MODULE TITLE: – Project Management
Assessment Type: Case Study – [Individual Assignment]
ANSWER ALL QUESTIONS
MAX WORDS: 2000
Indicative Assessment Requirements for the Module;-
• The assessment weighting for this aspect is 50%. Max 2000 Words – Individual
Module Learning Outcomes to be Assessed:-
This module is designed to give students an opportunity to be an individual contributor, working on a project team to define, plan and manage a project. Particular focus is given to hands-on practice of the processes, developing a project plan, and using project management software to build and then present the project team results in class with a debrief of key points.
This module introduces Project Management and identifies the tools and techniques to resolve problems associated with bringing projects in on time and within an established budget. Discussion will include topics such as project scheduling, PERT/CPM, resource levelling, team dynamics and cost estimates. The student will learn how to develop project proposals and project reports
The student will learn the primary elements of Project Management to such an extent that he/she is able to develop a detailed project plan for a small or large- scale project. Additionally, the student will become familiar with negotiation, team building and quantitative estimation skills.
This module also focuses on both the manufacturing and service businesses and the internal and external operations involved at all levels of the supply chain in a global environment. Students will learn how the coordination of all the functions within these operations impacts on the movement and delivery of goods and/or services to the right place at the right time. Emphasis is placed on the importance of adopting a “total systems” approach by the firm and its networks, which enhance the value adding activities of the supply chain and its logistical application to achieve customer satisfaction. The module also demonstrates the strategic importance of developing and implementing comprehensive operations for both these types of business.
Upon the successful completion of the module, the student should be able to:
• Understand the primary concepts and practices underpinning Project management
• Be able to devise and implement a project management plan
• Work effectively within a project team
• Understand the contexts for project management and project planning in a localized and/or global context
Locating a business to enhance the customer experience
Avis Car Hire
One of the most important decisions a business has to make is where to locate. The location of the business can have a significant effect on how it performs. Businesses will aim to operate from locations that provide the maximum competitive advantage. These decisions need to be reviewed regularly. By selecting the best location, a business could get more customers, improve its efficiency and generate greater profits. For example, choosing an out-of-town shopping park instead of a high street may allow a retail business to have greater shop space, better overheads and attract more customers because parking is easier.
Multinational businesses need to make many decisions about the location of their operations. At an international level, they might need to choose which countries or territories to operate within to maximise opportunities. Within each country, they would need to locate the head office. At a more local level, they may need to choose whether to locate within or around major cities.
Avis Car Hire is an internationally recognised brand, operating within the United States, Canada, the UK, Ireland and Germany. It is one of the UK’s largest car rental company. As the company has developed, it has sought to retain the personal feel of a smaller business. The company encourages its branch managers to take responsibility for local operations. This approach helps to create a dynamic service driven by the individual branches. This means that each branch is free to focus on the needs of its local customers, while delivering Avis’s values and high standards of customer service.
Car rental is an extremely competitive market. There are many car rental companies operating in the UK. Avis aims to outperform its competitors through a focus on customer service. Service is a core element of Avis’s ethos and as such, employees seek to provide the highest standards of customer care. This is the driving force and key differentiator of the business. As part of this strategy, Avis attempts to locate its branches as close as possible to its customers. It has an extensive branch network. Within the UK, the company operates from about 350 locations. Most people (over 75% of the country’s population) live within five miles of an Avis branch.
This case study focuses on how Avis decides where to locate its new or relocated branches.
Factors affecting the location of a business
There are several reasons why an organisation might decide to open new branches or relocate its existing operations. It might want to expand the business, so it will open branches in cities where the organisation did not previously have a presence. A business might also want to restructure or modernise its operations. It might do this by bringing together some existing departments into new purpose-built premises. It might decide to shut its less profitable operations and open branches in locations that offer more business potential.
A business will have to consider many factors when determining where to locate a new branch or operation. Usually, it will have to balance several factors in making a decision. Sometimes one factor may sway the decision:
• It may choose a site with the cheapest land or buildings.
• It might decide on a location that is convenient for key employees. A business needs to be able to recruit staff with the right skills base.
• It might choose a site that has easy access to raw materials. For example, many frozen food factories are located near fishing ports to reduce transport time taken and to keep fish fresh.
• The key factor could be the transport and service infrastructure. Many businesses require easy access to good road and railway links and modern telecommunication services. These ensure that they can meet service or delivery deadlines.
Avis Car Hire is a service business. Its customers include:
• businesses, who may require regular car rentals for their staff or visitors
• individual customers, who may want to hire a car when they are on holiday or if their own vehicle has been involved in an accident.
Avis makes it as easy as possible for customers to use its services. For example, business customers may need a car delivered to their doorstep. Alternatively, retail customers can use Avis’s unique pick-up service, where the customer will be collected from their location and taken back to the branch to collect the car.
Customers can also pick up cars direct from branches, so all Avis sites need to have good transportation links and easy access. They also need to be close to their customers. This helps to ensure Avis can keep its promise to customers on the speed and efficiency of its service.
Avis has branches in two types of locations:
• First, there are ‘home/city’ branches. These are located in areas close to long-term business partners, as well as to a large market for personal customers. These branches meet the demand for car rental from businesses and individuals wanting a car for accident cover or for leisure purposes and represent 95% of all Avis’s locations.
• Second, there are branches at airport locations. These provide a service for people flying into or out of a region.
By locating branches in busy areas and near to its customers, Avis can also increase awareness of its services by using its premises to project a strong visual brand. The signs and fittings at each branch premises display the Avis corporate logo and reflect the company’s colours and branding.
Avis also needs to be open to changing customer demand. For example, a major new housing development may generate a new source of customers in an area. The growth of residential housing could also encourage new businesses, such as shops and offices, to open nearby to provide services and goods to this new market. Avis needs to be in a position to adapt its locations to meet any changes in its market efficiently.
Identifying a new location
Before selecting a new location for a branch, Avis undertakes a detailed analysis. Initially, local managers identify the potential of possible new locations. This is done through a detailed process of forecasting based on existing information, such as how many customers currently use each branch. This process enables the business to spot where existing branches are at maximum capacity and where there might be opportunities for new branches to win business from competitors.
At this early stage, managers look at the population in the catchment area of the proposed new branch. They assess how many cars have been rented by customers in this catchment area from surrounding branches. They aim to understand the amount of business in the area, as well as what level of business is currently being missed because Avis does not have a presence in that local market.
Avis sets a boundary for a new location aiming to be within a six-minute drive time for its customers. It also needs to be close to referral sources, such as vehicle repair centres, mechanics and dealerships. These are some of the places where Avis may acquire new customers, such as people who urgently need a rental car because their own car has broken down or been involved in an accident.
They should be easy to get to at all times. If the area around the site experiences frequent traffic jams, this might inconvenience customers and create negative perceptions of Avis’s service. Avis managers undertake an initial property analysis to see if a site is worth further investigation. They use a comprehensive checklist to evaluate each location. This includes looking at other planning applications being made in the area, estimating the cost of setting up the branch and considering the impacts promotional signs will have at and around the site.
Avis sets high standards so that every new branch will provide a better service for customers. For example, the new Avis Rent-A-Car branch at Heathrow airport has a convenient and accessible position between the airport junctions on both the M4 and the M25 motorways. This means customers coming from different directions can find it easily.
It also has prominent signage to make it easier for customers to see where they should leave rental vehicles that are being returned. The new branch also has operational advantages for Avis. It is a bigger site and allows more efficient operations. Its location means that shuttle times to the airport terminals have reduced. It now takes 10 minutes less to transfer customers from the Avis offices to the terminal buildings. The new branch also offers Wi-Fi and has a rest area for customers. The improved facilities not only mean customers generally feel more comfortable, but also that business people can keep using email and internet whilst waiting.
There are also other factors that influence Avis in its choice of location for a new site. It is important that safety requirements are met, for example, making sure the road conditions are suitable. Ideally, there should be the space to expand operations in the future, so managers assess if the local facilities and infrastructure will allow this.
Managers also take into account environmental considerations. Avis aims to make new branches as environmentally-friendly as possible:
• Long-life bulbs are used within Avis signage. These last five times longer than standard bulbs. This reduces environmental waste and cuts the labour hours spent replacing bulbs.
• Photocells are used to switch on outside lights and signs only when they are needed. This reduces electricity consumption.
• Regulators are placed on car wash and jet wash machines to reduce the amount of shampoo used.
• Printing is kept to a minimum and documents are only printed on recycled paper.
• A ‘last person out’ switch turns off all non-essential electrical devices at the end of the day.
• Special window blinds reduce heat gain, which reduces energy costs.
• Offices use efficient lighting that generates less heat, so that cooling systems are not required.
• Furniture is recycled by donating replaced items to charities.
As there are 7,700 Avis Rent-A-Car branches worldwide, even small environmental improvements at branch level produce a big difference globally.
Setting up new branch locations gives Avis the opportunity to expand the business and improve on the quality of its customer service. The key factor that often differentiates a service business from its competitors is the quality of the care and attention given to customers. When looking for new sites, Avis aims to locate the business as close to customers as possible. This means that it can respond more quickly to their requirements. It also makes it more easy and convenient for customers to access the services of Avis.
In evaluating potential new locations, Avis also aims to address environmental concerns. During refurbishments and the setting up of new branches, Avis puts in place measures to reduce the carbon footprint of the business. This not only improves the customer experience, it also helps Avis to reduce its costs and grow as a business.
1. Discuss the various performance objectives of AVIS. [30 Marks]
2. Explain why Avis Car Hire tries to locate branches close to its customers. [30 Marks]
3. Analyse the various factors that influence Avis’s decisions about where to locate a new branch.
TOTAL: 100 Marks
ASSIGNMENT MARKING CRITERIA
MARK 29 or less 30 – 39 40 – 49 50 – 59 60 – 69 70 +
Has the question been answered?
Vague, random, unrelated material Some mention of the issue, but a collection of disparate points Barely answers the question – just reproduces what knows about the topic Some looseness/
Digressions Well focused Highly focused
Is there evidence of having read widely
and use of appropriate and up to date material to make a case? No evidence of reading.
No use of theory – not even hinted at implicitly. No evidence of reading.
An implicit hint at some knowledge of theory, etc. No evidence of reading. Very basic theories mentioned but not developed or well used. Some reading evident, but confined to core texts. Good reading.
Good range of theories included. Excellent reading.
Well chosen theories.
UNDERSTANDING & SYNTHESIS
Are ideas summarized rather than being reproduced, and are they inter-related with other ideas?
No theory included. Vague assertions/poor explanations. Long winded descriptions of theory.
Some long winded sections.
Some quotations, but stand alone.
Some inter- connections. Good summary of theory.
Good use of quotations that flow with narrative.
Good inter-connections. Succinct, effective summaries of theory. Excellent choice and threading of quotations into argument. Good counterpoising of a range of perspectives.
Does it show appropriate use of theory in a
practical situation? No examples No/limited/
inappropriate examples Few examples Uneven examples Good examples Excellent range of examples.
Does it identify the key issues, etc in a given scenario, proposal or argument? Vague assertions about issues. Largely descriptive with no identification and analysis of central issues. Limited insight into issues. Some good observations. Good, detailed analysis. Comprehensive range of issues identified and discussed fully.
EVALUATION & RECOMMENDATIONS
Does it critically assess material?
Are there workable and imaginative solutions? No evaluation. Uncritical acceptance of material. Some evaluation but weak. Little insight. Good interpretation. Some but limited sophistication in argument.
Good critical assessment. Independent thought displayed. Full critical assessment and substantial individual insight.
Thorough and accurate citation and referencing No referencing No referencing Limited/poor referencing Some inconsistencies in referencing Appropriate referencing Appropriate referencing
Logical and coherent structure to argument and effective presentation No structure apparent.
Poor presentation. Poor structure.
Poor presentation. Acceptable, but uneven structure.
Reasonable presentation. Reasonable structure.
Good presentation. Good argument.
Well presented material. Excellent argument.
Very effective presentation format.