Centre for Process Excellence and Innovation

Operations Strategy

Operations strategy is the process by which internal resources are aligned to external market requirements. Key decisions involve the way in which firms respond to customer orders (order fulfilment strategy), the degree to which a firm is able to adapt to changes in the environment (flexibility and responsiveness), and how product variety is provided and managed.

Build-to-Order and Order Fulfilment Strategies

Building products to customer (BTO) order allows firms to provide the exact specifications requested by the customer, while avoiding costly overproduction. At the same time BTO strategies require proactive demand and capacity management. The following papers report on BTO strategies within an automotive context.

Holweg, M. and Pil, F.K. (2004) The second century: reconnecting customer and value chain through build-to-order: moving beyond mass and lean production in the auto industry. Cambridge, Mass. and London, UK: The MIT Press.

Holweg, M. and Pil, F.K. (2001) "Successful build-to-order strategies start with the customer." MIT Sloan Management Review, 43(1): 74-83

Flexibility and Responsiveness

Being able to respond to changes in the context a firm operates in is a fundamental requirement for sustainable competitiveness. A central theme in CPEI's research portfolio is to analyse how supply chain structures can enable such responsiveness at the customer interface.

Davies, J. and Joglekar, N. (2013) "Supply chain integration, product modularity and market valuation: evidence from the solar energy industry." Production and Operations Management (forthcoming)

Reichhart, A. and Holweg, M. (2007) "Creating the customer-responsive supply chain: a reconciliation of concepts." International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 27(11): 1144-1172

Holweg, M., Disney, S.M., Hines, P. and Naim, M.M. (2005) "Towards responsive vehicle supply: a simulation-based investigation into automotive scheduling systems." Journal of Operations Management, 23(5): 507-530

Holweg, M. (2005) "The three dimensions of responsiveness." International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 25(7-8): 603-622

Holweg, M. (2005) "An investigation into supplier responsiveness: empirical evidence from the automotive industry." International Journal of Logistics Management, 16(1): 96-119 (DOI: 10.1108/09574090510617376)

Managing Product Variety and Complexity

Manufactured products are generally offered in a range of configurations, depending on the options the customer selects. Balancing the need for providing product variety to the customer with the ensuing costs in the manufacturing process is a central theme in Operations Strategy.

Scavarda, F., Reichhart, A., Hamacher, S. and Holweg, M. (2010) "Managing product variety in emerging markets." International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 30(2): 205-224

Stäblein, T., Holweg, M. and Miemczyk, J. (2011) "Theoretical versus actual product variety: how much customisation do customers really demand?" International Journal of Operations and Production Management, 31(3): 350-370

Pil, F.K. and Holweg, M. (2004) "Linking product variety to order-fulfillment strategies." Interfaces, 34(5): 394-403 (DOI: 10.1287/inte.1040.0092)

Please contact Dr Matthias Holweg to find out more.

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