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1.2.1 Target dates

The overall plan will indicate the start dates for each group of activities, or each task. A useful way of focusing activities on achieving outcomes is to provide clear dates for completion of stages and of final outcomes. If there are a number of different types of team, these may start and finish tasks at different times. Where the work of one team depends on another having completed in time, there are important issues to consider. Although a good control system will provide information abo
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All ot
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4.1 The boundary of the operations system

The simple transformation model in Figure 1 provides a powerful tool for looking at operations in many different contexts. It helps us to analyse and design operations in many types of organisation at many levels.

This model can be developed by identifying the boundaries of the operations system through which an organisation's goods or services are provided to its customers or clients. Author(s): The Open University

2.2.1 Craft manufacturing

Craft manufacturing describes the process by which skilled craftspeople produce goods in low volume, with a high degree of variety, to meet the requirements of their individual customers. Over the centuries, skills have been transmitted from masters to apprentices and journeymen, and controlled by guilds. Craftspeople usually worked at home or in small workshops. Such a system worked well for small-scale local production, with low levels of competition. Some industries, such as furniture manu
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2.4.1 Five key ideas about systems

Systems thinking will enable you to analyse complex issues in an illuminating way. It takes a whole (or holistic) view of a situation.

When you think of a system, bear in mind the following five ideas:

  1. Everything in a system is connected The elements of a system are interconnected. The members of a department or a voluntary group constitute a system. There are connections between the members. A system can comprise people, material objects,
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1.6.1 The example

Suppose that a couple who have children are thinking about the next family holiday. They list five options, including staying at home. They also list four criteria and they give each an importance weighting on a scale of 1 to 5, where 5 is the most important and 1 is the least important.

The evaluation matrix would look like Author(s): The Open University

1.4 Bar charts

A bar chart is another way of presenting data. It is designed to show frequency distribution, for example, the number of staff in each of four categories in an organisation. You could present the data given in Table 6 in a bar chart as shown in Author(s): The Open University

4 Summary

This unit looked at the question of whether the financial markets are efficient in the sense that prices demanded are fair and reflect all known and relevant information about investments. The Efficient Markets Hypothesis defines such efficiency at three levels, depending on how much information is in fact incorporated into prices. The weak form states merely that the current price already reflects all information incorporated into previous prices, so that each successive price move is a reac
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4.3 Net present value

If the NPV is positive, then the aggregate present value of the future cash flows is greater than the price to be paid for the investment today, so the investment is cheap and offers an excess return. If the NPV is negative, then the price to be paid today is greater than the present value of the future cash flows; the investment is therefore overpriced and does not offer an adequate return. If the NPV is zero, we can say the investment is fairly priced by the market.

All significant fi
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2.1 Looking at each of the possible alternative outcomes

Investment risk is synonymous with uncertainty of outcome, so it is logical to try to quantify risk by looking at the relative uncertainty, or probability, of each of the possible alternative outcomes.

Suppose that we are interested in investing in the shares of Company X, and want to know:

  • What is the mean or average expected total return for the next year?

  • What is the degree of risk or uncertainty in this mean figure?


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7.5 Materials costs

There will be many categories of materials, supplies and consumables used in a project. Once again, the materials that are in constant use and easily and ‘freely’ available in an organisation might be overlooked in costing the project. For example, it is easy to assume that stationary will be available in much the same way as it is for day-to-day work. However, a project is a bounded activity, and if you are to understand the full cost of achieving the outcomes, you will need to know how
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4 Identifying deliverables

The project brief will identify the goals of the project and may express some of these as key objectives. At an early stage of planning you will need to identify all of the project objectives and the deliverables that are implied or required from each objective.

Each objective will identify a clear outcome. The outcome is the deliverable. In some cases, the outcome will be some sort of change achieved and in other cases it will be the production of something new. In either case, the pro
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4.7 T is for Timeliness

The date when information was produced or published can be an important aspect of quality. This is not quite as simple as saying that 'good' information has to be up to date.

Activity

Here is an example of a news item from an onli
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3.3 Books and electronic books

Books are a good source of information. The publishing process (where a book is checked by an editor before publishing, and often reviewed by another author) means that books are reliable sources of information, although they may need to be evaluated for bias.

To find out about other books available in your subject area, you can search library catalogues and/or online bookshops.

Some useful links can be found on the Author(s): The Open University

1.5 Organising information

How confident are you that you know when it is appropriate to cite references (refer to the work of other people) in your written work?

  • 5 – Very confident

  • 4 – Confident

  • 3 – Fairly confident

  • 2 – Not very confident

  • 1 – Not confident at all

How confident do you feel about producing bibliographies (lists of references) in an appropriate format to accompany you
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1.1 Assessing your current level of knowledge

If you explore all the resources and activities in this unit, you might need to allow between two and nine hours to complete it.

Before you read this guide, why not use the self-assessment questions on the following screens to rate your current level of knowledge?

Print or save these questions and for each question, mark the most appropriate number on the scale. When you have finished, you can review your answers. A score of three of less might indicate a gap in your know
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2.1 Early beginnings – From magic to medicine

The life sciences sector, and its precursor the pharmaceutical industry, has a long and rich history. Pharmaceuticals, which are defined as compounds manufactured for use as medicinal drugs (remedies), date back to 2735 BC and the Chinese Dynasty of Shen Nung. Their development can be traced through ancient Hindu, Egyptian and Mediterranean civilisations. The word ‘pharmaceutical’ originates from the Greek pharmakon, meaning ‘drug’. In t
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Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this unit:


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6 Agreeing fees

At first sight, consultancy fees can appear astronomical, but they need to cover fairly substantial overheads. A critical reader commented:

When I worked as an associate director for an HR consultancy it was the practice to charge out consultants’ time for up to four times their salary. But in addition to earning fees, I spent time marketing, building client relationships, managing accounts, selling (sometimes to
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