wernie Eisen a Swiss hotelier who has managed luxury hotels all over the world.

He is under no illusions about the importance of running an effective operation. ‘ Managing a hotel of this size is an immensely complicated task’, he says. ‘Our customers have every right to be demanding. They expect first-class service

and that’s what we have to give them. If we have any problems with managing this operation, the customer sees them immediately and that’s the biggest incentive for us to take operations performance seriously.

‘Our quality of service just has to be impeccable. First of all this means dealing with the basics. For example,our staff must be courteous at all times and yet also friendly towards our guests. And of course they must have the knowledge to be able to answer guests’ questions. The building and equipment- in fact all the hardware of the operation – must support the luxury atmosphere which we have created in the hotel. Stylish design and top-class materials not only to create the right impression but, if we choose them carefully, are also durable so the hotel still looks good over the years. Most of all, though, quality is about

anticipating our guests’ needs, thinking ahead so you can identify what will delight or irritate a guest.’

The hotel tries to anticipate guests’ needs in a number of ways. For example, if guests have been to hotel before, staff avoid their having to repeat the information they gave on the previous visit.

Reception staff simply check to see if guests have stayed before, retrieve the information and take them straight to the room without irritating delays.

Quality of service also means helping guests sort out their own problems. If the airline loses a guest’s luggage en route to the hotel, for example, he or she will arrive at the hotel undestandably irritated.

‘The fact that it is not us who have irritated them is not really the issue. It is our jobe to make them feel better.’

Speed, in terms of fast response to customers’ requests is something else that is important.

‘A guest just should not be kept waiting.  If a guest has a request, he or she has that request now so it needs to be sorted out now.  This is not always easy but we do our best.  For example, if every guest in the hotel tonight decided to call room service and request a meal instead of going to the restaurants, our room service department would obviously be grossly overloaded and customers would have to wait an unacceptably long time before the meals were brought to their rooms.  We cope with this service by keeping a close watch on how demand for room service is building up.  If we think it is going to get above the level where response time is unacceptably long, we will call in staff from other restaurants in the hotel.  Of course, to do this we have to make sure that our staff are multi-skilled.  In fact we have a policy of making sure that restaurant staff can always do more than one job.  Its this kind of flexibility which allows us to

maintain fast response to the customer.’

Likewise, Wernie regards dependability as a fundamental principle of a well- managed hotel.

‘We must always keep our promise.  For example, rooms must be ready on time and accounts must be ready for presentation when a guest departs; the guests expect a dependable service and anything less than full dependability is a

legitimate cause for dissatisfaction.’

It is on the grand occassions, however, when dependability is particularly important in the hotel. When staging a banquet, for example, everything has to be on time. Drinks, food, entertainment have to be exactly as planned. Any deviation from the plan will very soon be noticed by customers.

‘It is largely a matter of planning the details and anticipating what could go wrong’, says Wernie. ‘Once we’ ve done the planning we can anticipate possible problems and plan how to cope with them, or better still, prevent them from occuring in the first place.’

Flexibility means a number of things to the hotel. First of all it means that they should be able to meet a guest’s requests.

  • We never like to say NO!’ says Wernie. ‘For example, if a guest asks for some Camembert cheese and we don’t have it in stock, we will make sure that someone qoes to the supermarket and tries to get it. If, in spite of our best efforts, we can’t get any we will negotiate an alternative solution with the guest. This has an important side-effect – it greatly helps us to maintain the motivation of our staff. We are constantly being asked to do the seemingly impossible – yet we do

it, and our staff think it’s great. We all like to be part of an organization which is capable of achieving the very difficult, if not the impossible.’

Flexibility in the hotel also means the ability to cope with the seasonal fluctuations in demand. They achieve this partly by using temporary part time staff. In the back-office parts of the hotel this isn’t a major problem. In the laundry, for example it is relatively easy to put on an extra shift in busy periods by increasing staffing levels. However, this is more of a problem in the parts of the hotel that have direct contact with the customer.

  • New temporary staff can’t be expected to have the same customer skills as our more regular staff. Our solution to this is to keep the temporary staff as far in the backgroung as we possibly can and make sure that our skilled, well-trained staff are the ones who usually interact with the customer. So, for example, a waiter who would normally take orders, service the food, and take away the dirty plates would in peak times restrict his or her activities to taking orders and serving the food. The less skilled part of the job, taking away the plates, could be left to temporary staff.

As far as cost is concerned, around 60 per cent of the hotel’s total operating expences go on food and beverages, so one obvious way of keeping costs down is by making sure that food is not wasted. Energy costs,at 6 per cent of total operating costs, are also a potential source of saving. However, although cost savings are welcome, the hotel is very carefull never to compromise the quality of its service in order to cut costs. Wernie’s view is quite clear:

‘It is impeccable customer service which gives us our competitive advanage, not price. Good service means that our guests return again and again. At times, around half our guests are people who have been before. The more guests we have, the higher is our utilization of rooms and restaurants, and this is what really keeps cost per guest down and profitability reasonable. So in the end we’ve come full circle: it’s quality of our service which keeps our volumes high

and our costs low.’

Questions

1  Describe how you think Wernie will:

  1. make sure that the way he manages the hotel is appropriate to the way it competes for business


    1. implement any change in strategy;
    1. develop his operations so that it drives the long term strategy of the hotel.
  • What questions might Wernie ask to judge whether his operation is a stage 1, stage 2, stage 3, or stage 4 operation on Hayes and

Wheelwright’s scale of excellence?

  • The case describes how quality, speed, dependability, flexibility and cost impact on the hotel’s external customers. Explain how each of these performance objectives might have internal benefits.
  • How might an operation such as this improve its performance levels?

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