The internal environment of a firm is easily as complex as the external environment, but the data is easier to access. Primary activities tend to have the most interaction with the customers and are considered “front line” activities because of that direct engagement. Support activities tend to be more administrative in nature, and can sometimes be undervalued because a direct link to revenue is often indiscernible.
Name 2 support activities that are vital to a company where you work or a firm in an industry that interests you, and explain their impact on primary activities. How do the support activities add value to the primary activities and what direct result is evident? Why would support activities get overlooked or downplayed during strategic planning, and how could that be prevented?
A SWOT analysis allows us to analyze the internal environment in relation to the external environment. One starts by listing Strengths and Weaknesses of the company (both internal) and then by listing Opportunities and Threats (both external). When placed on a grid with the strengths and weaknesses along the side and the Opportunities and Threats along the top, there is room in the middle to see how one affects the other. For example, where Strengths and Opportunities intersect, one considers how a firm’s strengths can help it take advantage of the external opportunities listed.
Find current financial statements online for a Fast-food restaurant of your choice. Create a SWOT analysis, listing 5 Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Be sure that information from the financial statements are informing one or more of the strengths and/or weaknesses you have identified. Then describe how the internal strengths can help the restaurant take advantage of one or more of the opportunities you have listed. How can the strengths help mitigate one or more of the threats listed? How might the weaknesses hinder the restaurant from taking advantage of the Opportunities? How could the weaknesses exacerbate the threats?
Leveraging Human Capital
Intellectual assets are intangible, but their effect on the market value of a company cannot be overstated. One aspect of human capital your textbook discusses is the role of technology in leveraging knowledge and human capital. Consider all the ways knowledge is developed and communicated in businesses today: Face-to-face meetings, brainstorming sessions, virtual meetings, informal networking sessions, emails, knowledge deposits in shared drives, hallway conversations, phone calls, communication platforms…and the list goes on!
Consider the effectiveness (how well knowledge is developed and communicated) and the efficiency (least amount of time and cost involved) of communication in your workplace. Is the use of technology helping or hindering the creation and communication of knowledge? Choose one method of communication commonly used and evaluate if more or less technology would improve the effectiveness and/or efficiency of the communication as relates to knowledge development and dissemination. For example, if your workplace holds many face to face meetings, would virtual meetings cut down on time? Would they be as effective? Or would cutting the number of emails in half by phoning or meeting a person more often hinder or help the effectiveness? Would it save money (work hours)? You can choose any communication method you wish, but you must include an evaluation of both the effectiveness and the efficiency of the development and communication of knowledge using the current method and using a different method.
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