Examine the limitations of using benchmarking to improve organisational performance
Overview of the assessment
This coursework assessment comprises an organisational scenario and three questions. You are required to address the three questions in the context of the organisational scenario, and present your work in the form of an essay. The word count for this assessment is 2000 words. All questions must be attempted and carry equal marks.
Organisational Scenario: Devon Crab
To compete on speed of response to customers, demands a fast efficient operations facility that is supported by a dynamic customer-service function. The competitive advantage of the Blue Sea Food Company (www.devoncrab.com ) is derived from rapidly breaking down each crab into its component parts, which not only dramatically reduces cooking time from 35 minutes for a whole crab, down to eight minutes, but also increases overall yield and supports level capacity utilisation.
Nonetheless, once cooked, the crab components still require four hours to cool for fresh produce and then a further eight hours in a blast freezer for frozen products. However, processing time prior to cooking is reduced through using specialised machinery – a spinning machine to remove the ‘purse’ meat and a machine that blows out the leg meat in a ‘pea-shooter’ action.
Yet speedy processing is only one element in emphasising speed of order processing to customers. An effective supply chain is needed to acquire the 3500 tonnes of annual crab load. Here, 30% (800 tonnes) is drawn from the company’s own fleet of fishing vessels, with the balance (2700 tonnes) from third-party fleets. Since quality of finished product is a key objective, fishing fleets work to strict guidelines.
However, because of significant seasonal variation in the availability of crabs and the variability of the quality of crab meat, the Blue Sea Food Company relies on significant investment in stocks, fluctuating from £700K to a high of £2.5m depending on the time of year. This does allow the organisation to be reactive to customer orders and facilitates a mixing of white and brown crab meat to ensure consistency, flavour and texture conforms to their tastes and preferences.
To ensure managerial control, a detailed matrix is used to identify component costs at each stage of production, combined with key metrics such as cooking times and yield produced. Nonetheless, management continually wrestle with the issue of how best to dispose of the production by-products – water from cooking and the discarded crab shell.
The Blue Sea Food Company is now supplying crab to Europe and South-East Asia, with demand currently exceeding supply in China, and an annual turnover around £11m.
(Extract of case organisation taken from: Evans, C. (2015) Shipwreck to Buoyant Business: The case of the Blue Sea Food Company, Management Services, Autumn, p. 37-38)
Q1 Critically discuss the effectiveness of using a ‘Balanced Scorecard’ as a tool for measuring organisational performance.
Q2 Examine the limitations of using benchmarking to improve organisational performance
Q3 ‘Competitor analysis is fundamental to the pursuit of competitive advantage’. Discuss
This assignment addresses the following learning outcomes:
· Apply strategic management accounting techniques to improve an organisation’s competitive position (Q’s 1, 2 and 3)
· Critically evaluate measures of organisational performance (Q1 and 2)
· Evaluate approaches to strategic cost management to support organisational planning, control and decision-making (Q’s 1 and 2)
You are expected to engage with wide academic reading to support your assignment. Refer to learning material and articles available on Blackboard, as well as library sources referred to in the module reading list:
See marking criteria below
|Formative feedback and Support
Formative feedback provides opportunities to reflect on your ongoing work and preparation for your assignment. There is an assignment support session scheduled for 31st October. At this session, there will be an opportunity to discuss the assignment and receive Tutor feedback on any notes/reading.
Further information about this assessment is available on the Blackboard site for this module and includes: Module handbook, learning materials, articles and reading lists.
Please use the following file format(s): MS Word. We cannot ensure that other formats are compatible with markers’ software.
All work should be word processed in 12-point font Times New Roman or Arial and single spaced.
The first page of your coursework must include:
The maximum word limit for this coursework is 2000 words
You can view the UWE word count policy here: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/aboutus/policies
Please adhere to the principles of good academic practice and ensure you reference all sources used when developing your assessment, using the UWE Harvard system. Failure to properly reference your work to original source material can be grounds for the assessment offence of plagiarism and may result in failure of the assessment or have more serious implications.
For further guidance on correct referencing go to:
Details of what constitutes plagiarism and how to avoid it can be found here:
For general guidance on how to avoid assessment offences see: