This module explains how functional-level strategies can help a company achieve superior efficiency, quality, innovation, and customer responsiveness, leading to competitive advantage. Functional strategies consistent with attaining superior efficiency are considered first. This section reviews the contributions that each of the different functional areas of a company can make toward increasing efficiency. Among the topics discussed with regard to their impact on efficiency are economies of scale, learning effects, the experience curve, flexible production systems and mass customization, marketing strategy, and materials management and just in time. The contributions of R&D strategy, the human resource strategy, information systems, and company infrastructure are then examined.
Next, the module addresses how functional strategies can achieve superior quality of a company’s goods and services through the dimensions of reliability and excellence. The principal tool used by most managers today is Six Sigma for increasing reliability. However, total quality management (TQM) is an ancestor for improving reliability. Methods of implementing reliability methodologies are provided. Improving quality through excellence may be done through different attributes that include form, features, performance, durability, and styling.
The third section focuses on the means of achieving superior innovation through functional strategies. A discussion of the reasons for the high failure rate of innovations is followed by a list of ways to reduce innovation failures along with a detailed examination of the ways in which a company can build a distinctive competency in innovation.
The final section of the module concentrates on the contribution of functional strategies to improved responsiveness to customers. Achieving superior customer responsiveness requires superior efficiency, quality, and innovation. Also, the chapter describes steps that companies can take to better understand the needs of their customers and, better ways to satisfy those needs.
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