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Guest Post: Tying Scheduling Back to Operations Strategy in Your Course

March 7, 2013

steve harrodDr. Steven Harrod is Assistant Professor of Operations Management at the University of Dayton and can be reached at

For those of you including Chapter 15, Short-Term Scheduling, in your syllabus, here is a great way to tie that topic back to the beginning of your course and to Chapter 2, Operations Strategy in a Global Environment. A significant topic in Chapter 15 is “Sequencing Jobs”, which is a logical extension to Module D– Waiting-Line Models.

In class, I work out three fundamental queue disciplines: first come first serve (FCFS), shortest processing time (SPT), and earliest due date (EDD). Following Example 5 from Chapter 15 of the Heizer/Render text, I walk my class through the solution of these three sequences using a custom worksheet that you may obtain online by clicking here.

I ask the students to recall the three competitive advantages of Chapter 2 (low-cost, differentiation, and response), and how sometimes it is unclear which competitive advantage applies. For example, does McDonald’s pursue a low-cost or differentiation strategy?

I then ask the students to label each sequencing rule by the competitive advantage it best aligns with. Clearly, EDD best supports response, because it most respects the timeliness of delivery. Then I impress upon the students how SPT leads to low-cost competitive advantage (WIP, flowtime). Finally, I assert that FCFS is a differentiation strategy, because it enforces social justice in the service pattern, and thus seeks to make each customer feel valued and unique. Viewed from the way in which they queue their customers, it then becomes obvious that McDonald’s pursues a low-cost strategy, Wendy’s pursues a differentiation strategy, and Domino’s pursues a response strategy.

I close this lecture by impressing on students how choices in Operations Management effectively dictate the strategic competitive advantage of the firm. Firms must align their stated strategy and their operating rules to each other, or else be perpetually in a mode of crisis and confusion.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jay Heizer permalink
    March 7, 2013 3:55 am

    Steven, A very creative approach to a strategy element for the chapter. We try to bring a strategy element into each chapter, but we have not used this approach. Maybe in the next edition. Thanks. Jay Heizer

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