You have an opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of service management by carrying out an evaluation of a real service operation. The structure of the assignment is similar to that for the introductory operations management module.
The main assignment is application based and attempts to be as relevant as possible to the needs of students. To this end, you may select the service operation to be studied and the analytical focus of the assigned project.
The assignment question is to critically analyse and evaluate an actual service operation using material from the module.
The assignment develops and tests your understanding of and ability to synthesise and apply a range of service management theory, concepts and tools. The assignment also tests your ability to go beyond module content and find and apply more advanced material from, for example, library resources such as journal articles. A list of key journals is provided in the ‘Analyse the service operation’ section below.
Your task is to address the following issues in your assignment submission:
- Select Service Operation
- Select a service operation or a sub-process, or activity from within that service operation (not an industry or a whole institution). This is important. For example you cannot analyse the “UK Government”, “The University of Birmingham”, “The Financial Services Industry”, “Walmart inc”, “Apple inc”, “Huawei”, “The McDonalds Corporation”. “The Automotive industry”. These are industries and institutions.
- The subject service may be from your work environment or it may be a service that you use in your private life. It may be that you have access to an interesting service operation via friends or family. It does not matter how you get access really, as long as you can get sufficient information to carry out an analysis.
- One exception to this latitude in the choice of operation is that you are not allowed to take a ‘ready-made’ case study and then analyse that. For example, you cannot analyse existing research or teaching case from textbooks or journal articles. You cannot choose Singapore Airlines and you cannot repeat the work that you did in the performance management assignment, so I would encourage you not to do an assignment specifically using the DS, SLM Activity and Outcome tools, unless you can take it to a whole new critical level.
- Another criterion for selection of the subject is that the operation has some clear problems. It is much easier to write a meaningful critical appraisal if you have some interesting problems to analyse.
2- Identify Operational Challenges
What service operations challenges or problems are there to be addressed in your subject operation, and why?
3- Provide a rationale for your choice of tools and methods
What theory, concepts, tools and techniques could be used to address these challenges and problems, and how might you apply them? You may select analytical material and approaches from any unit of the module, though be aware that if you use a theory that you have previously applied in the group assignments, then the bar is raised. If you apply anything that you have used previously in the group work then we would insist on you carrying out additional research and that research should be clearly evident in your submission. You cannot get marks twice for the same piece of work!
Select material from two or at most three topic areas of the module. A broad-based analysis using four or more topic areas is feasible, but it is not recommended as the work might become a little ‘thin’. Stay focused.
4- Collect your data
Your analysis should be based on data gathered from observation, public domain information, survey work, interviews, discussions with customers/managers and from any secondary sources that might be available. Please do not include lots of raw data in the main body of the report. If you feel the need to include lots of data, put the data in an appendix. You should explain your methodology for data collection and analysis clearly in the body of the report.
Note. Many students get hung up on the word ‘data’. assuming that it refers to the information derived from quantitative survey work. This is not the case. Data comprise pretty much anything you can get your hands on that informs you about the subject of your analysis.
5- Analyse the service operation
The core of the assignment is to analyse your data using one or two tools, concepts or techniques provided in this module. (Keen students will actually go beyond the module content and carry out further reading into the topic areas of interest. Evidence of this additional research will be rewarded.) The analysis of the data should be provided in the body of the report.
The following are the key journals where you could focus your additional research:
- Journal of Service Management
- The Service Industries Journal
- Journal of Service Research
- Journal of Service Theory and Practice
- Service Business
- International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research
- International Journal of Public Sector Management
All are linked to in the Master Resource List for the module.
- 6- Evaluate the operation and the theory
As a result of the analysis, what can you say about the operation and the tool/concept/ technique? What recommendations would you make about how to improve the operation and the tool/concept/technique? How robust/valid are your recommendations?
- 7- Important Notes
- Start your work by briefly explaining the environment and competing priorities of the service operation. You might want to use one of the summary devices from the early part of the module like the service concept. Keep it brief. The introduction has got to do a practical job of work but should do so, where possible, using service management frameworks, language, etc. The introduction has to quickly inform the reader about the service operations task.
- Briefly explain the service operations challenges or problems that you are going to analyse. Why is the service operation of interest? Don’t provide loads of background information: it earns few marks.
- It might be worth ranking the problems in order of importance.
- What theory, tools, techniques and concepts are you going to apply in your analysis, and why? The theory needs to be appropriate for analysis of the operations issues of interest. The Method section also briefly explains how you will apply your selected service operations material. You do not need to repeat back a lot of theory … sections of my notes, the textbook, etc. If you do so, you will earn hardly any marks from this repetition.
- Focus your analysis and make recommendations for improvement. Do not try to cover everything. Provide a brief argument for focusing on one or two operational problems and then concentrate on those.
- If you must reapply any material that you used previously in the group-work elements, then the bar is raised. You will have to carry out substantively deeper analysis in this final assignment.
- You may use material from other Service Management subjects (for example, from textbook chapters not covered in the module) but, if you do so, please discuss your intentions with your tutor.
- Critically, you should search for further reading in the service management journals that enhance your knowledge of the concepts you will apply. If you apply module content thoroughly, then you will likely get a pass. If you can show application of further reading in the peer-reviewed service management journals then you are likely to earn higher marks. If you discover some bit of service management theory outside the mainstream that you want to apply in your work, great. As long as it is service management and not pure marketing, strategy, economics, etc., then fine.
- There is nothing wrong with common-sense, but if all you do in this assignment is apply common-sense you will fail. You really need to demonstrate, by application that you understand service management.
- A Structure Guide is provided which you can use as a template for your submission.
- Feel free to depart from the suggested structure. I provide the guide because, over the years, anxious students have asked for it. However, whatever you do, we insist that you address the following submission requirements:
- Cover Sheet: Your submission must include a completed cover sheet and include it as the first page of your assignment. As it happens, the structure guide already has the cover sheet as the first page. Make sure you complete the details accurately and also ensure that your ID number appears on every page. The structure guide has a reminder to do this in the header bar.
- The page setup is A4, portrait. Please do not change this format.
- For each report, the typeface to be used for body text is 11 Arial. The structure guide already has this typeface for the body text.
- Use any typeface you like for headings.
- Insert additional diagrams, photos, tables as you see fit. It is up to you to decide on the balance of content.
- Your review is to be a maximum of 2500 words with no leeway!
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