Operations Management in the Supply Chain Context

Operations Management in the Supply Chain Context


Knight Frank was established in 1896 as an auction, valuation and surveying business. Currently, the firm is recognized as the leading and independent real estate firm. The corporation operates not only in the UK but also other parts of the world.  It has about 335 offices, which are based on 52 different nations (Knight Frank n.d., p. 1).  The firm offers integrity and quality in the global commercial and residential advisory services (Knight Frank n.d., p. 1).

Description of the Organization

The company boasts of wide range of customers. Some of its clients include key individuals, institutional investors, portfolio landlords, Trusts, and PLCs. The firm provides tenancy management, tenancy checks, and pre-tenancy management. According to Maleyeff (2009, p. 29), the organization’s qualifiers and order winners can easily change because of customers’ different perceptions or behavior from competitors. Knight Frank Shanghai uses different features such as price and quality as the order winners and qualifiers.

The price of Knight Frank services is a significant consideration for all of its customers making it an order winner and qualifier in the competitive real estate market.  All other things in the sector are almost equal, but the unit price remains the order winner. The firm convinces its existing and potential consumers that it offers quality services at affordable rates (Knight Frank n.d., p. 1).

As a qualifier order, the firm uses value and quality. The mentioned is based on the perception that is unique to all clients. The perception can easily be influenced by personal interactions between customers and marketing strategies that Knight Frank uses. Additionally, the firm understands clearly customer values. Stentoft Arlbjørn and Vagn Freytag (2013, p. 175) point out that one of the features that a supplier can use is quality. However, the mentioned is only viable until competitors enhance their quality level.

Identification and Description of the Problem

The essay will focus on Frank Knight Shanghai. In the building managed by Knight Frank, all employees use access cards located at Access Control Systems. However, all visitors are required to register at the reception where they indicate their names, the purpose of their visit, entry time and the company they are visiting. They are also required to sign out when they are leaving the premise. In a situation when a visitor enters the building more than once a day, the entire registration process is repeated.  This wastes not only the visitor’ time but also that of the employee. Additionally, if there are many visitors, they would be required to queue and wait for the registration. In the case of overflow of visitors, there are usually additional security guards at the hall to ensure order. However, in situations when visitors are less, guards just idle around, and this contributes to wastage of resources. Moreover, the registration process is manual. Therefore, the firm is forced to hire additional personnel to record and compile the collected data and key them into the computers daily. It is also difficult to read handwritings of some visitors. More challenging is the fact that it is not easy to compare the physical and electronic data, and this can lead to loss of crucial information.

From the mentioned access control process, it is evident that the firm incurs a lot of waste through extra non-value parts. The visitors are likely to be annoyed with the tedious registration process because it will waste their time. From the perspective of Knight Frank Shanghai, the manual registration process contributes to unnecessary costs. This is because the company is forced to hire at least three security personnel for the registration purposes. To tackle the problem, the company applied lean management in its Shanghai.

Harms Caused to the Company

Based on the information above, it is evident that the firm’s problem is its security access systems, an aspect that can harm it in various ways. First, there was duplication of duties among the employees, an aspect that was likely to contribute negatively to the firm’s financial situation. For example, the company was forced to record the visitors’ data manually before transferring them to the back office computer. This forced the company to hire extra security guards to handle the premise. Hence, it had to spend more on the wages further resulting in financial harm.

The firm also wastes a lot of time during the registration process. This attracts complaints from the customers. The customers might fail to visit any building managed by Knight Frank because of the bureaucratic process linked to the registration.

Security is a sensitive issue, and one simple mistake can interfere with the entire operations of the Knight Frank chains across the globe. In the registration process, there is a possibility of visitors’ handwriting not being clear. This makes it challenging for the system operator to capture the data into the database of the computer. This is a security threat to the firm and is likely to portray its image or reputation negatively in the case of a threat.

The manual process reduces the speed of the firm’s security management system. There is time wastage during the registration process, and at times some of the crucial details are not captured clearly. This interferes with the quality of the captured information. Additionally, the manual processing system makes Knight Frank Shanghai not to ensure dependable security services. This is because captured data is not well stored. There is also a lack of flexibility in obtaining information. Therefore, the firm further incurs additional costs.

Literature Review

Lean Management

Lean management is the defined as the fusion of US and Japan management that focuses on the waste reduction, customer inventory and response time.  John Krafcik first used the term lean management in 1988. John Krafcik has been a quality engineer with the Toyota Company. Working with the Taichi Ohno, the quality engineer expanded Toyota’s methodology. In the methodology, seven key wastes were identified namely: waiting, defects, transporting, over production, inappropriate inventory, processing, and movement (Johnston 2008, p. 212). The Toyota Company discovered that it could realize low-cost and high-quality products in time by getting rid of waste and minimizing the production flow.  According to Maleyeff (2009, p. 29), it is a tool that is used to differentiate between firm’s values and wastes.  Hicks (2007, p. 234) gives the examples of waste, and they include extra processing, waiting, overproduction, defects, motion, transport and inventory.  Various corporations across the globe have applied lean management in their operations, mainly in the production and manufacturing sector. However, the system is presently gaining momentum in the service industry. One of the known examples of lean management application is Toyota Company. Presently, it is the main agenda of most consultancy firms (Maleyeff 2009, p. 31).

Most scholars have questioned the applicability of lean management in the service industry. Hicks (2007, p. 235) studies different service functions, for example, human resources, IT and security issues including long process times, poor management, standard procedures, and communication breakdown.

Citing Sindhwani and Malhotra (2015, p.110), in different operations systems, there are seven forms of waste, and these include inventory, defectives, transport, process, waiting time, over production and motion.  Nonetheless, in the service industry, the terms regarded as waste are not the same as in the manufacturing sector. Therefore, Stentoft Arlbjørn and Vagn Freytag (2013, p. 177) in their works identified seven forms of waste present in the service system, which includes: resource inefficiencies, mistakes, delay, movement, duplication, mistakes, processing inefficiencies, and review.  Therefore, application of the firm’s Online Access System will eliminate four categories of waste: duplication, delay and resource inefficiencies. Delay is defined as the time wasted in the service process (Näslund 2013, p. 87). This is the time wasted in the information transmission or during waiting. Further citing Hicks (2007, p. 240), the problem associated with lean management in the service industry include problems with value definition and waste identification.

The lean management can be used to tackle the Knight Frank problems in its Shanghai base. It can be used to implement a system whereby when visitors come into the premise they simply touch a screen machine located at the hall’s entrance and key in their details such as name, entry time and the name of the company they are visiting. The access machine will print a temporary visitor’s access card that will be valid for one day only. The visitors will use the access card both for entry and exit. The visitors’ information would be captured anytime they swipe the card at the system. The captured data will then be transferred to the computerized security system located at the firm’s back office. The information would be electronically kept in the firm’s database. Therefore, it will be possible for the security management officers to access them anytime. Furthermore, if the visitor keys in his/her details, the same information will reach the reception of the office that the visitor intends to go.  This will alert the firm that they have a visitor. Therefore, the firm will be prepared to receive the visitor at the door (Powell, Riezebos and Strandhagen 2013, p. 396).

The Lean Management Philosophy

One of the key philosophies of the lean management is the online access system. This is because the philosophy identifies the value of customers. According to Hicks (2007, p. 235), company visitors clearly understand the significance of security management system, but prefer a quick and simple one. The Online Access System pays attention to the needs of the customers. This is because it removes the traditional registration process and minimizes used time throughout the process. Additionally, it gives customers extra value especially when they learn that the firm they are visiting is expecting them (Näslund 2013, p. 88).

Consequently, the system would reduce the time used in the process of registration. This will eliminate the process of visitors repeating the registration process if they exit the premise and revisit it. Additionally, the visitors do not need to key their information at the reception. Apart from implementing the new system, the visitors’ information will be transmitted back to the firm’s back office immediately. This will save time used in the information recording. The new system will reduce the likelihood of mistakes. According to Carlborg, Kindström, and Kowalkowski (2013, p. 292), mistakes from the manual registration system is because of human error and handwriting. Hence, the new system, its effective data input, data collection and data transmission techniques will be computerized. This would enhance the accuracy and efficiency.

Another form of waste is duplication. Duplication is whereby an activity is repeated severally within a system (Hicks 2007, p. 234). In the traditional system, the visitors are required to key in their details on sheets. There is another firm assigned the duty of entering the same information into the computers. Therefore, similar data is keyed into different places repeatedly. Powell, Riezebos, and Strandhagen (2013, p. 396) point out that resource inefficiencies are whereby capital, materials or personnel are unnecessary, wasteful or not capitalized within the system. Reflecting on the firm’s old process, resource inefficiencies can be defined as employees’ waste. The firm has two security guards at the company hall to ensure that there is order. One guard is assigned the duty of opening the access path for all the visitors while the other keys all the details into the computers. The traditional process contributes to wastage of sheets for registration purposes. The online system will remove additional guards at the company’s hall.  The receptionists will receive visitors and guide them on how to use the touch screen, especially if they do not have ideas on how to operate the machine. This will eliminate one of the posts in the organization. The computerized process will ensure that all the necessary data are captured electronically. This will save on the paper sheets used. Therefore, the lean-management process eliminates wastes types and improves efficiency and speed.

The new process further involves employees, visitors, and receptionists of the visited firms. All visitors are required to fill the blanks marked as compulsory in the electronic registration forms.  Therefore, it is important for the hired receptionists to portray multi-skills. Instead of just welcoming the visitors, they will also have the responsibility of dealing with inquiries and guiding visitors. Additionally, due to the fact that all the access details will be transferred to the firms, all people working for the company will be involved directly. It is also recommendable for the Knight Frank Shanghai to train security guards on additional skills. This will enable them to handle other safety related activities (Näslund 2013, p. 91). Finally, the firm is striving for continuous enhancement using the lean management system. It takes advantage of the smooth flow of information to serve both visitors and tenants (Carlborg, Kindström & Kowalkowski 2013, p. 293). This will enable Knight Frank to manage the security of the building effectively.

From the literature review and the use of the lean management in the service industry, it is evident that the system is likely to develop in different ways in the next five years. This will include the combination of lean management and information technologies. Additionally, more service sectors will adapt lean management in their operations. Therefore, future research should be conducted in the mentioned sector.

The Proposal in Solving the Problem

The 5-Ss

Stentoft Arlbjørn and Vagn Freytag (2013, p. 177) argue that 5-S plays significant roles in the firm’s success. The 5-S entails standardize, shine, sort, sustain and straighten.  It is important for the Knight Shanghai to remove unnecessary guards that were first assigned the responsibility of manually registering visitors at the premises entrance.  The management should then consider delegating new tasks to them. This is referred to as sorting. All the registration terminals should be positioned at convenient places. They terminals should also have clear guide signs to direct visitors, with the intention of minimizing the receptionist’s workload. The process is called straightening. The guidelines on how to operate the machine should be not only simple but also clear so that visitors can use it accurately and with ease, and obtain the Access Card faster. This is the shine part of the lean management. The entire registration process should be uniform and neatly designed, and also necessary parts included ensuring that it is standardized. Lastly, it is important to encourage the Knight Frank Shanghai workers so that they can adhere to the new process. The benefits associated with utilizing the lean management practice should not only be highlighted but also promoted with the objective of developing pride and commitment through the firm. This will sustain all tenants based on the commercial premise.


Jidoka is defined as the practice for ensuring that there is quality at the source. The objective is to identify all errors in time (Carlborg, Kindström and Kowalkowski 2013, p. 294). Therefore, jidoka will be important for successful implementation of the new security system.  Even though it is possible to reduce human error by utilizing the computerized system, it can also results in shortcomings such as unexpected breakdowns. Therefore, it is important for the machine operators to conduct frequent inspections so that they can identify abnormal signs to ensure smooth flow of information as well as consistent performance. This will deter reoccurrence of all the mistakes. Shanghai Knight Frank should consider fundamental work practices to implement new solutions. It is recommendable for the firm to come up with disciplines that will ensure that all the employees are engaged in the entire process (Lisiecka & Burka 2016, p. 89). This will assist in enhancing the quality and integrity of the adopted security system.  The service provider should be more devoted not only to developing employees but also building their trust. The mentioned can be achieved via intensive training. For instance, guards of the firm previously used to maintain order and ensure access can be delegated other duties such as assisting tenants to tackle other safety issues that tenants might experience. Consequently, system operators should be effectively trained so that they can easily detect all errors. They should also be authorized to maintain the system. The action will enhance employees’ sense of responsibility, their decision-making skills and motivate them, so that they remain committed towards company’s success.


The lean management is included into the Knight Frank Shanghai with the objective of solving problems related to the firm’s security issues. The solution includes the lean management four principles. The security system is designed in a manner that visitors enjoy faster access to the building. It also features full involvement of the visitors, employees and other stakeholders. Lean management eliminates the key types of wastes associated with the service firms-mistakes, duplication, delays and resource inefficiencies. Therefore, the system encourages the firm to adopt various enhancements. The firm should implement the 5-S strategy. Another error detection approach known as jidoka is important for ensuring Knight Frank’s consistent performance. Moreover, it is significant for the organization to adopt a working practice in addition to gaining support of employees in the entire process. The adoption of the lean management makes Knight Frank Shanghai realize its core performance objectives namely; flexibility, speed, quality, cost, and dependability. It will also support the firm to build its brand. Therefore, application of lean management within the service industry is not only worthwhile but also feasible.



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Johnston, R., 2008. Internal service–barriers, flows and assessment. International journal of service industry management, 19(2), pp.210-231.

Knight Frank. n.d. About Knight Frank. [Online] Available at <http://www.knightfrank.com/about-us> [Accessed 24 Mar. 17]

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Stentoft Arlbjørn, J. and Vagn Freytag, P., 2013. Evidence of lean: a review of international peer-reviewed journal articles. European Business Review, 25(2), pp.174-205.


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