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Development of operations

management in Pakistan
Abdul Raouf
GIK Institute of Engineering and Technology, Topi, Swabi, NWFP,
Pakistan is one of the developing countries. It stands in need of developing and
improving its technological capability. Technological capability may be
considered as a composition of three different capabilities, i.e. production,
investment and innovation.
Production capability is the ability to operate production facilities,
investment capacity is needed to upgrade the existing production facilities or
establishing new production facilities, and innovation capabilities is concerned
with the developing technologies.
More than 85 per cent of the manufacturing companies in Pakistan can be
classified as small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The remaining companies
are branches of multinationals and their affiliates.
Large companies generally are aware of the fact that operations management
involves the greatest portion of the companyâ s employees and is concerned with
a large portion of the companyâ s assets. It has a major impact on quality,
customer services, product delivery and enhancing the customer interaction
effectiveness. To be an effective competitor they have to improve continuously
the operating efficiencies and the quality of goods. To achieve these objectives
they are using some basic aspects of operations management approach.
Usually, cost reduction and quality improvement are emphasized by these
companies. For cost reduction, typical techniques of work measurement are
utilized. For production planning they usually rely on experience and are
concerned with workable solutions only. Inventory control and material
management-related activities are conducted, but it definitely needs a fresh
More and more emphasis is placed on quality and to obtaining ISO 9000
certification. It certainly is a remarkable incentive for these companies to loo
k at
their entire system in terms of total quality management
For the SMEs in Pakistan the type of â capabilityâ most demanded is
production capability. SMEs are feeling a constant need to keep up with the
current level of technology in a rapidly changing technological environment,
thus making it essential for them to identify and apply more advanced
technologies. These companies feel that to acquire production capability they
must have the technical manpower needed. Most of the SMEs are establishing
production capability through reverse engineering of higher technologies.
Companies in this category experience a shortage of trained manpower for
International Journal of Operations
& Production Management,
Vol. 18 No. 7, 1998, pp. 649-650,
© MCB University Press, 0144-3577
reverse engineering and they find it very difficult, if not impossible, to have
trained and experienced manpower.
Most of the SMEs have insufficient funds, low technological capabilities,
outdated production factors and non-competitive products. Such companies are
only concerned with the critical problems for survival, such as marketing and
financing for operation costs. These companies, by and large, have not started
tackling their problems through integrated approaches which target not only
certain areas but all related factors.
Our experience has shown that in Pakistan a typical customer determines
quality of a product either by price, a known brand name or its appearance,
basing their decision to buy a product on its price, appearance or word-ofmouth.
For promoting quality of their products, manufacturers resort to
inspection and measurement and by promoting its brand name. These
companies aim to have profit-related performance and exploitation of
customers. These companies virtually have no investment in human training.
Short-term incentives to workers are provided rather than having a sustained
emphasis on their motivation.
There are very few persons who are performing operations management
related functions and have a formal education in this field. We have world-class
universities offering business-oriented programs, but they are mainly offering
finance and marketing-related options. The engineering universities are not
offering programs in industrial/system engineering which could have provided
needed manpower in the operations management field.
At GIK Institute, formal courses pertaining to operation management and
management sciences are offered as options in the Faculty of Mechanical
Engineering. We do offer short courses to equip managers with the latest
techniques and development in this field. We have currently, in collaboration
with Chamber of Commerce, undertaken a project to identify the barriers that
are responsible for the current state of affairs. Once these barriers have been
identified, ways and means for overcoming these will be studied and corrective
action taken. Our Government has started many programs for assisting
manufacturers in developing their efficiency and reducing costs. We have to
wait to see the results of this effort.