Google’s Operations Management Strategies
Google’s Operations Management Strategies
Google Limited Liability Company (LLC), also commonly known as Google, is an American multinational technology company based in 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, California (Google.com, n.d.). The company was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in September 1998. These two founders were by then Ph.D. students at Stanford University, California. Google operates as a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc., although it still maintains its current status as a fully owned corporation. Ever since it first entered the business world, Google has been widely recognized as a search engine specializing in offering products and services related to the internet. The company has also undergone significant growth in all aspects, including revenue and products and services portfolio. Presently, Google is among the top technology companies (Sela & Ben-Gal, 2018) that excels in multiple industries such as the internet, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, computer software, computer hardware, and advertising. The company provides its clients with over fifty products and services, with some of the most significant ones being Gmail, documents, cloud storage, blogger, Google translate, YouTube, maps, calendar, teleconferencing, online advertising, Android operating system, and Google Nexus devices, and Google Pixel smartphones (Google.com, n.d.).
Based on the recent key financial statistics of Google, it is apparent that this company has accumulated an immense amount of resources within a very short time. For instance, in 2020, the total value of Google’s assets was over $319 billion, while the total revenue was estimated to be more than $182 billion. On the other hand, the company’s net income for the same year was over $40 billion, and its operating income was $41 billion (Alphabet Inc. 2021).
Key Financial Statistics in 2020 ($ Billions)
Total Assets 319.616
Total Revenue 182.527
Net Income 40.269
Operating Income 41.224
Table 1. Google’s Key Financial Statistics 2020, Alphabet Inc. (2021)
Presently, Google is led by Sundar Pichai, who assumed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) position of the company in October 2015 (Google.com, n.d.). The company continues to feature in the annual list of the best companies to work for globally, indicating the attractive workplace culture that makes people want to work for it. Nevertheless, Google is guided by ten corporate principles that help ensure that it delivers the best possible products and services worldwide. Some of the most notable principles of the company include “Fast is better than slow,” “Focus on the user and all else will follow,” “You can be serious without a suit,” “Great just isn’t good enough,” and “It’s best to do one thing really, really well,” (Google.com, n.d.).
Analysis of Current Operations in the Company
Google operates through an exceptional management system that the organisation has progressively developed over the years. This management approach has helped the company focus on establishing its identity as an innovation and creative hub where great ideas are transformed into realistic products and services that serve the everyday needs of populations across the globe (Steiber & Alänge, 2013). The organization also boasts of an open communication system that allows free and easier communication among all members, regardless of one’s position in the company. In other words, Google does not have any real organisational hierarchy when it comes to information flow. Therefore, anyone is at liberty to talk to anyone in the workplace setting. The open communication mechanism facilitates a conducive work environment where employees focus more on pursuing their dreams and transforming them into realistic ideas with considerable monetary value. Google has demonstrated effective and efficient application of management strategies when it comes to facilitating its core business operations. In particular, the company has created and maintained a conducive workplace culture that encourages its employees to remain highly innovative and productive while handling their daily activities and tasks (Tran, 2017). This is the main reason behind the great successes the company has achieved since its establishment twenty-two years ago. This aspect of the organization can best be illustrated by exploring one of its key areas of operations management identified as quality management.
Quality management involves controlling and monitoring all the activities, operations, and tasks required to achieve and maintain a desirable level of productivity in an organization (Zeng et al., 2017). It incorporates establishing relevant quality policies, developing and implementing appropriate strategies that are useful in quality planning and assurance, and establishing and implementing quality control and improvement strategies. The primary purpose of the quality management system employed by Google is to ensure efficiency and consistency in all the company’s processes, including information flow, methods used, skills involved, and controls deployed, to achieve the highest possible productivity levels (Tran, 2017). This objective is facilitated by focusing on seven essential aspects, including focusing on customers, effective leadership, involving all the people, pursuing the process, promoting desired improvements continuously, making decisions based on evidence, and managing relationships within the organisation (Tricker, 2019). Each of these elements works together with the others for the greater good of the company.
Figure 1. Elements of Quality Management System
This element involves focusing on the needs and interests of its customers (Tricker, 2019). Google strives to demonstrate its commitment to quality and always values frequent customer feedback, both good and bad, as it helps it identify insufficiencies in its products and services and take prompt measures to improve them.
This element emphasises having strong management teams (Tricker, 2019). Google’s successes have been possible due to the strong leaders it has had for the past two decades. The company’s leaders have had a clear vision of the corporation’s future, shared the idea with other organisational teams, and given the entire company a shared sense of purpose. Furthermore, Google’s leadership also plays a vital role in boosting employee motivation and productivity.
Engagement of People
This third component involves getting the company’s workforce teams involved in the management system (Tricker, 2019). Google’s operations management system is not reserved for specific persons. Instead, everyone within the company contributes towards the success of its processes. The company encourages all employees to openly discuss issues and share knowledge and experience across all levels of the organisation. In this way, everyone at Google fully understands their individual and collective roles and feels valued for their respective contributions to the overall success of the corporation.
This element regards the creation of a process-driven culture within the organisation (Tricker, 2019). Google has proven over the years that it has a properly established means of ensuring that its various operational plans, resources, and processes are effectively and efficiently managed. Through this means, the organisation can manage the different areas of its business holistically and align its operations to achieve greater efficiency and achieve its objectives easily.
This element involves continually improving the organisation’s processes and activities (Tricker, 2019). Continual improvement is an essential factor and one of the core objectives of Google’s current quality management system. Implementing processes that identify potential risks and opportunities, solve insufficiencies, and monitor input assist in establishing ways to improve existing business processes even further.
This element of the quality management system involves using accurate and reliable facts and data to make informed decisions (Tricker, 2019). At Google, non-conformity issues in the products and services are usually addressed from their root cause using the right evidence from all the involved stakeholders. This aspect of the company is further enhanced by making information accessible to all and keeping all the proper communication channels always open.
The main focus of this element is developing mutually beneficial relationships with all the company’s stakeholders (Tricker, 2019), including owners, suppliers, workers, customers, authorities, and local communities, among other interest parties. In building trusting relationships with its various stakeholders, Google has greatly strengthened its competitive advantage, particularly by making short and long-term financial gains and adapting mutually beneficial strategies.
Contributions of Google’s Quality Management Programme
The quality management system employed by Google has contributed immensely to the operational efficiencies experienced by the company over the years. These efficiencies can be observed in various other areas of the company’s operations, including promoting the product order-winners and qualifiers, facilitating productive relationships with the other operations management areas, and strengthening working relationships with other business functions.
Product order-winners and qualifiers
Quality management strategies have ensured that the company enhances the characteristics and competitive advantages of the different products and services it produces. For instance, Google’s products and services are widely recognized for their exceptional quality, reliability, flexibility, and attractive designs (Christensen, Bartman & Bever, 2016). These attributes have made individuals readily willing to consume the company’s products and services. An excellent example of this trend is evident in Google’s Android product. Android’s flexibility and reliability (Mowad, Fathy & Hafez, 2014) have made the most preferred operating systems in various electronic product brands, including smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and television sets.
Relationships with the other operations management areas
Through its quality management strategies, Google has made it possible to establish and maintain productive relationships among all the various areas of operations management. For example, good relationships exist between quality management and other areas such as research and development, supply chain management, process and capacity development, human resources, and inventory management.
Relationships with other business functions
As a business organisation grows, its business operations also undergo substantial functional evolution. Thus, Google’s quality management strategy has helped foster good relationships among business functions, including production, marketing, human resources, and finance, by facilitating effective and efficient operations management strategies. This move helps prevent potential glitches, such as errors and insufficiencies in products and services, from occurring during the production process.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Google’s Quality Management System
Google’s quality management system has enabled the organisation to benefit significantly from establishing a culture of quality within its workplace settings. Every new and existing employee of the company knows what is expected of them while working for this organisation. They know that they have to show their level best in what they are assigned to do, whether it is coding, testing new codes, or offering customer care services. This continuous quality culture has helped the company avoid incurring unnecessary costs associated with project or process failures when producing new products and services (Tran, 2017).
Additionally, the application of quality management strategies in the operations of Google enables the company to focus on achieving its long-term successes. The method allows the company to involve all its workforce members across all organizational levels to work as a team towards developing exceptional products and services that meet the demands an expectations of its clients (Abuhav, 2017). Through this means, Google can create the best possible customer experience and satisfaction.
The main weakness of quality management strategies used by Google is their high dependency on organization-wide commitment to achieve quality improvement. In essence, this quality management programme requires that all levels of the company’s management be involved in every activity or process of the organisation (Abuhav, 2017). This aspect is considered a significant weakness in the company’s current operations management approach due to the increasing difficulty of realizing this high level of commitment, especially during this time of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Another weakness associated with the current quality management programme at Google relates to the company’s decision-making structure. The quality management approach used by Google is often time-consuming, especially when it comes to decision-making and disseminating information through the organisation. For instance, Google operates under a decentralised management system, making it relatively challenging for the members to always reach a consensus when making essential operations decisions (Sivabalan, Wakefield & Sawyers, 2018). In some situations, input from other members might lead to internal conflicts instead of agreement. The problem is sometimes worsened when there is a shift in management or the introduction of recruits as they strive to adjust to their new workplace settings.
Opportunities for Improving Operations
Based on the information presented in the discussions above, it is apparent that Google as a company still has more potential opportunities for improvements in its current operations management. This improvement could be achieved through the implementation of the following proposals:
Redefine Working Hours
Presently, Google has no real fixed working hours. Instead, employees are allowed the freedom to work on their projects and tasks when they are at the workstations (Tran, 2017). Even though this strategy gives employees more authority to manage their time and work at their most productive moments, it sometimes leads to a lack of urgency to work and poor time management. Thus, the company needs to consider this area as a possible avenue for introducing the desired changes.
Facilitate Full-Circle Training and Development Programmes
Personnel training is essential in an organization as it ensures that the workforce possesses relevant knowledge and skills needed at the workplace. However, for Google to get the best possible outcome out of its employees, it needs to structure its training and development programmes to enable the management to measure the actual outcome of the process for effectiveness. It is not enough to take employees through a training programme without determining whether learning or skill development took place and by how much.
Promote Employee External Interactions
Google’s workplace settings are known to contain all the essential facilities and amenities that support the everyday lives of its employees. For instance, the company’s headquarters in Mountain View has extra facilities such as a shopping complex, restaurant, gymnasium, and swimming pool, which allow workers to live and spend their time off work without necessarily having to leave the office area (Tran, 2017). This situation encourages employees to limit most of their lives within the office areas, thus, presenting a possibility for improvement.
Adopt Total Quality Management System
Above all things, Google needs to fully implement a total quality management system as part of its operations management system to strengthen the current quality management strategies. The total quality management system comprises of three core principles of customer focus, total involvement, and process involvement (Dahlgaard, Khanji & Kristensen, 2008). These principles focus on achieving the ultimate objective of continuous improvement of the organisation’s operations, thereby promoting its capability to produce high-quality products and services.
Figure 2. Total Quality Management System (TQM)
This principle involves giving the customer priority in every process or activity of the company. It emphasises customer satisfaction as one of the key measures of success of the company’s operations, products, and services (Dahlgaard, Khanji & Kristensen, 2008). For this reason, the organisation may use strategies such as inviting the public to conduct pre-tests and trials of some of its new products and services before they are officially released in the market for use.
This principle of total quality management emphasises the total involvement of all members of the organisation in the company’s operational processes. All employees are always actively involved in all the stages involved in creating new products and services (Dahlgaard, Khanji & Kristensen, 2008).
According to the theory of total quality management, quality issues in the products and services that a company creates are often caused by problems in the processes and not the people (Tarí, 2005). Thus, continually reviewing the operational processes is critical in ensuring that the company creates excellent products and services that would improve customer satisfaction and experience (Dahlgaard, Khanji & Kristensen, 2008).
Generally, a well-implemented total management system involves a cycle of four fundamental stages, including plan, do, review, and act (Lodgaard & Aasland, 2011). These stages employ specific activities that must be carried out to achieve continuous improvement in the organisation’s operations and productions, as shown in Figure 3 bel
Figure 3. Quality Management Process Cycle
Analysis of Potential Impacts of Implementing the Proposals
The proposed changes in the current operations management of Google focus on improving the functional abilities of the employees, which will translate to significant enhancement of the current operating systems of the company. Once successfully implemented, the proposals would have far-reaching implications on Google’s current operations. The impacts of the proposals would be felt in the various aspects of the company’s operations, including the following:
Products and Services
Implementing the proposals would contribute to enhanced service and product design, reengineering product and service processes, improved production capacity of products and services, service/product quality, and service/product prices. In essence, ensuring high-quality standards in the company’s various products and services will help it avoid incurring unnecessary costs associated with loss of market segment, reduced brand equity, and frequent recalls resulting from insufficiencies in design, and production errors (Zeng et al., 2017).
Continually strengthening the company’s production processes will help it improve on cost-efficiency, build and maintain a considerable market share, and respond promptly to presenting opportunities in the market. Research has established that a company that invests in quality management efforts benefits from a cost reduction of up to $16 and increased profits of $3 for every $1 investment (Pulakanam, 2012). For these benefits to occur, the company must have properly developed and implemented quality management strategies. Therefore, adopting the proposals would significantly transform its business model, strengthen its competitive advantage, image, and market positioning, improve its efficiency and productivity, and boost its overall financial performance.
Increased focus on improving the knowledge and skills of workers would readily translate to significant enhancement in their levels of innovativeness to create high-quality products and services (Kyrgidou & Spyropoulou, 2013). Besides, putting the customers first in all the production programs of the company, as well as involving the public in the creation projects, also helps ensure that what is finally released in the market fully meets the demands and expectations of the target populations (Pulakanam, 2012). Through this means, Google would be in a better position to satisfy the needs of its customers, thereby improving customer experience and loyalty to its brands. This will also help increase their willingness to pay for whatever the company makes.
Implementation of the proposals in the company would bring about more suitable changes in the company’s human resources department. For instance, Google would experience an improvement in the required knowledge and skills among its employees, considering that they would be receiving holistic training and development (Tarí, 2005). Additionally, there would be advancements in employees’ welfare through increased focus on the well-being of all workers. All these expected changes would bring about significant transformations in the current human resource management of the company.
Adopting the proposed changes would contribute towards improved sustainability of the company’s operations in several ways. In particular, they would help ensure a continuous improvement in the operational processes to address the causes of the inherent faults within the tools, techniques, and designs that significantly impact the company’s productivity (Tricker, 2019). Revenue and overall market share then increase due to enhanced products and services quality, improved customer satisfaction, and widened market share. Additionally, encouraging employees to participate in events and activities outside the office area, such as participating in community development projects, would contribute to enhanced corporate social responsibility (Pulakanam, 2012).
Safety and Security Issues
The proposal primarily emphasises promoting the welfare of the employees and streamlining the company’s production processes. This includes offering them all the necessary technical and structural support that they require to remain highly productive in their various activities. Further, the management of Google would be assured that all their employees know exactly what is expected of them, how they are supposed to conduct themselves while in their various workstations, and comprehensively understand how to respond to emergencies in the workplace. Through this means, adopting the proposed changes would help reduce or eliminate any potential safety or security threat in the company.
In implementing the proposals, Google would be providing its employees more opportunities for personal and professional development they need and offering them highly competitive compensation in the market. This move helps ensure that the company has a management system that is employee-oriented, focusing on uplifting each person to attain the highest possible personal health and well-being. Through this means, Google would ensure that it emphases more on boosting the welfare of the workers instead of exploiting them.
Programme for the Implementation of the Proposed Changes
From the analysis of Google’s current operations management strategies, several opportunities for improvement have been identified to facilitate further improvements in the company’s operation system. In particular, the potential changes that should be implemented as part of this change are redefining working hours, facilitating full-circle training and development programmes, promoting external employee interactions, and adopting a total quality management system. These changes involve implanting specific activities that would eventually be used to determine the effectiveness of these processes in producing the desired improvements in the organisation’s operation system. The following programme outlines the key steps that should be taken that in order to successfully implement the proposed changes in the organisation.
Since the proposed changes in the programme focus on further enhancing employees’ welfare, minimal resistance to change is expected from the various company’s stakeholders. However, a significant demonstration of resistance is likely to arise from the management of Google. In particular, the company’s managers are likely to resist changes that might cause substantial alterations in the everyday operations of the organisation. This resistance would be mainly influenced by the need to avoid the uncertainties in the management system and increased anxiety among the workforce that is often associated with internal changes. Thus, managers would prefer maintaining the status quo in the company’s operational processes (Chiu et al., 2020). In order to encounter this resistance, it would be essential to convince the management about the necessity for implementing such changes. This would include inviting a human resources expert to inform the managers about the evolutions in the workplace setting that require suitable changes in the organisation’s management strategies (Harmon, 2010). In this way, the management would get all the valuable facts and insights that would help them make informed decisions regarding their support of the proposed changes.
The Gantt chart presented here provides an outline of the critical activities of the programme that would be involved in introducing the proposed changes in the company. The presentation also highlights the proposed timeframes for the implementation of the identified activities, as well as the job positions that would be responsible for implementing the changes. The various company leaders who would serve as the agents for these changes would be Executive Management, Human Resources, Supervisors, and Departmental Managers/Directors. The change process is expected to occur over a duration of four months, starting from the formation of the programme team to the maintenance of the proposed changes in the company’s management system.
Activities Implementation Timeframe
Week 1-2 Week 3-4 Week 5-6 Week 7-8 Week 9-10 Week 11-16
Programme Team Selection Executive Management
Vision & Strategy Change Manager
Implementation of change deliverables:
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