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Dissertation Methodology Sample

Methodology and Method

 Philosophical  Stance

It is important to realise that most of the current information about procurement consultants contained within the literature review used for this dissertation, is based on the premise that these are procurement consultants who mostly work on a business management consultancy basis.

(Cassidy 2005)  By this they are working for clients who require consultants who have both procurement and business accruement and knowledge. The fact that information about procurement consultants as a separate entity is harder to find, as much of the research literature which has been done in the past has been concentrated around that of the business management consultancy arena.

This very fact leaves the information about the particular sector of procurement consultants open to interpretation and, as such, this dissertation has tried to show that further investigation on the question of whether a procurement consultant is a means to an end may need to be considered by others.(Selden 2005)

Method

To help achieve some form of consensus in answering the main question. That of whether procurement consultants are a means to an end. The following methodology has been considered and rejected as a possible means of achieving this.

The use of a large scale questionnaire being sent to some 500 – 1000 global organisations, would have taken far too long to undertake and the cost of such would have been very expensive.  It would also be very time consuming in terms of the initial decision on the type of questions to be asked to receiving back and evaluating the replies.( )

As most people are aware procurement covers all industries, after all someone has to buy something, so that an organisation can sell it. ( ) Each of the organisations in each industry sector will have their own specific requirements.

Any large scale response would or should indicate this. Expanding on the choice of which organisations to use and the selecting of relevant questions, would readily represent the answer on the primary question of whether procurement consultants are a means to an end. This would also produce a better final result.

Since the dissertation is asking the question of whether procurement consultants are a means to an end, it proposes to interview a selected number of people who have the responsibility for employing them. It will also obtain information from the consultant themselves and evaluate and extrapolate the responses.

From these replies it will ascertain a 360 degree view of what each party requires from one another and what can be gained from the employment of a procurement consultant.( )

The answers received from the interviewees should show that there could be a need for a much larger scale interview or questionnaire.

 The way forward

Now once we have entered the mainstream of the topic we have to see how and what sort of methodology we will implement in our study.

Research design/paradigm:

In this very study we would conduct a  two-stage research design. First, in-depth personal interviews would be conducted from concerned people of different organisations. These interviews would off course be from organisations and people which are users of consulting services.

The second stage involves a cross-sectional survey of purchasers of a broad range of business advisory services. This includes both private as well as public purchasers.

It is always a good and effective measure to have employee and customer survey and interviews as a tool for analyzing organizational management weather it is related to procurement consultancy or any other thing.

In a recent assessment of a large, global IT organization, Compass would be reviewed  existing customer and employee satisfaction surveys, and  100 IT and administrative managers, sales representatives, account managers, and line managers in areas such as finance and human resources would be interviewed.

While qualitative in nature, the interviews  will take place in ten global offices structured and focused on decision processes.

The interview process should be designed to identify the processes in place, explore how well they are working, and understand where and how bottlenecks in decision-making arise.

Employees can provide unique insights into problems and difficulties – such as, for example, the obstacles presented by endless meetings of various steering committees that never seem to resolve a problem and how consulting different problems can help them.

A Complementary Approach

Fact-based, quantifiable measures complemented by qualitative insights enable a thorough analysis of what parts of the organization are being managed well, in terms of IT efficiency, administration, and adherence to established processes.

Opportunities to improve various aspects of managerial and administrative performance can also be identified.

This comprehensive approach to organizational analysis goes beyond the simplistic approach of identifying excess overhead and reducing headcount by x percent. Rather, it becomes possible to focus on true improvement – whether that involves adding or reducing management or staff, or changing work processes, or changing decision-making processes.

For example, a proper analysis could identify that too much overhead exists in an organization – but with widely differing underlying causes. In one instance, an organization could have too many people in support processes, due to inefficiencies in process design and inefficiencies in execution.

In another case, poor customer relations could lead to a perceived overhead, in the sense that customers question the value they receive from IT.

In the first instance, the solution may be a relatively straightforward reduction in the number of people involved in certain processes. In the second, however, new and different skills may be needed to improve the perception of customers regarding the value of IT services.

SAMPLE QUESTIONNARE:

We will have a set of selective questions to be asked from the Organisation and selected persons using the procurement services.

  1. What do you believe about procurement consulting as a means to an end?
  2. How do you deal with your customers interested in procurement consulting?
  3. What are the different business and financial areas in which people are interested to have procurement consultancy?
  4. Does procurement consultancy in private sector differ from that in public sector?

Supposed Findings  and Observations

It was found that the procurement process of consulting services in the public sector differs significantly from that of private companies. Further analyses indicate that purchasers from public and private organizations are equally satisfied with the results of consulting services.

More than 60% of the organisations and people believed that procurement consultants play a significant role especially in business and economics field.

According to majority of people modern corporate management recognizes the importance of procurement function in an organization.  When asked about the positive effects of the procurement consultants role it was assumed that today, the emphasis being on lean organizations and cost-effectiveness, procurement has suddenly assumed significance.

With pressures of global competitiveness rising, purchasing executives must understand the relation between organizational structure and operational performance and accordingly devise the procurement strategies.

Not only this but the people using procurement services also said that more than just a tactical activity, procurement plays a key strategic role in business today. Companies are  using procurement as a way to reduce costs and increase shareholder value should carefully consider all the issues – and avoid the potential pitfalls  related to the procurement process.

One worth mentioning thing here is that organisations effectively using procurement services believe that cutting procurement costs increases earnings. A simple premise. A powerful statement.

To elevate a procurement operation to a new level of efficiency and effectiveness, however, companies need to follow some basic rules. Some of these are: create expense categories, analyze expenditures, champion strategic sourcing, use technology strategically etc.

According to our interview replies it was analysed that the accumulation of knowledge contributes to the competitive advantage of firms. In the strategy consulting industry, one of the most knowledge-intensive professional services industries, however, established firms that exploited their knowledge accumulation by adding exploitative consulting practices have found their performance has deteriorated.

A worth mentioning thing here is that when looking at the assignment that is to be done by the consultants, many organisations stakeholders, shareholders etc. would ask if they are going to be providing value for money.

They need to know whether the consultants have the skills and background required and if there sufficient consultancy supply in the market place to undertake the assignment.

One solid observation which we observed was that Consultants face tremendous challenges in attempting to work for the public sector. Some of these difficulties result from the reasons consultants are sought and from the manner in which consultants are used. Consultants seek to do the best job possible.

The probability of this occurring depends upon the consultant and the public agency having a better understanding of each other’s needs and constraints

 Qualitative analysis from the study

The potential benefits listed by the business and the companies from small businesses are in practice substantially achieved, over a wide range of procurement.

Especially conspicuous, across a wide range of markets, is the ability and willingness of small firms to “go the extra mile”, in terms of commitment and service delivery.

One thing important to mention here is that  however explicit monetary valuation of such quality benefits is rarely if ever practicable; and there appears to be little prospect of developing quantitative rules of thumb for procurers on “the benefits of using small businesses”.

The need is for competence in procurement policies and individual procurements, to recognise fully the value of small businesses as suppliers and how best to use them.

Procuring from a small firm can expose the procurer to extra risk, especially for a crucial project. Procurer competence is needed both to ensure that this risk is not over- or underestimated and to devise measures to reduce any such risk where appropriate.

Measures to increase competition by increasing small business participation can be effective in a wide range of procurement markets. However this too requires procurer competence, and may be resource intensive.

Although the relative strengths of small businesses are similar across many fields, the optimal scope for their contribution varies from zero to 100 per cent.

The effectiveness of procurement practices, and of policy initiatives to promote small businesses is not therefore well suited to analytically based targets (as distinct from temporary targets to motivate change in some areas in a particular direction). Practice in each field of

procurement needs to be assessed on its own merits, case by case, and by comparisons across procurers and sectors.

The lack of comprehensive monitoring data on the use of small businesses is disappointing, despite efforts by SBS and Treasury to improve data collection.

There appears to be some lack of analytical input to government procurement, to support the very considerable administrative input. There are many issues on which objective and authoritative analysis might strengthen advice on procurement on issues relevant to small businesses, and to improve consistency with other areas, such as the handling of employment and environmental impacts.

Our study of  e Auctions suggests that, at least for large contracts, they do not discriminate against small businesses. However there appears to be scope for more development of the handling of quality in eAuctions, and the associated impact on ongoing customer-client relationships.

This above pie diagram is some thing which we observed and analysed from the interviews conducted during our research process, The coloured scale represents the different fields and arenas in which people use the consultancy.

Science, informatics and business related fields have much more to do with th procurement consultancy.

Research limitations/implications

The results of the study indicate that public sector organizations may need to develop new buying skills in market management, specification, competitive process, negotiation regulation and monitoring.

Practical implications

The study suggests that a more high-level management involvement is needed, recognizing the importance of the procurement function within the public sector and supporting highly trained staff in implementing strategic procurement initiatives.

Originality/value

The study provides unique insights on how consulting services are purchased in the public sector as well as in the private sector. Furthermore, the study illustrates which purchase practices explain the satisfaction level of purchasers of consulting services.

 

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