PROJECT MANAGEMENT

1.1 Introduction

Completion of projects

In recent times, the successful completion of projects has been faced by new dynamics and complexities such as huge capital investments, stakeholder interests, quality standards requirements, and customer expectations. These changes have necessitated a shift from the traditional approaches of project management to new strategies to ensure that projects succeed (Olasupo, Ibrahim & Gazal 2012). Arguably, the long-established processes of managing projects have largely been lacking the external cooperation and iterative cycles that are essential in today’s project environment (Totten 2017). Notably, the previous measurement of a project’s success has been based on unit costing, product performance, and the duration between a product’s conception and its market availability (Tatikonda and Rosenthal 2000). Research studies have indicated that the quality of an enterprise can be determined by the triangle of project management whose features include time, scope, and cost (Drury-Grogan (2014). The traditional processes used in project management face a myriad of challenges, including inadequate measures of ensuring project flexibility, customer dissatisfaction, extra reworks, and technological changes that might lead to project failure (Serrador & Pinto 2015). To overcome these problems, project managers are increasingly adopting Agile Project Management (APM) methodologies.  

The APM techniques

The APM techniques have been used in the information technology industry especially in the development of information systems, but have increasingly found applicability in non-IT and non-software sector. It has been noted that “Agile thinking, production and project management has evolved since 1990 as a response to the gains made in Japanese industries since their restructuring after the Second World War” (Owen and Koskela 2006, p. 22).Agile Project Management involves the use of iterative methods to plan and guide a project in small sections known as iterations to its completion as shown in figure 1 below. It is important to note that the APM methodologies are the most popular and fastest growing components in information technology project management, and using these techniques can determine whether a project succeeds or fails. According to Vandersluis (2014), the developers of agile thinking envisioned that this concept was to find applicability outside the confines of the IT industry hence its use in a wide range of enterprise projects, including mergers, finance systems, relocation of offices, travel, and construction.

Fig 1: Traditional vs Agile Software Development (Hany, Wells & Smyth 2015)

APM techniques provide the necessary tools used by members of a project team to address any emerging issues during the project life cycle. It is important that crucial changes to an enterprise are made in a timely manner so as to save resources and ensure that it is completed on time and within the budgetary allocations. Several factors affect the success of a given project, including weakness in the team structure, lack of skills, goals that are not well defined, and lack of top management support (Drury-Grogan 2014).These factors can be effectively addressed by use of APM methodologies. For instance, information technology experts have deployed agile strategies in software development to mitigate emerging challenges, including high costs, low productivity, project unpredictability, and recurrent changes that face software development (Mishra & Mishra 2011). Agile Project Management techniques streamlines project operations by enhancing flexibility and iterative cycles aimed at improving project quality, timing, and cost reduction (Conforto et al. 2014). Arguably, an agile project team is one that responds appropriately to changes in customer and stakeholder preferences so as to produce quality products for a particular market (Conforto 2016). Agile methodologies help teams to break down projects into sections that are worked on in sessions that span the entire process, including designing, testing, and quality assurance.

The agile and traditional project

The agile and traditional project management processes are premised on comparable practices and principles that are geared towards the delivery of measurable outcomes. The traditional project approach is a cascading process that “presumes that the requirements, expectations, duration, activities and outcomes of projects can be predicted accurately and planned in a sequence before any actual development activity takes place” (Murat 2016, p. 1). However, the downside of this approach is that testing of a product can only be done after the project is completed, a time when it might be discovered that the functionality of the product is flawed (Murat 2016). In this regard, APM allows teams to release segments of the project as soon as they are completed. The nonstop release timelines enable teams to determine the success of these segments and to fix any project errors as quickly as possible. The continuous improvement undertaken throughout the life cycle of a project is geared towards minimization of large-scale failures.APM allows project teams to establish quick feedback, constant adaptation, and best practices in quality assurance into the iterations. Additionally, it enables the teams to embrace automated continuous integration and deployment practices that speeds up the product release and use. APM also enhances continuous evaluation of project time and costs. In this context, Agile Project Management finds applicability in a variety of projects outside the field of information technology.

1.2 Motivations of the Research

For a long time, the focus of Agile Project Management has been in software development. However, recent research studies have established that APM methodologies can be useful in other sectors that are not related to information technology (Ribeiro & Fernandes 2010). In light of the changing project management environment, it is important that any initiated projects are successfully completed in record time without wasting the scarce resources. Despite the benefits of Agile Project Management techniques, its implementation is likely to face hurdles given that that some of its principles and values of APM are not applicable to non-IT sectors (Gustavsson 2016). Similarly, Hall (2012) notes that the scalability of these processes is still unresolved especially those concerning bigger projects. It is important that the barriers to successful adoption of APM strategies are addressed in an appropriate manner so that their benefits are realized in non-IT and non-Software domains of enterprise projects. Therefore, this study seeks to establish how application of APM methodologies can be achieved in other sectors.

1.3 The significance of the Research

Agile Project Management techniques have been found to enhance project success in the information technology sector. Available evidence also suggests that APM processes can be beneficial to other sectors. The completion of projects is critical in mitigating wasteful use resources, reduction of costs, enhancing employee productivity, streamlining teamwork, and promoting national development. In this regard, the application of APM processes in any enterprise sets the pace for successful realization of projects. Unfortunately, there are unresolved issues that hinder the adoption of APM techniques in non-IT sectors. Therefore, the findings of this study will enable all stakeholders to formulate and implement appropriate Agile Project Management policies that will enhance the adoption of these methodologies in all sectors. Additionally, this study will add new insights to the already existing body of knowledge on APM technologies hence providing researchers with useful information for further research on issues affecting the successful implementation of projects.

1.4 Research Question

The overarching purpose of this study will be to determine the issues affecting the adoption of Agile Project Management technologies in the non-IT and non-Software sectors and how they can be overcome. Available evidence suggests that APM processes have largely been successful in software development. Thus, other sectors can benefit from these processes that seek to address the barriers facing the traditional enterprise management techniques. Therefore, the study will investigate the extent to whichAPM techniques can be adopted in non-IT sectors. The research questions include:

  1. To what extent are Agile Project Management methodologies applicable in the non-IT and non-Software sectors?
  2. What are the concepts of Agile Project Management and their benefits in project implementation?
  3. What are the factors that hinder successful adoption of Agile Project Management techniques in the non-IT and non-Software sectors?
  4. How can these challenges be mitigated?
  5. What roles do the different project stakeholders play in Agile Project Management processes?

1.5 Research Design

Approach: This study will use the quantitative approach.

Method: The study will adopt the cross-sectional descriptive survey method. A descriptive research design is used for gathering, summarizing and interpreting information in preliminary and exploratory research studies for purposes of clarification. The study will inquire into the applicability of Agile Project Management techniques in the non-IT and non-Software sectors. A cross-sectional survey allows for the collection of the required data within the time allotted for study.

Study Population: The study population will be leaders of non-IT and non-Software companies.

Sample Size Determination and Sampling Technique: The number of participants in the study will be determined using the Cochran’s formula, while simple random sampling technique will be used to pick the respondents.  

Data Collection Instrument: Questionnaires will be the primary instrument for data collection

Data Presentation and Analysis:The collected data will be coded, edited and tabulated to ensure consistency and completeness. During analysis, data will be organized into categories, coded, and tabulated. TheStatistical Package for Social Sciences computer software (SPSS) will be used to analyze collected data using descriptive statistics. The findings will be presented using tables and pie charts

Ethical Considerations: The researcher will first seek permission to undertake this study from Asia Pacific International College’s Research and Ethics Committee and the various non-IT and non-Software organizations. The participants will be informed that their participation in the study will be voluntary, and will be required to sign a consent form. To ensure anonymity, no names should appear on either the consent form or questionnaire. Furthermore, the information given by the participants will be kept confidential.

1.6 Theoretical Orientation

Theories provide a framework for systematic inquiry of a phenomenon under study. In research, a theory forms the basis for argument, and is relevant if it contributes to generation of new knowledge, helps to dispel untruths, and/or confirms a fact. In other words, informed decision-making is premised on sound theoretical models. In this regard, adoption of the best practices in project management should be guided by available theoretical models that inform good practice. Appreciation of the role of theory in project management is supported by the following arguments provided that such appreciation is firmly based on the realities of good practice (Glaser & Strauss 1967).  Firstly, relying on facts alone is not enough, for theory is critical in providing mental models necessary for the understanding the nature and effects of practice (Leithwood, Jantzi & Stenbach 1999, p. 75). Secondly, to depend on personal experience for the interpretation of facts and decision-making is defeatist as it disregards the knowledge of others. As such, there is need for familiarization with the reasoning and insights of other people so that one is equipped with all the information necessary to solve emerging issues today. Furthermore, understanding theory helps to reduce making mistakes in the process of acquiring experience. Thirdly, experience alone is not enough especially when people operate in different contexts as organizational variables differ from one institution to the other. Thus, embracing a wider theoretical awareness is invaluable in project implementation under new contexts. In this regard, this study will be grounded on the Scrum theory as it concerns Agile Project Management.

1.7 Expected Findings and Applications

It is expected that this study will confirm the importance of Agile Project Management methodologies in non-IT and non-Software sectors. For instance, APM will increase productivity, reduce costs, and enhance product quality. In addition, it is also expected that this study will establish that lack of management support, inadequacy of skills within project teams, lack of resources, and resistance to change are some of the factors that hinder adoption of APM processes, and that these challenges can be mitigated through creation of awareness among industry leaders. Lastly, the findings will establish that all stakeholders play an integral role in the effective management of projects.

1.8 Structure of the Thesis

This thesis comprises of six (6) chapters. Chapter one is the introduction which provides the background information, motivations for the research, research questions to be answered, significance of the study, research design, the theoretical orientation, the thesis structure, and conclusion.

Chapter two is the literature review. It will review all the relevant literature concerning the topic and the various concepts concerning Agile Project Management.

Chapter three is the research design. This section describes the overall research methodology to be used to conduct the study. It includes the research overview, hypothesis, research questions, research design analysis, instrumentation, ethical considerations, methodology limitations, and conclusion.

Chapter four is the analysis of research data. This section analyzes using descriptive statistics and presents it using descriptive tables and pie charts

Chapter five draws conclusions from the analyzed data, highlights the contributions of the study, provides the study’s limitations, and areas of further research inquiry.

Chapter six comprises of the sources that have been cited in the study.

1.9 Conclusion

Agile Project Management technology promises to address the challenges faced by traditional project management processes in project planning and implementation. Instructively, the success of APM techniques in software development can be, with proper management, replicated in other sectors outside the information technology. This study will be beneficial to all stakeholders involved in project management as its findings can be used to make informed decisions during project planning and execution. Additionally, it will be useful for policymakers as it will provide important information that can inform the formulation of appropriate policies regarding project management. Lastly, the study’s findings will enrich the existing body of knowledge on project management.

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1 Introduction

This chapter reviews available literature pertaining to Agile Project Management methodologies and their application in a variety of non-IT and non-software domains. The chapter focus on several issues, including history of APM techniques, APM characteristics, Agile methodologies, applicability in non-IT and non-Software domains, challenges facing APM methodologies and mitigation strategies, research gap, and conclusion.

2.2 Project Management

More than ever, organizations are increasingly focusing on project management (PM) as a way of remaining competitive and means of achieving their business goals in today’s fast-paced and complex economy. Project management has been defined as “the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities to meet the project requirements” (Gartner 2019, par.1). Many Project Portfolio Management (PPM) leaders are aware that the core value of projects supersedes the timely and on-budget delivery of projects to encompass the achievement of the expected outcomes by an organization. Project management has been misunderstood by many people especially those who believe that it is a needless budgetary constraint, for it results in extra costs that exceed the budgetary allocations for a given project. It has been noted that an effective project management goes beyond “keeping project management’s iron triangle in check, delivering on time, budget, and scope; it unites clients and teams, creates a vision for success and gets everyone on the same page of what’s needed to stay on track for success” (Aston 2017, par. 2). The use of PM in execution of projects has several advantages that include;

2.2 1 Strategic Alignment

PM ensures that projects are delivered at the right time to create value for an organization. Evidently, individuals and companies have set certain goals that they intend to achieve, and projects serve to advance these goals. Project management ensures that projects are planned within a client’s wider strategic agenda in order to attain better business results. However, it is imperative to note that a project is prone to certain risks that may require change of strategy, and this is the point where project management ensures that the project is flexible enough to accommodate any imminent change so as to avoid wastage of resources and time.

2.2.2 Leadership

For a project to be successful, there is need for direction and leadership, and this can be provided by project management. In the absence of proper PM, the project team becomes disorganized, disoriented, and without purpose. According to Aston (2017), the intent of PM is to provide leadership, motivation, inspiration, and vision for the team to effectively and efficiently discharge their mandate. In this context, project managers play an important role in project execution as they enhance accountability, transparency, and maintain order among the team members, for they are ultimately responsible for the failure or success of a project.

2.2.3 Maintains Project Objectives and Focus

Project management enables project teams to come up with a solid plan for achieving project goals. PM ensures that the teams have clearly defined roles, are focused, and work towards the achievement of set objectives. Project managers are better placed to ensure that projects are completed on time by breaking up tasks so that the members can focus their energies on specific objectives, and this allows for easy identification of emerging risks so that they are addressed promptly and appropriately (Aston 2017). Oftentimes, a project is bound to change its goals in accordance with attendant risk, and this calls for proper project management practices to ensure that team members are focused and where necessary, the objectives are aligned accordingly.

2.2.4 Rational Project Planning

Rational project planning is integral to the success of any enterprise. A well planned project is one that identifies the deliverables, timelines for completion, and its estimated cost. Arguably, when project management is lacking, project teams tend to set deadlines and allocate resources that are unrealistic and unattainable. According to Project Management Institute (2010), successful organizations in various sectors and geographical locations have increasingly embraced project management as a means of cutting down costs and improving project outcomes. The adoption of PM ensures that projects are delivered on time and within the budgetary allocations. In this regard, project managers have a duty and responsibility of setting achievable and reasonable timelines and budgets. Unfortunately, the desire to deliver sometimes undermines the important steps, which invariably results in poor quality projects. Therefore, it is pertinent that project managers initiate realistic plans within the scope of the project and the available resources.

2.2.5 Quality Control

Maintaining quality is of paramount important in any project. Understandably, project teams come under immense pressure to bring projects to their logical conclusions. Notably, when a project manager who is not dedicated and has no support from the top management, there is underestimation of tasks, schedules are made tighter, and processes hurried (Aston 2017). This situation leads to poor quality outcomes. Project management allows for proper planning in terms of resources and deadlines as well as quality testing at every step of the project. It has been argued that “Good project management demands gated phases where teams can assess the output for quality, applicability, and ROI” (Aston 2017, par. 23). Therefore, efficient and effective project management is at the core of quality assurance as it enables project teams to assess and test the quality of their work at every phase of the project.

Acceptable project management practices

Adherence to acceptable project management practices and processes helps in minimizing costs, reducing risks, and improving the success rates of projects. Many organizations have realized the need for investing resources, time, and money to develop their project management potential, for this leads to increased efficiencies, sustained stakeholder and customer satisfaction, and improved competitiveness. According to AltexSoft (2016), projects comprises of several phases that also have a number of internal steps that vary in terms of scope, project, industry, and team. The Agile Project Management methodologies have been developed to effectively manage projects while addressing the pitfalls of the traditional approaches to enterprise management.

2.3 Agile Project Management

In recent times, agile project management methodologies have widely been adopted in managing projects in the information technology sector. For instance, agile techniques can determine whether a software development initiative succeeds or fails entirely (Vandersluis 2014). Agile processes have inspired flexibility and efficiency in software engineering. According to AltexSoft (2016), the development of agile approaches were inspired by the incremental development methods that were widely used by Motorola and IBM and popularized by scientists such as von Neumann, Dimsdale, and Weinberg in the late 1950s.Vandersluis (2014) posits that agile methodologies developed from Rapid application design (RAD), a popular software development philosophy of the eighties and nineties. RAD enabled developers to continually improve on the software designs they were working on before they were completed. Similarly, RAD was based on the ideas behind design-build, then a common process in the construction and engineering industry. Correspondingly, design-build was rooted in rolling wave, a highly regarded way of thinking in earlier project management processes (Vandersluis 2014). Therefore, APM has evolved over time to become what it is today.

It was realized that the agile processes differed greatly with the traditional approaches. However, the current agile techniques were unveiled in 2001 by a group of software developers who came up with the Agile Software Development Manifesto, which highlighted the need for better methods of software development.

According to AltexSoft (2016, p. 6), the agile manifesto helped in the formulation of methods, standards, plans, and principles that guide APM today, and it states thus in its totality;

Figure 2: The Manifesto for Agile Software Development (Beck et al. 2001).

The new approach

In combination with the principles guiding agile software development, the new approach has gained universal traction as the new way of managing projects. Agile thinking is a process that is focused on achieving the desired outcomes through repetitive actions. The APM methodologies comprise of several small iterative cycles commonly referred to as sprints, each of which is considered to be a mini project with several steps that include the “design, implementation, testing and deployment stages within the pre-defined scope of work” (AltexSoft 2016, p. 6). In each iteration cycle, a product is improved by adding new features hence every sprint delivers an improved product. The early validation of the new features ensures that a project succeeds by producing quality products. AltexSoft (2016) notes that agile thinking is characterized by the following attributes: 1) Flexibility: the agile approach is adaptive to any changes that may occur during the different phases of a project, 2) Work breakdown: APM encompasses small iterative tasks known as sprints, 3) Value of teamwork: the members of a project team usually work together and have clearly defined roles, 4) Iterative improvements: products are continuously assessed and reassessed for purposes of making improvements on them thus leading to quality outputs, and 5) Cooperation with a client: the project team works closely with the client to ensure that any changes to be made on a product are unanimously agreed upon by both parties. The agile process has several benefits, including proving room for change, increasing project team productivity, and ensures that a project is visible from a broader perspective.

2.4 Agile methodologies

Agile Project Management consists of several methodologies as discussed below.

2.4.1 Extreme Programming (XP)

In software development, extreme programming is focused on improving the quality of the software while responding to the changing customer needs. According to Beck (2000), the conception and development of XP was meant to address software development needs undertaken by small teams in light of the changing and indistinct requirements. Despite being considered to be a lightweight process, extreme programming has challenged numerous traditional principles, including the belief that altering a piece of software dramatically increases its cost over time. This methodology is geared towards cost reduction and exploitation of due savings.  XP “advocates frequent “releases” in short development cycles, by using sprints for one, two or three weeks, which are intended to improve productivity and introduce checkpoints at which new customer requirements can be adopted” (Murat 2016, p. 11). Extreme programming has other features that include paired programming or undertaking wide-ranging code reviews, all codes are unit tested, foregoing programming of software features unless required, the management structure is flat, focuses on code clarity and simplicity, anticipates change in customer’s needs, and encourages close collaboration between the client and software developers. According to Murat (2016), XP is premised on four main values (simplicity, courage, communication and feedback) and twelve supportive practices (planning game, small releases, customer acceptance tests, and simple design among others). However, XP has its own pitfalls that include shifting requirements, no provisions for resolving user conflicts, and the lack of design documentation or specifications. \

2.4.2 Scrum

Scrum provides a platform upon which individuals can develop and sustain complex products. Schwaber and Sutherland (2017, p. 3) define Scrum as “A framework within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.” It is described as being simple to comprehend, lightweight, and hard to complex to understand. The Scrum framework has found application in complex project management since the early 1990s. According to Schwaber and Sutherland (2017), Scrum is neither a techniques nor process for product building, but a framework upon which various techniques and processes are used. This model encompasses the best practices in project management and development that are focused on making improvements to a product.

Scrum teams

Scrum is constituted of Scrum teams that have specific roles, rules, artifacts, and events that are all geared towards ensuring that projects are brought to their logical conclusion. Initially, Scrum was meant to manage and develop products but since1990s it has increasingly found applicability in a variety of areas, including researching and identifying feasible markets, products, and technologies; developing and enhancing products, sustaining new products; developing Cloud and other environments for product use; and releasing products.

Customers’ project needs

Scrum recognizes that customers’ project needs and wants are inclined to change, and cannot be adequately be addressed by the traditional approaches. The Scrum framework utilizes the empirical approach, which accepts that such changes may not be fully defined or understood, thus focuses on the project team’s ability to respond to any alterations to the initial plan. according to Schwaber and Sutherland (2017), It has been noted that “Scrum has been used to develop software, hardware, embedded software, networks of interacting function, autonomous vehicles, schools, government, marketing, managing the operation of organizations and almost everything we use in our daily lives, as individuals and societies” (Schwaber & Sutherland 2017, p.4 ). Notably, Scrum has been able to address today’s attendant market, technology, and environmental complexities.

2.4.3 Rational Unified Process (RUP)

TheRational Unified Process also uses the iterative approach in product development. This methodology is an adaptable framework that can be customized by an organization and project teams to fit their needs (Murat 2016). In this regard, project planners choose those elements of the process that are useful to them in terms of product delivery.  However, Borth and Shishido (2013) posit that though RUP is regarded as an agile process as it enhances change and depends on iterative development, it differs from agile thinking in that it adopts heavy documentation throughout the life cycle of a project. According to Kruchten (2000), RUP is built on the best practices in software development, including iterative development, requirement management, use of component-based designs, visual model software, continuous verification of software quality, and software change control. The Rational Unified Process has two designs, namely static and dynamic structures (Gouveia 2015).The static design demonstrates the interaction between team members and activities throughout the project while the dynamic design is a representation of the lifecycle of a project in regard to iterations, stages, and milestones.

2.4.4 Kanban

This is one of the popular frameworks for managing projects. According to AltexSoft (2016), 43 percent of organizations use Kanban to manage projects. This framework that is premised on Toyota’s production control system is simple yet popular, for it has been widely adopted in the management of many projects. It has been noted that “Kanban focuses on the visualization of the workflow and prioritizes the work in progress (WIP), limiting its scope to match it effectively to the team’s capacity” (AltexSoft 2016, p. 13). Upon completion of one task, the project team picks the next item in the pipeline, a process that allows for planning flexibility, quicker turnaround, transparency, and comprehensible objectives.

Kanban

Notably, Kanban does not require standardized procedures or fixed iterations seen in Scrum. The uniqueness of Kanban is that it allows project members to visualize the workflow on special boards that utilize sticky notes and or online platforms such as Trello. Every work item has specific information that is contained on the Kanban card, and every team member gets to know what he or she is responsible for, each person’s task, and deadlines for each work among others. The boards also allow each member to post a comment, attach documents, screenshots, or links for further details. It is important to note that members of a project team collaborate with one another, and the ease with which work progress is achieved helps colleagues understand each other’s personal input towards the attainment of a common objective.

2.5 Benefits of Agile Project Management

Project management is increasingly being recognized as a key contributor to organizational performance.  Throughout various human civilizations, mankind has been involved in the management of projects that have positively contributed to the development of societies. According to Olasupo, Ibrahim, and Gazal (2012), projects constitute about 50 percent of all the operations of an organization, and they contribute to its growth. Project management (PM) plays an essential part in the success of any project undertaken by a company. There are two approaches to PM, including the traditional processes and the agile methodologies. Arguably, the conventional approaches of managing projects are faced with a myriad of constraints that make project execution a big challenge. This has been attributed to “the increasing complexity of project, large capital investment, widely dispersed project participants, stringent quality standard, escalating cost, environment shocks, increasing stakeholders’ power and advancement in ICT” (Olasupo, Ibrahim & Gazal 2012, p. 1). These hurdles to successful completion of projects have been overcome by the development and use of agile project management methodologies. The adoption of APM’s practices and principles has greatly benefitted many organizations by creating shared value. The merits of agile approaches include the following (Project Management Institute n.d.):

  1. They enable organizations to adapt to the ever changing business requirements so as to effectively address these needs
  2. They allow for prompt, faster, and continuous client feedback which enhances better communication and empowers project stakeholders to receive and review relevant information that is necessary for project completion
  3. They help in early determination of the return on investment (ROI)
  4. They bring on board all project stakeholders and this enhances the quality of the project outcomes
  5. They ensure high project visibility and determine the progress of a given project, and this allows for early detection of attendant problems facing an enterprise project.
  6. Due to the incremental delivery of work, they minimize process and product waste

Several factors play a significant role in the successful completion of any given project undertaking, including its complexity, resources, budgets, schedules, clients, goals, objectives, and stakeholders. In this regard, effective communication, team collaboration, and leadership play a pivotal role in the management of projects if its aims and objectives are to be achieved.

2.6 Applicability of APM methodologies in non-IT and non-Software Domains

It is important to note that agile thinking takes cognizance of the importance of human capital, cooperation, and shared value in achieving project success. The philosophy behind agile approaches are aptly captured in the Agile Manifesto, for they exploit iterative and incremental processes, observe flexibility and rapid responses, effective communication among clients, stakeholders, and  project teams to produce work of the highest quality. The process of dividing a project into small tasks allows for faster development, testing, and modification of products, which leads to minimization of errors and costs. Nowadays, agile methodologies are being embraced by various non-IT domains beyond the information technology sector, including construction, education, aerospace, and travel and tourism industries.

Agile methodologies

Notably, agile methodologies are usually applied in information technology projects, but are increasing being adopted to manage non-IT projects, including company reorganizations, company relocation, and departmental business processes change in organizations (Murat 2016).

For instance, Eden (2013) posits that agile processes can be used in developing educational course projects where they enhance quality, flexibility, focus, sharing of knowledge, and enhanced adaptation to change. In light of this, agile technologies can be utilized for a variety of projects provided that project teams follow laid down procedures. For instance, agile approaches are increasingly being used in the construction industry in several areas, including the pre-design, design, and construction phases (Owen et al. 2006). The adoption of agile processes should be based on their beneficial impacts on the organization. However, there are challenges that make it challenging for organizations to adopt agile processes. According to White (2008), the barriers to successful adoption of agile methodologies in most organizations are related to “soft” issues, including human resources and organizational culture, and not necessary to the process themselves or their tools. For instance, people tend to be resistance to change and prefer to do things the old-fashioned way, and indications for such resistance include lame excuses, negative sentiments against the new approaches, and opposition to the project leader.

2.7 Research Gap

Effective project management initiatives are geared towards cost reduction, product quality improvement, meeting deadlines, customer satisfaction, and reduction of wasteful use of resources. It is in this context that agile thinking has been deployed to realize these benefits. Many research studies have established the beneficial implications of adopting agile project management in the IT and non-IT sectors (White 2008; Vandersluis 2014; Murat 2016). However, most studies are focused on the use of agile methodologies in software development in the non-IT sectors. Therefore, this study will focus specifically on the scope of APM on the non-IT and non-Software domains

2.8 Conclusion

Agile Project Management methodologies emerged as a result of the frustrations that project managers faced while applying the conventional methods in managing projects. There are several agile methods available to a variety of projects across many industries, including Scrum, Extreme programming, Kanban, and Rational Unified Process among others. The agile thinking takes into consideration various aspects of a project, including its flexibility, cost, time, resources, teams, customers, and stakeholders. The APM frameworks offer speed, quality, and productivity to a given project. The befits of agile technologies include the use of iterative tasks that are well defined to enhance return on investment, ensures that the progress of a project is highly visible, and enables early identification of inherent errors in a product which allows for modification. In addition, the agile processes encourage client participation in the project, allow organizations to change in accordance to new market demands, and minimize wasteful use of resources. Therefore, organizations should be aware of the available agile methodologies so as to select the one that meets its needs.

2.9 Research Model

Independent Variables                                         Dependent Variables

Figure 2: Research Model

2.10 Table Showing Chapter Two Summary

ArticleAuthorYearFindings
The article looks at project management and the traditional and agile approaches in PMAltexSoft    2016Agile Project Management methodologies emerged as a result of the frustrations that project managers face when applying the conventional methods in managing projects. The agile methodologies include Scrum, Extreme programming, Kanban, and Rational Unified Process among others. The agile thinking takes into consideration various aspects of a project, including its flexibility, cost, time, resources, teams, customers, and stakeholders.
The study looked into the application of agile techniques in the development of educational course projects.Eden2013The study established that the use of agile methodologies in education brought about quality, flexibility, focus, sharing of knowledge, and enhanced adaptation to change.
The purpose of this study was to establish how Agile Project Management concepts can be implemented in non-IT situations. It also sought to find out the factors to be taken into consideration when deciding if an agile framework should be adopted or not.Gouveia  2015The study concluded that Agile Project management has a higher potential for application in New Product Development, and that the factors that determines the adoption of an agile approach include competitiveness, innovativeness, and the project team’s autonomy and experience.
The research study sought to establish the adoption of Agile Project Management in the travel industry andMurat2016Agile methodologies can be invaluable to the travel industry provided there are enough resources, qualified and experienced project teams, and top management support. However, the author cautions that agile approaches does not guarantee absolute success but they help project teams to focus their energies towards the production of valuable products and better business outcomes.
The research study looked into how project management determines the success of projects at Blackstone Construction CompanyOlasupo, Ibrahim and Gazal2012The study established a link between the quality of a project and the success of a business; the quality of a project and technical achievement. The study also established that the cost of a project determined its acceptability by customers.
The paper provides a summary of the historical development of Agile Project management, while at the same establishing how it differs from lean and agile production as well as ‘leagile’ construction.  Owen et al.2006The authors found out that Agile Project Management is useful during the pre-design and design stages of construction but faces many challenges when adopted during the actual construction. However, the researchers note that if these hurdles are successfully overcome, APM offers several benefits that surpass any single project.
This article highlights the importance of project management in today’s competitive economy.Project Management Institute2010The article argues that project management enables organizations to mitigate risks, reduces costs, and ensures the success rates of business operations.
This guide provides various aspects of the Scrum guide, including its roles, artifacts, events, and rules. Schwaber and Sutherland2017The authors argue that all aspects of Scrum are incontrovertible and although it is possible to implement parts of this framework, it does not amount to Scrum. This approach can only exist in its entirety and can serve as a container for other practices, techniques, and frameworks.

References

Altexsoft 2016, Agile project management: Best practices and methodologies, AltexSoft. Available from:< https://www.altexsoft.com/media/2016/04/Agile-Project-Management-Best-Practices-and-Methodologies-Whitepaper.pdf.>. [12 March 12, 2019].

Aston, B 2017, Why is project management important? Digital Project Manager. Available from:

<https://thedigitalprojectmanager.com/why-is-project-management-important/>.

[12 March 12, 2019].

Beck, K, 2000, Extreme programming eXplained: embrace change. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA.

Beck, K, Beedle, M, van Bennekem, A, Cockburn, A., Cunningham, W., Fowler, M et al. 2001, Manifesto for agile software development. Available from:< https://agilemanifesto.org/.>. [12 March 12, 2019].

Borth, MR & Shishido, HY 2013, ‘A Comparative Analysis of Two Software Development Methodologies: Rational Unified Process and Extreme Programming’, Revista Vértices, vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 143–157.

Conforto, EC, Salum, F, Amaral, DC, da Silva, SL & de Almeida, LF 2014, ‘Can agile project management be adopted by industries other than software development? Project Management Journal, vol. 45, no. 3, pp. 21-34.

Conforto, EC, Amaral, DC, da Silva, SL, Di Felippo, A & Kamikawachi, DS 2016,

‘The agility construct on project management theory’, International Journal of Project

Management, vol. 34, no. 4, pp. 660-674.

Copland, M, Darling-Hammond, L, Knapp, M, McLaugghlin, M & Talbert, J 2002, Leadership for teaching and learning: A framework for research and action, American Educational Research Association, New Orleans.

Drury-Grogan, ML 2014, ‘Performance on agile teams: Relating iteration objectives and critical decisions to project management success factors’, Information and Software

Technology, vol. 56, no. 5, pp. 506–515.

Edin, GM 2013. ‘Can agile methods enhance mechatronics design education?’ Mechatronics, vol. 23, no. 8, pp. 967-973.

Gartner 2019, Project management. Available from: <http://blogs.gartner.com/it-glossary/project-management/>. [12 March 12, 2019].

Gouveia, DR 2015, An essay on agile project management practices. Dissertation, Universidade Nova de Lisboa.

Gustavsson, T 2016, ‘Benefits of agile project management in a non-software development context – a literature review’, PM World Journal, vol. V, no. VIII, pp. 1-12.

Hall, NG 2012, ‘Project management: Recent developments and research opportunities ’, Journal of Systems Science and Systems Engineering, vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 129-143.

Leithwood, K, Jantzi, D & Steinbach, R 1999, Changing leadership for changing times, Open University Press, Buckingham.

Mishra, D & Mishra, A 2011, ‘Complex software project development: Agile methods

Adoption’, Journal of Software Maintenance and Evolution: Research and Practice, vol. 23, no. 8, pp. 549-564.

Murat, Ö 2016, Agile Project Management in the Travel Industry. Masters’ thesis, University of Oslo.

Kruchten, P 2000, The rational unified process: An introduction, 2nd edn, Addison Wesley Longman, Massachusetts.

Olasupo, AR, Ibrahim, OO & Gazal, HO 2012,‘Effect of project management on project

success’, Australian Journal of Business and Management Research, vol. 2, no. 3, pp. 1-11.

Ribeiro, FL & Fernandes, MT 2010, ‘Exploring agile methods in construction small and medium enterprises: a case study’, Journal of Enterprise Information Management, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 161-180.

Owen, R, Koskela, L, Henrich, G & Codinhoto, R 2006, ‘Is agile project management applicable to construction?’, Proceedings of the 14th annual conference of the international group for lean construction, pp. 51-66. Available from: < http://usir.salford.ac.uk/9369/.>. [12 March 12, 2019].

Project Management Institute 2010, The value of project management, PMI. Available from: < https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/white-papers/value-of-project-management.pdf.>. [12 March 12, 2019].

Project Management Institute n.d, The agile project management approach, PMI. Available from: <https://www.pmi.org/-/media/pmi/documents/public/pdf/certifications/agile-certified-presentation.pdf?sc_lang_temp=en.>. [12 March 12, 2019].

Serrador, P & Pinto, JK 2015, ‘Does agile work? A quantitative analysis of agile project success’, International Journal of Project Management, vol. 33, no. 5, pp. 1041-1051.

Schwaber, K & Sutherland, J 2013,The definitive guide to scrum: The rules of the game, Scrum,org. available from:< https://www.scrumguides.org/docs/scrumguide/v2017/2017-           Scrum-Guide-US.pdf.> . [12 March 12, 2019].

Tatikonda, MV & Rosenthal, SR 2000, ‘Successful execution of product development projects: Balancing firmness and flexibility in the innovation process’, Journal of Operations Management, vol. 18, no. 4, pp. 401-425.

Totten, J 2017, Critical success factors for agile project management in non-software related product development teams. 3178. Available from ScholarWorksat WMU. [9 March 2019].

Owen, R. L.; Koskela, L. (2006a) “Agile Construction Project Management”, 6th International

Postgraduate Research Conference in the Built and Human Environment, 6/7 April 2006 Delft,

Netherlands. Research Institute for the Built and Human Environment, University of Salford.

Vandersluis, C 2014, ‘Apply agile methodology to non-software enterprise projects’, Paper presented at PMIGlobal Congress 2014 North America, Phoenix, AZ. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

White, KR 2008, ‘Agile project management: a mandate for the changing business environment’, Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2008—North America, Denver, CO. Newtown Square, PA. Available from: < https://www.pmi.org/learning/library/agile-project-management-mandate-changing-requirements-7043.>. [12 March 12, 2019].

Business

Executive Summary

The complexity of current businesses

The complexity of today’s business environment requires that business organizations have to master the essential techniques of staying ahead of the competition, including identifying market opportunities, meeting customer preferences through production of quality products, satisfying supplier demands, undertaking efficient business operations, engaging in sound marketing strategies, and complying with the industry’s rules and regulations. Laxity in these areas will only result in poor organizational performance which will firmly place the business enterprise on the path to failure.  This report looks at the inherent problems facing Cowgirl Chocolate that have led to its dismal performance despite the abundant opportunities for growth, and at the same time offers some useful strategies that, if well executed, will help the company to attain a sizeable market share, realize increased sales, and remain profitable.

Cowgirl Chocolate

Despite having been in business for some time, Cowgirl Chocolate has been underperforming for a variety of avoidable reasons. The company lacks the right marketing mix strategy for its products. For instance, its promotional strategies have failed largely because of inadequate resources which have hindered focused and aggressive marketing of its products. In addition, Cowgirl Chocolate has failed to come up with an appropriate pricing strategy for its products to attract potential customers while retaining its current ones. In regard to its products, the company has lost customers simply because its chocolates are too spicy. These challenges combined with a poor distribution channels only leads to poor market performance.

Market visibility

In order for the company to become competitive, it needs to undertake various measures to ensure that its products attain the required market visibility. Firstly, image is everything and the company has poorly branded its products that tend to discourage potential customers. In this regard, the company needs to change its branding strategy so that its products can attract new customers especially young children, teenagers, young adults who make the majority of chocolate consumers. Secondly, there is need for Cowgirl Chocolate to focus on home deliveries as a new frontier for business opportunities. Relying on third parties only serves to eat up the profits, thus the company should create reliable online platforms where customers can place their orders on time, and the deliveries should be done promptly to avoid customer dissatisfaction. Thirdly, in order to ensure smooth business operations, the company should seek for funds from financial institutions or form mergers with other players in the industry so as to have the necessary financial muscle to undertake its various business activities, including promotions, branding, and opening new distribution channels, and establishing its production facility among others. Fourthly, Cowgirl Chocolate needs to embark on product diversification for various market segments to ensure its growth. Finally, the company should develop sound pricing and promotional strategies in place so as to compete favorably with other players in the market.

Success of Cowgirl Chocolate

Cowgirl Chocolate has the potential to attain enviable success if it puts in place strategies that are geared towards making its products visible to a wider audience. These strategies include forming joint partnerships with established companies, adopting the skimming pricing strategy, reconstituting its target markets, seeking the services of a marketing professional, and or have an established market operator help market is products at a fee.

Introduction

Cowgirl Chocolate is at crossroads concerning the choice of strategy to usher in a new era of profitability. The company has been operational for a few years but is yet to make significant impacts in the market. This is largely due to the slack attention to marketing promotion. As a result, not many customers are aware of the presence of this company and its products. In addition, the company does not possess sufficient resources to fully support its marketing operations. For this reason, this report has analyzed various options available to the company. It is the belief of this exercise that the top management will take time to fully weigh the proposed alternatives and implications. Some of the alternatives are mutually exclusive and their implementation will require strict isolation without making efforts to blend ideas from other alternatives. In this regard, it is the hope of the report that the executive will make an informed decision to turn around the company’s fortunes.

Case Study Issues (Company problems)

A keen analysis of this company reveals myriad issues ailing its operations. Key among these includes inadequate marketing resources. The company continues to be cash-strapped and cannot successfully execute its marketing operations. Only recently has it commissioned its first print advertisement since rolling out operations. Even in cases where it enjoys opportunities to market on a free platform, it does not capitalize fully on such openings. It seems as if the company has not done its homework to draft an appropriate marketing message to the target market (Sharma, Yukti, and Reshma, 96). The same must apply to the branding, which is in total disarray and locks out a sizable chunk of potential consumers. The branding must seek to portray the product in a positive light as opposed to ridiculing some consumers as is the case with Cowgirl.

The product quality

The product quality is not in doubt but perhaps the pricing strategy could do with a bit of modification. The company has tried endlessly to present the product as a premium brand on several outlets but has been a total flop. In other cases, the third-party vendors tried to present the product with a low-cost price level, and this turned to be an instant hit. Maybe the problem rests with the pricing strategy and not the products or other marketing initiatives.

Market segment

It is also possible that the company has specialized in a very narrow market segment. Since launching in the market, the firm has encountered numerous customers from various walks of life describing its chocolate as being too spicy or hot. The issue is that many chocolate lovers have a sweet tooth and seem to prefer sugary products. From the company’s own admission, only 15% of the market prefers the hot, chili flavors. By concentrating on a segment that has been accustomed to sweet options, the company could have narrowed down its target segment so much that it is still struggling to make an impact in the market (Jackson, Graham, and Vandana, 170). Another problem related to this one is the product itself. As mentioned, many argue that the chocolate is too spicy. Perhaps this is the reason the company has failed to attract a loyal clientele. Those purchasing the chocolate only do so out of curiosity but do not make return purchases.

Alternatives

Branding

The company has been struggling to take off whereas everyone in the vicinity admits that it presents excellent chocolate to the market. Its product quality and packaging meet market expectations save for one thing; a branding that could be driving away the customers. This is because the company wants to appeal to the tough consumers out there. It derives motivation from the cowboy lifestyle, which involves roughness and wilderness all combined into one. What is more, the company goes ahead to include in the logo the words “sissies stay away” as a marketing gimmick. This gimmick might represent the tough stance the company wants to portray. However, does it foster the company’s quest to achieve higher sales? In no way does it increase the marketing impact. In fact, it only locks out a sizable chunk of the market. Chocolate lovers are not the abrasive, macho consumers that the company seems to describe. In majority cases, chocolate consumers are young children, teenagers, young adults, and a minority section within the grown-up market segment.

Fig 1: US chocolate market segmentation

Source: http://breakwithkitkat.weebly.com/stage-1—segmentation.html

Therefore, this branding strategy needs to consider the real audience it is targeting. It might be subliminally sending the wrong message to the market. Perhaps a more catchy and fun branding strategy would be more appealing to the audience (Venkatesan, 645). As a suggestion, the branding must revolve around the joy surrounding the consumption of this wonderful chocolate brand. It should not take an offensive tag-line that describes other consumers as “sissies”, for instance. The future strategy should refrain from profiling a target segment in ways that could drive away potential consumers. Still on the branding, the company could also choose to focus on the quality and value addition contained in the chocolate. It is not in doubt that the product development process was thorough. The entrepreneur made sure to address all issues surrounding product development just to appeal to the customers.

Home Deliveries

The entrepreneur has been making modest sales individually away from the official distributors. She has been dispatching orders to the addresses of customers but on a small scale. So far it seems as if the company is fully intent on relying on third-party distribution facilities. Whereas this is a practical approach keeping in mind that it lacks its own capacity, it would also be better if it took initiatives to grow its own distribution capacity (Jackson, Graham, and Vandana, 174). The company should make more home deliveries. Currently, it only takes orders from its official company website as an option. Perhaps it needs to become more aggressive in pursuing this outlet. For instance, it should market the website to the existing clients. In addition, it should complement this approach with the company’s official telephone lines where customers can also make orders.

Making deliveries

In the initial days, it can start small by making deliveries in the vicinity. With time, it can acquire motorcycles to deliver orders within say a three-kilometer radius. Afterward, with a growing clientele, it could even purchase a delivery van to handle complex orders even within a 50-kilometer radius and so on and so forth. Home deliveries could turn out to be a great way to build its own distribution capacity (Wieland, 52). The company must not wait to have sufficient funds to build complex networks. It can start small and build from the small gains into the future. What is more, the home deliveries will be another option to connect with the customers. Every delivery will be an opportunity to interact with the customers to find out their opinion and feedback. Such information could prove to be invaluable in redesigning its business strategy in the future.

The only issue with the website is that it is too simplistic to be of meaningful impact during marketing research. The company does not know the level of traffic to the website due to a lack of sophisticated features. Similarly, there is no mode of tracking the origin of online traffic from third-party sites. With such a basic website, the company could be missing out on a lot of critical information, especially in terms of marketing promotion. It needs to hire a professional website developer to refurbish the existing one. The resultant website must incorporate advanced features capable of providing meaningful statistics for the purpose of modifying the marketing strategy.

Marketing Operations

The major problem facing Cowgirl right now is the scarcity of resources. The company simply cannot sustain the numerous operations and functions. It is cash-strapped and survives on injections of cash from the founder’s personal savings. For this reason, it needs to find ways to overcome this challenge lest it fails to attain its goals. The first alternative available for the company would be to access financing from financial institution loans. A loan would come in handy to finance the operations of the company until such a time when it can comfortably handle its affairs. However, it does not possess the necessary assets to secure such a loan. Therefore, the only alternative in as far as financing is concerned will be to form mergers with similar operators in the industry. The company has a business model similar to that of competitors outsourcing chocolate production and packaging to Seattle Chocolates. Therefore, such entities could join to form a formidable operator capable of taking on the market leader.

Amalgamating operations

Amalgamating operations would bring together the assets of various operators into one giant entity (Khan, 96). Even as this seems practical, there is a catch. Chances are high that the company would have to let go of its signature hot, spicy chocolate. With different operators coming on board, the marketers would have to blend or pick the most viable product to push in the market. Therefore, this option could present challenges for the operators as they seek to attain profitability in the market. Cowgirl should leave its options open for such a possibility in case it considers amalgamating operations. While seeking such ventures, the company must try as much as possible to convince the partners to include options of hot spicy chocolates. The resulting formidable company could have the resources to push dual products. In this regard, the company could retain its original identity by having its signature spicy chocolates as one of the product lines for the amalgamated entity. This would be a win-win situation in which the company still attends to the needs of its target market while reaping from revenues of additional product lines.

Product Diversification

            So far, the company has concentrated on the hot spicy chocolate, which is its premier brand. This is a fine idea but not one that the market is fully aware of. Therefore, thinking that customers will rally behind this exotic idea is fallacious on the part of the entrepreneurs. The idea needs time to settle in the market before customers can rally behind it. What it needs to do now is to conduct extensive marketing research on what exactly the customers are after. It is very obvious that there are numerous chocolate companies in the market at this point making supernormal profits. The entrepreneurs need to match this strategy by targeting similar customers with more or less the same product (Venkatesan, 645). Chocolate is not an exquisite idea that any entrepreneur can patent. Therefore, the market is liberal with not as many barriers. With a revamped strategy, the company can successfully capture market shares within the mainstream market with conventional chocolate brands. However, this is only a strategy to raise capital for the hot, spicy chocolate idea that seems to have much potential. Business

Marketing task

With such a strategy, the entrepreneurs would then acquire the financial might to take on the daunting marketing task ahead. The company does not need to break the bank or eat into the personal savings. All it needs is a strategy to ensure continuity of the business while it seeks to gain a footing in the chocolate industry. And the best way is the one presented above where it provides a diversified product offering targeting the existing consumers in the market. Success in such a quest will guarantee a steady flow of finances as the implementation of the hot, spicy brand gets underway.

Production Facility

Currently, the company does not own production plants. It relies on third-party entities to undertake the production from the sourcing and processing of chocolate to the packaging, branding, and retailing. In every sense, the company does virtually nothing along this entire process. It is always outsourcing the services to other companies. In all fairness, this is what other companies are doing in the market. Currently, Seattle Chocolates is the company responsible for processing chocolate products for most operators in the industry. What makes this approach a raw deal is that the company also deals in the chocolate industry as a marketer. What this implies is that the operators rely on a direct competitor to process rival products. Business

The company waiting

The company has to wait in line for its turn while other orders get processed. It has a lead time of up to 6 weeks, which is quite a lengthy duration. In the event of abrupt orders from customers, it would not be able to make timely supplies (Khan, 96). For this reason, it is only wise that the company invests in production facilities. It does not have to order the most sophisticated machines. All it needs is modest equipment that can handle orders as they arise. In any case, it will enjoy ownership of such a facility and will dictate the pace and order of processing. In addition, it could also produce on behalf of other marketers.

Reliance on Seattle Chocolates for production needs

Such an option seems viable keeping in mind that all other smaller operators rely on Seattle Chocolates for their production needs. Perhaps such a move would provide the company with a new revenue stream. It could snatch a few order requests from the market leader Seattle Chocolates. The company could transform into an overnight giant that handles bulky products from numerous small and medium-sized operators. Apart from the new revenue stream, the company will also enjoy lower operational costs than before (Jackson, Graham, and Vandana, 185). Currently, it has to pay a commission for every unit from production all the way to branding and packaging. However, with its own facility, all it will require is to meet the production overheads, which are not as high as commission charged by third-party production plants.

Pricing Strategy

The pricing strategy only makes sense on paper. The company has adopted a premium pricing strategy with the intention to appeal to the sophisticated and premium market segments. In addition, this is in line with the company’s quest to present the product as a quality offering from an operator that cherishes high value addition. With all this said and done the results on the ground paint a grim picture of actually what is happening. In stores where the product goes for lower price levels, there is a faster uptake than in those where it sells at premium prices (Jackson, Graham, and Vandana, 172). This must communicate something to the company that there is a need to reconsider the pricing strategy. So far it has relied on price discrimination basing on the store, location, and type of target consumers. However, the low-cost strategy has worked efficiently in some areas that it defied expectations when the chocolates sold out. This must be a wakeup call that the low-cost strategy is the way to go. Business

Denting the company’s image

At this point, the company might fear to dent its image. This is in line with the existing consumer perception that highly-priced options entail superior value-addition and vice-versa. Therefore, charging lower prices might wrongly communicate to the customers that the products contain lower value-addition. This is a legitimate concern keeping in mind that the entrepreneurs have undertaken an extensive product development process. They have refrained from using synthetic ingredients and only make use of high-quality, locally-sourced supplies. However, the essence of marketing is to reach out to the customers successfully. In any case, the customers are not even aware of the existence of the company and its products.

Rolling out low-cost strategy

Moving forward, the company must roll out a low-cost strategy. This has proven to be a practical approach to keep the chocolates flying off the shelves at select outlets. Therefore, it could potentially complement the efforts to have the company sell more units at the initial stage (Jackson, Graham, and Vandana, 173). In any case, the company should not worry about the resultant small profit margin. It is true that the low-cost strategy will come with a lower profit margin. However, on the bright side, the company stands to make higher sales. In the end, the high sales volume will make up for the lower profit margin. It could end up recording similar profitability if not higher keeping in mind the rapid pace of sales. Business

Promotion

A careful analysis of the promotional strategy reveals that the company is not doing enough in terms of the message. The company is not capitalizing on the organic component like it ought to. It should use this as a tactic to capitalize on the apprehension among customers of contracting lifestyle diseases. Currently, the entire food industry has been experiencing challenges to do with synthetic ingredients. This also extends partly to fatty and sugary foods. There have been research findings that link the high prevalence of lifestyle diseases to poor diet and lifestyle choices. Diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity continue to affect millions of consumers unlike in the past. What is more, even groups that were previously immune have now become more susceptible. This refers specifically to children suffering from obesity and diabetes, two ailments that were rare in this category.

Recommendations from health practitioners

Cowgirl as a brand has addressed this emerging trend by incorporating recommendations from health practitioners. By relying on natural ingredients, it has reduced the chances that consumers of its chocolate products will incur high risks of contracting lifestyle diseases. Therefore, the company needs to constantly repeat this message in its marketing promotion (Jackson, Graham, and Vandana, 170). So far, it is among the few chocolate brands doing so and must not take this attribute lightly. It has the potential to turnaround its fortunes when consumers become aware of this fact. In this regard, all its future marketing promotional messages must incorporate the organic messages in a bid to differentiate the brand from the rest. Business

Traditional media advertisements

The reason Cowgirl has yet to transform into a household brand is simply that the company has made very little efforts to advertise on the traditional media. From the co-founders confession, sales increased whenever a story about her ran on a major publication. The perfect example lies in the article in the New York Times that saw the company record the highest sales ever in a single day. Come to think of it, the company has not even scratched the surface in as far as marketing on traditional media is concerned. Traditional media comprises of radio, print, and television. Normally, these broadcast to the general market without targeting any specific audience. Therefore, marketing on such outlets will greatly increase the visibility of the company in the market (Sharma, Yukti, and Reshma, 96). Right now it is in the process of rolling out its first print advert. This is a commendable move but a lot still needs to happen in terms of marketing. Emphasis should be on advertising on television and radio, which have wider coverage. Of course, the company is cash-strapped but this should not imply that it refrains from marketing. It needs to run adverts on the mentioned traditional media simply to increase awareness on its brands and company developments. The advertisements will also serve to drive traffic onto the online platform.

The advent of the Internet

Most recently, the advent of the Internet has presented numerous opportunities to many industries. In fact, the Internet has facilitated the creation of strictly online operators that run activities over the Internet. The marketing fraternity has also been quick to embrace this digital invention. Therefore, the company needs to look for ways to join the bandwagon. Already it has a fully-functional website, which is quite commendable. Perhaps another option would be to place advertisements on third-party websites. This way, it would receive directed traffic of consumers visiting other websites who could be interested in the Cowgirl Chocolates. Social media marketing is also another option available to the company. With the continued rise in popularity of social media, it could come in handy to increase the awareness levels of the new chocolate brand (Jackson, Graham, and Vandana, 170). What is interesting is that social media allows for instant two-way communication between the marketer and consumer. Marketing over this platform could provide immense opportunities to forward its marketing agenda. Business

Licensing contracts

So far, the company has not been able to attain success in the market. It might have an innovative concept but the scarcity of resources still hold it back from attaining success. One option available for this company would be to have licensing agreements with a much more profitable company. It could contract a third party company such as Seattle Chocolates to manufacture and market the Cowgirl brand in the market on its behalf for an agreed period. Upon expiry of this contract, the brand would revert to the company’s fold to build upon where the contracted company left from.

Recommendations

Joint Venture: Production Facility

In as far as the acquisition of a production facility is concerned; the company should consider a joint venture with other smaller entities. Currently, it is facing a financial crisis and might not afford to purchase the production plant on its own. It will be too costly for the company. Even if it realizes this feat in one way or another, the operational costs would be too high for the meager resources left after the purchase. This is the reason it ought to consider partnering with similar smaller entities in acquiring production facilities (Khan, 98). There are several operators that outsource production to Seattle Chocolates and would gladly welcome such an idea. Moving forward, the best decision would be to seek like-minded partners with whom to undertake this quest. The best thing about such a move is that it will not necessarily impact heavily on its financial capital. The company will still have sufficient funds at its disposal to keep its chocolate business operational. Business

Skimming Pricing Strategy

There have been concerns surrounding the implementation of the low-cost price strategy. This is mainly due to the fact that it might hamper promotional activities when the company reaches out to the customers with its quality products. Customers might find it difficult to believe such sentiments owing to the fact that it will be selling at a lower price level (Wieland, 53). The low-cost strategy is only a short-term measure to gain entry in the market because so far the company seems to have stagnated in the market. It is the only strategy capable of jump-starting its operations. However, the company cannot afford to dismiss the sentiments that it might dent its brand eventually. For this, it must think deeply of how to maneuver past this debacle. Therefore, the suggestion would be to have a skimming price strategy. Under this strategy, the company first introduces the product with a low pricing level. With time, it must raise the price level as the products begin to soar in popularity in the market. This skimming price strategy will have solved the existing quagmire in the company in the sense that it allows for a low-cost strategy. In addition, it allows for a simultaneous increase in price levels in the future. With such a strategy, the company will succeed in maintaining the premium branding strategy that it intends for the Cowgirl Chocolate brand.

Target Market Reconstitution

The target market could be the problem with the marketing of this chocolate brand. The company has settled on a very small segment that cannot guarantee success even with the most sophisticated marketing campaigns. Maybe the company just needs to reconstitute its target market by including more individuals. This will be possible by undertaking the product diversification proposed above. The spicy, hot attribute of the brand will have to go. On the other hand, it could present alternative product lines or brands in the market to specific market segments. Maybe it should focus more on the “sissies” it despises so much. These are the major consumers of chocolate and could provide the much-needed impetus for growth in the near future.

Marketing Function Professional

            It is not in doubt that the company has a superior quality product. What still defies expectations is that it has not yet transformed this innovation into tangible sales volumes. Others with less innovative options are controlling the lion’s share in the chocolate industry. Therefore, this is simply a marketing problem at the very basic. What it needs to do at this point is to revamp the entire marketing function at the company. The co-founders do not come from a marketing background. Perhaps this might be the reason they have done such a shoddy job at this function. Moving forward, the company needs to hire a professional marketing official to help with this function. This could be a single experienced employee tasked with setting up a professional marketing department at the organization. This way, the company will begin to strike the right chords in the marketing field. It will soon realize better profitability in the market with an increased level of awareness among its target market. Business

Spin-off option

            The company also has the option to sell off this brand to a more experienced operator. Its idea is innovative and it will not be long before competitors counter its move in the market. In the event of a sophisticated competitor picking up the idea, the company might lose its loyal following in the market. One of the options to extinguish such a possibility would be to sell the brand to an established operator with sufficient resources to undertake efficient marketing. In this regard, it could still retain a percentage of the profits while leaving the marketing hustle to the major operator.

Expect Results

A decision to focus on branding will entail discarding the gimmick portraying the Cowgirl Chocolate brand as a product for macho individuals. The company must focus on tried and tested branding avenues. The best alternative for this strategy would be to focus on the quality and value-addition attributes. The marketing message will also have to adopt this information to increase the level of market awareness. Such an alternative will require pairing with a premium price strategy (Khan, 94). As mentioned, customers associate highly-priced options with superior quality and vice-versa. Therefore, it cannot present high-quality products using a low-cost strategy. The premium price strategy must accompany the branding aspect.

Home deliveries

Opting for home deliveries will be a great move. However, it will require discarding the third-party distribution model. To some extent, this could be a wrong move. Therefore, the company must find ways to constitute a hybrid distribution strategy where its home deliveries and third-party retailers work hand-in-hand to guarantee success. Business

Mergers and acquisitions

In case it goes ahead with the mergers and acquisitions to present a united marketing front, then it might have to make adjustments to the existing marketing campaign. It cannot insist on implementing its rigid operations. With new partners on board, it will have to make compromises, some of which have the potential to totally alter its marketing message, branding, or offerings. On the other hand, it could opt to settle for enhanced production capacity. However, the company will have to channel substantial amounts toward this venture. The end result will be that some marketing operations will suffer in the short term (Wieland, 52). However, it will stand better operational efficiency in the future after recovering the sunken costs in the acquisition of the production equipment.

Impacts

If it chooses to diversify its product offering, this will come with monumental impacts. For instance, the marketing must become aggressive to reach out to each target market segment. The bulk of its marketing budget must go toward financing the revamped marketing activities. What is more, there will be a need to expand the target market to include several others that might prefer the resultant variety at the organization. Finally, a low-cost strategy will imply that the company must discard the premium positioning strategy. It must ensure that it targets customers who are always on the lookout for price bargains in the market. This way, it will stand to turn around the company’s fortunes by increasing the sales volumes considerably. Business

Conclusion

Cowgirl chocolate seems like a company with superior quality products that has yet to fully tap the potential in the chocolate industry. The company is still struggling years after rolling out operations and several awards handed to its innovative product. However, the company must settle on a definite strategy to usher in a new era. It remains the hope of the report that the company will make an informed decision toward this end. It must analyze the possible alternatives presented above before settling on one with the best promise. In any case, the company should not remain too rigid about its identity or future direction. All decisions must seek to provide the best returns to its operations. Business

Works Cited

Jackson, Graham, and Vandana Ahuja. “Dawn of the Digital Age and the Evolution of the            Marketing Mix.” Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice, vol. 17, no. 3,        2016, pp. 170-186

Khan, Muhammad T. “The Concept of ‘Marketing Mix’ and its Elements (A Conceptual Review Paper).” International Journal of Information, Business and Management, vol. 6, no. 2,      2014, pp. 95-107

Sharma, Yukti, and ReshmaNasreen. “Perceived Consumer-Centric Marketing- Mix at the

Urban Bottom of The Pyramid- An Empirical Study Of Non-Core Food Items.” International Journal of Information, Business and Management, vol. 10, no. 1, 2018, pp. 89-107

Venkatesan, Rajkumar, et al. “Consumer Brand Marketing through Full- and Self-Service            Channels in an Emerging Economy.” Journal of Retailing, vol. 91, no. 4, 2015, pp. 644-           659

Wieland, Juergen. “SME Marketing Mix Standardization in the B2B Market.” Journal of Management Policy and Practice, vol. 19, no. 1, 2018, pp. 45-55

Trifles

Trifles

How people live and interact

In every society, there exist human complexities that largely define how people live and interact with one another. In her play titled “Trifles”, Susan Glaspell captures the inherent social tensions that pervade the psyches of the people of a local community. Mr. Wright, a local farmer is dead, and his wife has been arrested because she is a person of interest in the murder investigation. George Henderson, the County Attorney and Henry Peters, the Sheriff have taken charge of the case while Lewis Hale, a neighbour of the Wrights is the witness. As the search for evidence goes on, the men display absolute incompetence needed to solve a serious crime of this magnitude. Meanwhile, the women, despite their lack of training in such matters, they show a knack of perceptiveness of mind needed to crack the case wide open. Therefore, through their actions and behaviours, the characters in “Trifles” reveal the attendant male chauvinism, oppression, and justice that inform the play.

Negative perceptions men have towards women

Firstly, the play depicts the negative perceptions men have towards women. For instance, Mrs. Peters and Mrs. Hale are portrayed as bystanders in the murder investigation and the men do seem to think they have anything positive to contribute to the case. This is exemplified by Mr. Hale’s hasty dismissal of the women’s concerns as trifles when they point out about Mrs. Wright’s worries about her preserves. The County Attorney too doesn’t seem to hold women highly either, and his observation about the dirty towels when he says that “Not much of a housekeeper, would you say, ladies?” points to his disdain towards Mrs. Wright’s ability to perform her household duties. Mrs. Hale is quick to dismiss the lawyer’s assumptions noting that men are not particularly clean themselves. It is important to note that for a long time, a woman’s place has always been considered to be in the home and kitchen. Women were expected to perform certain roles that pertain to their gender, including cooking, washing and raising children. Therefore, the male characters in this play display chauvinistic tendencies towards women who they castigate for concerning themselves with trivialities instead of the bigger picture.

Silence to women voices

Secondly, writing during the period in which women’s voices were largely silenced, Glaspell brings out the social oppression that afflicted many women in the 19th century. Mrs. Wright, formerly Minnie foster, was an active member of a local choir with a beautiful voice. Before her marriage to Mr. Wright, she loved to dress smartly and loved life. In reference to Mrs. Wright’s former life, Mrs. Hale quips thus “I wish you’d seen Minnie Foster when she wore a white dress with blue ribbons and stood up there in the choir and sang.” However, thirty years into her marriage, her life has changed drastically and now she is has neglected herself to the point that she doesn’t care what she wears anymore. Mrs. Hale describes Mr. Wright as being close and a hard man, and blames him for his wife’s tribulations. Mrs. Wright is portrayed as a socially isolated woman who finds solace in her Canary. For instance, her residence is set “down in a hollow and you don’t see the road”, she not a member of the Ladies Aid, and her home is such a lonely place. Mrs. Hale regrets not making any attempts to visit Minnie Foster, perhaps to show solidarity with her suffering. Therefore, “Trifles” highlights the disenfranchisement of women in a patriarchal society that violates their fundamental human rights and largely looks down upon their social well-being.  

Gender roles

Thirdly, the writer brings to the fore issues pertaining to gender roles as they were perceived and interpreted in the early 20th century. Arguably, every human society has in one way or another interpreted gender roles within the boundaries of its own laws, norms, standards, and traditions. Largely, these interpretations have had a high degree of similarity, and the gender roles are almost the same across different societies. For instance, women are regarded as the weaker sex that needed the protection of men, and their mandate in terms of social obligations does not extend beyond the home. This clearly demonstrated by the musings of the men and women characters in the Glaspell’s play. For instance, when the County Attorney asks the Sherriff if he noticed anything that may be of importance in unravelling the case in the kitchen, Mr. Peters says that they was nothing of significance, only “kitchen things”. The men seem to blame Mrs. Wright for the state of her home which they find describe as untidy. However, the women seem to challenge this notion held by men. For example when the County Attorney accuses Mrs. Wright of not being a good housekeeper, Mrs. Hale’s counters his remarks by saying that “There’s a great deal of work to be done on a farm”. Apart from being expected to manage the home, women were also required to work in the farmlands, a reality that is reflected in our contemporary societies where women bear almost all the responsibilities of food production in most parts of the world. Notably, even the women in the play seem to agree that the home and especially the kitchen is a woman’s place. For instance, Mrs. Hale says that “I’d hate to have men coming into my kitchen, snooping around and criticising.” Such kind of sentiments indicates that women of the time had come to accept their place in society as dictated by social expectations. Therefore, Glaspell has managed to portray the existence of gender roles in early 20th century and how they defined people’s standing in society.

Facets of justice

Lastly, Glaspell has managed to point out the different facets of justice as perceived by men and women within the same social setting. The local enforcement officers with the help of Mr. Hale are trying to piece together evidence that will be crucial in bringing the perpetrator to justice. Mrs. Peters has accompanied the men to gather a few items that Mrs. Wright requested for and Mrs. Hale is there to assist.  The law enforcement officers are determined to find the evidence that point to the motive of the crime, but they seem to make no headway. Mr. Hale’s narration of the events, especially on Mrs. Wright’s behaviour seems to suggest that she is guilty, but there is no physical evidence regarding the same. It is the women who, despite being accused by the men of noticing trifles, discover crucial details after careful examination of house, that establish the motive of the murder and the culprit, including the half cleaned table, badly sewed quilt, the broken bird cage, and the dead Canary. However, Mrs. Hale and Mrs. Peters hide the evidence from the authorities to protect Mrs. Wright. Their actions are a statement of loyalty to one of their own, and perhaps an acknowledgement that Mr. Wright’s death was of his own making. Susan Glaspell’s play “Trifles” is a depictionentually get justice for all the cruelty her husband has subjected her to.

Paternalistic beliefs and traditions

Susan Glaspell’s play “Trifles” is a depiction of the male chauvinism, oppression, gender roles, and injustices that women suffer due to paternalistic beliefs and traditions. A careful examination of every human society will reveal the social expectations in regard to the male and female gender roles. For the most part, women have been relegated to the home, kitchen, and taking care of their families. The men on the other hand are expected to provide for their families and thus work outside the home. Largely, women are considered to be inferior to the men in all aspects, hence have little to contribute when it comes to critical issues affecting human beings. In this regard, the male characters in the play look down upon the women as people incapable of recognizing important issues that matter, and are openly disdainful of the ‘trifles’ that women are preoccupied with.  However, it is the small details that men dismiss that are actually important to the case. The cruel treatment that Mr. Wright subjects his wife to eventually drives her to the edge and she kills him. The two women have made an important connection of Mrs. Wright’s involvement in the murder but have decided to hide the evidence from the law. Therefore, the play highlights women’s tribulations in a paternalistic society and their quest to get justice on their own terms.

Corrections System

The United States corrections system

The correctional system

The correctional system is part of the criminal justice system which encompasses the judicial system and the law enforcement. Throughout human history, the correctional system also referred to as the penal system or prison system has served as a means of punishing criminal elements in society. However, over time, the correction system’s functions have changed, and according to Russo, Drake, Shaffer and Jackson (2017), “Retribution, deterrence, incapacitation, and rehabilitation are often cited as the primary purposes of the corrections sector” (3). It has been noted that the term “corrections” is usually used by both the state and federal criminal justice systems to refer to all the agencies involved in supervising people who are in a state of either probation, parole, rehabilitation, or incarceration (CorrectionalOfficer.Org, 2018). Moreover, the corrections system is also involved in ensuring that convicted individuals have access to educational programs and health services while in jail or prison as well as counselling services to prepare those released for a smooth transition into their communities.  Therefore, the corrections system intended purposes include punishing criminal offenders, deterring people from engaging in crime, and reforming inmates so that they become better and responsible citizens. Corrections System

Justice

The police, criminal courts, and the corrections system work hand in hand to promote justice for both the victims and offenders.  The three arms of the American government are involved in ensuring that the criminal justice system delivers on its mandate. According to SAGE Publications, Inc. (2019), the executive is responsible for running the agencies, the legislature for making laws and allocation of financial resources while the judiciary is in charge of law violation review and sentencing those found guilty of breaking the law. It is important to note that the United States corrections system is not a singular entity, but an amalgamation of agencies and systems that are governed by rule of law, relevant administration policies, and an array of constitutional requirements (SAGE Publications, Inc., 2019). For instance, the American corrections system is constituted of a federal system, different state systems, and several county corrections systems, with each system having a role in the whole system.   Within the American corrections system, there are other important players, including public agencies, for profit and non-profit organizations, the community, volunteers, academics, and professional associations that offer a variety of services the inmates (SAGE Publications, Inc., 2019).  Notably, the correctional facilities in the U.S. is owned and managed by both the government and private companies. Therefore, the American corrections system encompasses a variety of agencies and stakeholders who ensure that the system is accountable, transparent, fair, and upholds the provisions of the American Constitution.  

Differences between prisons and jails

To most people, the terms “prison” and “jail” mean the same thing, but they are actually refer to two different correctional facilities. According to the Government of Hawaii (2016), a jail refers to a facility that is used to detain individuals awaiting trial. Usually, these are people who fail to meet the bail requirements as set by the court or are unable to pay the bail. However, a jail can also used to hold individuals who have been found guilty and sentenced for a shorter duration of time. On the other hand, a prison a correctional facility used to incarcerate individuals who have been sentenced to serve lengthy periods of time behind bars. According to Schlanger (2003), a jail is a city or County facility

Jail

A jail is paradigmatically a county or city facility that holds “pretrial defendants who are unable to make bail, misdemeanant offenders, relatively short-term felony offenders…, and short and long-term offenders awaiting transfer to a state prison” (42). In contrast, a prison is a state or federal correctional facility used to house long-term criminal offenders. Schlanger (2003) points out that jails and prisons differ in many ways, but the three most important areas include the following:

Size

The size of jails is usually smaller than that of prisons, and hence jails hold fewer people on average day compared to prisons. The construction of prisons is designed to detain convicts for longer durations as well as provide enough space for various inmate activities, including playgrounds, accommodation, laundry, and eating areas among others during their stay. Therefore, prisons have a higher Average Daily Population compared to jails.

Population and Population flow

One of the most outstanding differences between jails and prisons is perhaps there admission rates. Schlanger (2003) notes that jails generally detain and release inmates whereas prisons confine convicted felons for an extended period of time. According to Zeng (2018), as at midyear 2016, the city and county jails across the United States held approximately 740, 700 inmates, accounting for “229 jail inmates per 100,000 U.S. residents at midyear 2016, down from 259 per 100,000 residents at midyear 2007” (1). On the other hand, there were 1,506,800 prisoners housed in federal and state correctional facilities in the United States as at 31 December 2016, representing “450 prisoners per 100,000 U.S. residents of all ages and 582 per 100,000 U.S. residents age 18 or older” (Carson, 2018, p. 1). In terms of admissions, Zeng (2018) notes that in 2016, there were 10.6 million jail admissions in the U.S. In regard to prison admissions, there number of new inmates decreased by 2,300 in 2016 compared to 2015 (Carson, 2018). Therefore, there is a high rate of turnover of inmates in jails than prisons across the United States.

Political setting

The administration and management of jails and prisons falls under particular jurisdiction which is usually a political and/or geographic region. These regions exist at the local, state and federal level. According to Newton (2010), the local jurisdictions are categorized into county (also known as parishes in Louisiana and boroughs in Alaska) and municipal (town or city) jurisdictions. Bigger towns or cities usually manage their own criminal justice system that comprises of law enforcement agencies, courts, and jails whereas smaller towns depend on the county sheriff and jails to incarcerate lawbreakers due to their limited resources. It is important to note that in the past, sheriffs were normally career enforcement officers or politicians who selected on the basis of their proven record in crime prevention and public safety rather than corrections or detention (Schlanger, 2003). However, according to Kennard (as cited in Schlanger, 2003), sheriffs are nowadays pursuing professionalism in the area of corrections in line with the requirements of correctional reforms.

Governor’s office

In America, the Governor’s office plays an important role in the prison system, especially in regard to the implementation of relevant laws (Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations, 1984). For instance, the director of corrections, who is usually a career correctional official, is appointed by the Governor. Prison officials are chosen on the premise of their expertise in corrections (Schlanger, 2003). On the other hand, the federal jurisdiction covers the whole of the United States, possessions, and its foreign territories (Newton, 2010). Another differentiating factor is that prisons are funded by the state and federal government which have adequate resources while jails are financed by county commissions, which generally have fewer resources and means of raising revenue.

Strengths and weakness of the American correctional system

The United States corrections system, which comprises of jails, prisons and juvenile detention centres is arguably the largest in the world. According to O’connor (2014), the number of people incarcerated in the United States exceeds that of China and Russia put together. Similarly, Butorac, Gracin and Stanić (2017) posit that the United Sates accounts for about 5 percent of the total world population and yet it detains approximately 25 percent of the total prisoners worldwide. According to the International Centre for Prison Studies (2012), the United States has the highest per capita imprisonment rate at 715 per 100,000 people. The existence of the U.S. corrections system is aimed at enabling the American society deal with criminal behavior through punishment, rehabilitation, deterrence, and incapacitation. However, it faces a myriad of challenges that make the achievement of a crime-free society a daunting task.

Strengths of the U.S. corrections system

The correctional system in the United States has been able to achieve a number of milestones despite the inherent problems it faces. Firstly, the increased rates of incarceration in the United States have enhanced public safety. This has been attributed to the fact that prisons act as a deterrent to actual and potential criminals, thereby reducing potential criminality (Raphael & Stoll, 2014). The imprisonment of criminal offenders removes them from society hence making it safer. Therefore, incapacitation, solitary confinement, and retribution are meant to punish criminals for their offenses as they serve their prison sentences.

Prison programs

Secondly, prison programs such as parole, probation, and rehabilitation give criminals a chance to reform and enhance their re-integrated into their communities. Rehabilitation is intended to enable reformed inmates to positively contribute to society (SAGE Publications, Inc., 2019). In addition, individuals on parole and probation are under supervision as they are released from jails and prison and have an opportunity to be close to their families and community members. As they interact with others, cohesive social ties are formed and maintained ensuring that they don’t engage in criminal activities.

Programs during incarceration

Lastly, correctional facilities offer a variety of programs to prisoners during their incarceration. According to Duwe (2017), these programs comprise a wide range of interventions and services, including educational programs and treatment services for sex offenders and substance abuse among others. The provision of these programs and services is aimed at improving prisoners’ behavior during the pre and post release period. it has been noted that “institutional programming is often intended to not only enhance public safety by lowering recidivism, but also to promote greater safety within prisons by reducing misconduct” (Duwe, 2017, p. 1).  Therefore, the United States correctional system is focused on promoting public safety through incarceration, rehabilitation, retribution, parole, probation, educational, and healthcare services programs

Weaknesses of the U.S. corrections system

Despite the importance of the U.S. corrections system in reducing crime, it faces a lot of constraints that limits the achievement of its constitutional mandate. Firstly, one of the biggest largest problems that the system faces is the issue of overcrowding (Austin & Coventry, 2001; O’connor, 2014). U.S. prisons and jails accommodate criminal offenders who have committed a variety of offenses, including economic crimes, murder, drug trafficking, jaywalking, traffic offenses, theft, immigration crimes, terrorism, and money laundering among others (O’connor, 2014). Due to the large number of prisoners, the correctional systems, housing has become a major problem in U.S. jails and prisons.

Other Dangers

As a result of overcrowding, inmates are increasing predisposed to other dangers, including mental suicidal tendencies, violence (aggravated assaults, murder, rape), and mental illnesses (Schlanger, 2003). According to the American Civil Liberties Union (2015), beginning in the mid 1970s, the state and federal governments have enacted laws that have encouraged draconic sentences and parole programs designed to condemn increasing number of people into prisons for years. These legislations include the “mandatory minimum sentencing, which forces judges to issue severe sentences regardless of individual factors meriting leniency, and three-strikes laws, which expand the number of crimes subject to life and life-without-parole sentences” (American Civil Liberties Union, 2015, p. 2). This has resulted in the incarceration of individuals for long periods of time and limited any chance of release thereby causing increase in inmate populations.  

Large prison and jail populations

Secondly, due to the large prison and jail populations, the United Sates government has been forced to spend billions of dollars running correctional facilities. The huge budgetary allocations to the correctional system surpass other useful programs, and are largely unsustainable (O’connor, 2014). Thirdly, re-entry into society has proven to be a challenge for most inmates leaving prison. For instance, apart from the need to adequately adjust to a changed social environment after decades of incarceration, prisoners are faced with legal barriers that hinder their access to basic necessities such as employment, housing, higher education, and temporary support programs such as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (American Civil Liberties Union, 2015). These barriers contribute to released prisoners’ engaging in criminal activities to survive, hence the high rate of recidivism.

Understaffed and overwhelmed facilities

Lastly, correctional facilities are understaffed and the official overwhelmed by the responsibilities placed upon them (SAGE Publications, Inc., 2019). It is important to note that overcrowded jails and prisons provide the necessary ingredients for potentially explosive situations, including riots, violence, racial tensions, and drug smuggling and use. These circumstances lead to prison officials using extreme measures such as solitary confinement to handle the difficult situations in correctional facilities, which further complicate the management of correctional facilities.

Conclusion

The United States correctional system is part of the criminal justice system whose mandate is to ensure public safety through crime prevention and deterrence. Jails and prisons serve to detain suspected criminal offenders until proven innocent or guilty as well to hold convicted individuals as they serve their custodial sentences. Jails and prisons differ in terms of their size, population and inmate admissions, and political setting or administration. The United States has the largest number of prisoner incarceration in the world. This has provided both opportunities and challenges for the correctional system as it discharges its constitutional mandate.

Reforming convicted felons

In terms of opportunities, the system has managed to provide several programs aimed at reforming convicted felons. These include healthcare, educational, rehabilitation, parole, and probation programs that promote smooth transition from prison into society. However, the correctional system faces a myriad of problems such as overcrowding, huge budgetary needs, understaffing, and prison re-entry problems. Therefore, there is need for the United Sates government to come up ways of reducing the large prison population, recruitment of more corrections officials, and programs to enhance prison re-entry.

References

Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. (1984). Jails: Intergovernmental dimensions of a local problem. Retrieved from www.library.unt.edu/gpo/acir/Reports/policy/a-94.pdf

 Austin, J., & Coventry, G. (2001). Emerging issues on privatized prisons. Retrieved from

https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/bja/181249.pdf

Butorac, K., Gracin, D., & Stanić, N. (2017). The challenges in reducing criminal recidivism. Public Security and Public Order, 18, 115-131.

Carson, E. A. (2018). Prisoners in 2016. Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ji16.pdf

CorrectionalOfficer.Org (2018). The U.S. correctional system defined. Retrieved from https://www.correctionalofficer.org/us-correctional-system

Duwe, G. (2017). The use and impact of correctional programming for inmates on pre- and post-release outcomes. Retrieved fromhttps://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/250476.pdf.

Government of Hawaii. (2016). Future of the Oahu Community Correctional Center: What is the difference between a Prison and a Jail? Retrieved from https://dps.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/OCCC-Jails-vs-Prisons-handout_v5.pdf.

International Centre for Prison Studies. (2012). World Prison Brief. London: International Centre for Prison Studies.

Newton, M. (2010). Criminal justice: Prison and the penal system. New York: Chelsea House Publishers.

O’connor, R. (2014). The United States prison system: A comparative analysis (Masters’ thesis, University of South Florida, Florida, United States). Retrieved from http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/etd/5086/.

Russo, J., Drake, G., Shaffer, J., &  Jackson, B. (2017). Envisioning an alternative future for the corrections sector within the U.S. criminal justice system. Retrieved from https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/…/RAND_RR1720.pdf

SAGE Publications, Inc. (2019). The corrections system. retrieved from https://us.sagepub.com/sites/default/files/upm-binaries/90140_krsiberg_Chapter_1.pdf

Schlanger, M. (2003). Differences between jails and prisons. Retrieved from https://www.law.umich.edu/facultyhome/margoschlanger/Documents/Resources/The_Difference_Between_Jails_and_Prisons%20.pdf.

Raphael, S., & Stoll, M. (2014). Do prisons make us safer?. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Zeng, Z. (2018). Jail inmates in 2016. Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ji16.pdf

HRM Practices

United States vs. China: HRM Practices

Globalization and technological advances

The workplace has become increasingly culturally diversified as a result of globalization and technological advances. Multinational companies with a global footprint in many countries have, as a matter of necessity, recruited into their rank and file employees from different cultural backgrounds. Consequently, these companies are tapping into the vast experiences, knowledge, skills and behaviors of this diverse workforce for organizational performance. However, the cultural differences are also a source of concern due to the inherent disparities in values, norms, standards and ethical practices that these employees uphold. In order to understand the implications of national culture on workplace practices, a look at Hofstede’s cultural dimensions is illuminative. The five cultural dimensions developed by Hofstede (1991) include power distance, collectivism versus individualism, femininity versus masculinity, uncertainty avoidance and long-term versus short-term orientation. Therefore, the five dimensions are crucial in the understanding of the differences in human resource practices between the United States and China. HRM Practices

Hofstede graded countries using a score of 0 to 100 for each cultural attribute with a higher score indicating that that particular dimension was demonstrated more in that society.

Power distance (PD)

Power distance as a cultural dimension is a measure of the existing inequality in a particular society in terms of prestige, wealth and power. A country with a high score in power distance means that there are visible and distinct categories of employees characterized by differences in power, status, remuneration, benefits and promotions. In countries with a low power distance score, these differences are blurred and every employee is treated as an equal within the organization. The United States has a low PD compared to China hence there are seminal differences in human resource management practices. HRM Practices

A flat structure in organizations

In the U.S. most organizations have a flat structure and the management and employees are all considered valuable assets to the company. Employees work as a team in the achievement of organizational goals, and decision-making is a joint effort. Employee promotions, benefits, and salaries are pegged on merit. In addition, everyone in the organization is aware of what needs to be done, when, and how it should be done (House, Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004). In China, every employee has clearly defined role and responsibility and is expected to act and behave in accordance with his or her position in the organization. Employee involvement in organizational activities is hampered by age-old values, and as it has been noted, “The Confucian doctrine of “maintaining harmony” advises that people not cross their personal boundaries of responsibility or interfere in another’s business” (Akhtar, Ding & Ge 2008, p. 28). In this context, organizations in china are largely centralized, have distinct hierarchies, and there exist disparities in terms of remuneration, power and authority within the organization.

Collectivism versus individualism

The United States’ capitalistic ideology encourages individualism in which people’s time and freedoms are highly valued. People work hard towards personal achievement and there is little room for collective efforts. The wellbeing of an individual comes first before that of the community or society. In this context, HRM practices in the U.S. promote personal achievement which is appropriately rewarded. According to Warner (2013), the traditional Chinese belief systems of Legalism and Confucianism have for many centuries informed China’s collectivist values. Among the Chinese, community needs comes first before personal needs. The Chinese work towards the achievement of social cohesion and integration in their society. Traditions are highly regarded as seen in respect for authority, age and rank. Team work is encouraged and emphasis placed on skill development, and achievement of harmonious co-existence.

Femininity versus masculinity

The Chinese society is inclined towards patriarchal dominance in which males expected to lead, manage and provide for their families. Women are viewed as incapable of performing certain duties and hence are relegated to taking care of the home. In this respect, men occupy significant positions in organizations where they are the main decision makers, are well paid and compensated whereas women occupy lowly positions and are poorly paid. In America, men and women are largely regarded as equals and any job a man can do, a woman can also do as well. American organizations have women in senior positions where they make critical decisions regarding the direction a business enterprise should take. HRM practices in the U.S. have overcome gender stereotypes hence decisions to select, recruit, remunerate, and promote are all based on one’s capability. The propagation of gender inequality goes against universal human rights and should be avoided.

Uncertainty avoidance

Uncertainty avoidance refers to the extent to which members of a particular community feel anxious about uncertain situations. In countries with low uncertainty avoidance scores such as the United States, HRM practices are characterized by adoption of informal business attitudes, embracing of change, and a focus on daily activities. In nations with high uncertainty avoidance such as China, HRM practices are premised on observance of rules and policies, and formal structures of operation. Everything is tightly controlled and bureaucracy is the norm. Therefore, HRM practices in China tend to be rigid to change and avoids risk taking. Therefore, low uncertainty avoidance is better as it enabled organizations easily adapt to inevitable change.

Long-term versus short-term orientation

This dimension is concern with how a given society views its values and traditions, long-term or short-term. The United States has a low Long-term orientation while China has a high long-term orientation. Within the United States, the focus of HRM practices is on individual rather than communal achievement, enhancement of equality in the workplace, and encouragement of creativity and innovation in organizations. This is contrary to China’s HRM practices whose mainstay is promotion of traditions and social wellbeing, male dominance is encouraged and respect for rank and file.

Conclusion

Cultural differences have a significant impact on HRM practices in many countries. Hofstede’s five cultural dimensions are informative in the understanding the HRM practices witnessed in organization in various countries. The national culture determines a society’s values and standards of doing things. The history of the United States and China’s HRM practices are influenced by certain ideologies such as capitalism and Confucianism respectively, and they play a critical role in defining how organizations behave. Therefore, it is important for an organization’s leadership to understand these cultural differences if they are to successfully compete in foreign markets.

References

Akhtar, S, Ding, DZ., & Ge, GL 2008, ‘Strategic HRM practices and their impact on company

performance in Chinese enterprises’, Human Resource Management, vol. 47, no. 1, pp. 15-32.

Hofstede, G 1980, Culture’s Consequences: International differences in work-related values, Sage, London.

House, RJ, Hanges, PJ, Javidan, M, Dorfman, PW & Gupta, V 2004, Culture, leadership and

organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies, Sage, London.

Warner, M 2013, Comparing human resource management in China and Vietnam: An overview. Available from: <https://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/fileadmin/user_upload/research/workingpapers/wp1303.pdf.>. [18 September 2018].

Automated Machine

Vending Machine Business

Use of automated machine

The vending machine business involves the use of automated machines in dispensing various products such as cigarettes, books, snacks, beverages, condoms, stamps, newspapers, lottery tickets, marijuana, change, photos, and automobile parking among others to customers at a price. The development of the vending machine can be traced back to the 1st century when Heron of Alexandria invented the first machine that was used to dispense holy water so that people did not take more than their fare share (Jaffe, 2006; Higuchi, 2007). It has been noted that by 1615 cigarette vending technology was available in English hostels and pubs, and later designs availed machines that sold postage stamps, books, and other products though they were not commercially viable (Higuchi, 2007). According to Bellis (2019), Percival Everitt invented the first coin-operated vending machines in 1883, and sold postcards, envelopes, and notepaper in England. In the United States, these machines were introduced by the Thomas Adams Gum company in 1888 to sell Tutti-Fruiti gum in New York City. Later on, the vending machine business expanded in across several cities in the U.S. as a variety of products such as postcards, food, cigars, beverages, and stamps were dispensed through these machines (Bellis, 2019). Arguably, the popularity of the credit cards as an alternative to use of coins to operate vending machines has enhanced the sale of high-priced specialty products, including over-the-counter medicines, electronic gadgets, automobiles, life insurance, fishing bait, books, internet time, and hot foods. Therefore, the vending business offers several investment opportunities for start-up businesses which are ready to take acquire a market niche for themselves.

Market Analysis of Vending Machine Business

The vending machine business is also known as automatic retailing is increasingly adapting to the changing technology in order to survive in today’s cutthroat business environment. From the manually operated vending machines that existed in the 1st century to today’s smart devices, the vending business provides new frontiers for investment. In the period between 2019 to 2023, Business Wire (2018) notes that the latest report from Technavio analysts indicate that “the global vending machine market to grow at a CAGR of close to 17% during the forecast period” (par. 1). This growth is as shown in the figure 1 below.Automated Machine

Figure 1. Chart showing global vending machine projections. Adapted from “Global Vending Machine Market Analysis & Forecast 2017-2023, With an Expected CAGR of 15.8% – ResearchAndMarkets.com,” by Business Wire, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20181203005602/en/Global-Vending-Machine-Market-2019-2023-17-CAGR.

The global automatic retailing business

The global automatic retailing business has increasingly witnessed the adoption of intelligent vending machines, a trend that promises a brighter future for this market niche.  Arguably, in contrast to the traditional vending machines that are used to dispense products, “intelligent vending machines have advanced features such as operations and inventory management, customer analytics, transaction management, software and platform management, and digital advertising and content management systems” (Business Wire, 2018, par. 1). The machines use internet-based data gathering software to collect crucial customer-related information. Additionally, the collection, transfer, and analysis of data by these machines allow retailers to concentrate on ensuring that products are of high quality as well as their prompt distribution. Furthermore, intelligent vending machines support the real-time tracking of business operations, including inventory, sales, and footfalls. Examples of these intelligent vending machines include Civic Pay App (AR Systems, Fastcorp Vending, AAEON, Global Vending Group etc), tobacco vending machines (Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp.), cryptocurrency beer vending machine (civic), and Social-networked vending machines. Other vending machines that will revolutionize the industry include those that customize and prepare food; online-based machines for ordering products; and machines that provide health and nutritional education (Lee, 2016). Therefore, the adoption of smart vending machines is expected to ensure the exponential growth of the vending machine business globally in the years 2019 to 2023. Automated Machine

How to establish a vending machine business in Michigan

There are several business opportunities in the vending machine sector, and all it requires is the right strategy and commitment to succeed.  The state of Michigan has enacted several laws that regulate the vending business. For instance, the Randolph-Sheppard Act has provisions that require that vending facilities locate on federal property shall be allocated to people with blind persons. People interested in starting a vending machine business in Michigan should acquaint themselves with the laws that govern the selling and distribution of tobacco products especially in regard to enforcement, public places, exceptions, violations, prohibitions, misdemeanor, and penalties.  According to HealthYou Vending (2019), there are six steps towards establishing the vending business, and they include the following:

Deciding the Reasons for Venturing into the Vending Business

Before embarking on a vending machine business, it is advisable to establish reasons why one wants to start this kind of business venture. Some of the reasons for entering into the vending market include: becoming your own boss whereby there is no superior person to answer to, avoiding being micromanaged, choosing your own business vision, and being able to work the way you want; no profit sharing; having the freedom to venture into other passions; being able to determine your own destiny; and contributing to the betterment of society through healthy and quality products.

Choosing the right Vending Equipment

There are a variety of vending machines available in the market nowadays. Before buying a vending machine, look at all the available alternatives, and the best place to start searching include vending machine manufacturers and wholesalers, secondary market sellers, and buying and selling platforms such as eBay and Craigslist (Spencer, 2018). The market search for the appropriate equipment gives the buyer a wider range of products to choose from for the business. It is also important to note that these machines depend on the type of vending one is interested in, including food and beverage, and specialty among others. Automated Machine

Finding and Securing the Appropriate Vending Machine Locations

The location in which a vending business is situated is one of the factors that determine its profitability. Places in which there is sizeable human traffic such as schools, apartment complexes, airports, libraries, health facilities, grocery stores, office buildings, and recreational centers offer ideal locations for a vending business. These locations should be secured by contacting the relevant authorities in charge of giving permission to operate in such areas.

Choosing the Right Products for the Business

The success of the vending business will also depend on the type of products one is selling to the customers who vary in terms of age, preferences, and health needs. Nowadays, people have become sensitized about healthy dietary intakes thus stoking healthy foods is recommended. However, it is essential to establish the customer base so as to come up with a satisfactory product mix that meets the needs of all customers, and the factors to consider include taste, cost, nutritional value, brand recognition, and novelty.

Figure 2. Pie chart showing the micro market sales of various products. Adapted from “Themany benefits of micro markets, including revenue growth,” by Nayax, 2019. Retrieved from https://www.nayax.com/workplace-micro-market/

Providing the Proper Customer Service

It is important to establish good relationships with the customer, for referrals will come naturally. The areas where customer service should be exemplary include communication, machine maintenance, product optimizations, and direct engagement with your customers. Automated Machine

Choosing the Right Startup Vending Business Option

After ensuring that the above five issues are addressed, it is time to choose the best vending business option. The type of business one will start will depend on his or her goals, capital, and personal circumstances, that is, is the business a part-time or full-time venture, partnership, or an individual startup.

Conclusion

The vending machine business has had a long history starting in the 1st century to what it is today. It is a profitable market niche that can be exploited by people who are ready to venture into this multi-billion industry. Before starting the vending business, an individual should take into consideration the six steps towards establishing a successful business venture. These steps include: determining the reasons for entering into this line of business, choosing the right equipment, finding and securing the business location, choosing the right products, customer service, and choosing the best vending business. Importantly, one should be familiar with the business regulations in each state. The vending machine business is a multi-billion dollar market with huge potential for growth thus people should take the available opportunities in this industry for good investment returns. Automated Machine

References

Bellis, M. (2019). The history of vending machines. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-history-of-vending-machines-1992599

Business Wire. (2018). Global Vending Machine Market Analysis & Forecast 2017-2023, With an Expected CAGR of 15.8% – ResearchAndMarkets.com. Retrieved from https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20181203005602/en/Global-Vending-Machine-Market-2019-2023-17-CAGR.

HealthyYou Vending. (2019). How to start a vending machine business: A complete guide. Retrieved from http://www.healthyvending.com/guides/how-to-start-a-vending-machine-business/.

Higuchi, Y. (2007). History of the development of beverage vending machine technology in Japan. National Museum of Nature and Science: Survey Reports on the Systemization of Technologies, 7, 1-69.

Jaffe, E. (2006, December n.d). Old world, high tech. Smithsonian.com. Retrieved from https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/old-world-high-tech-141284744/

Lee, B. (2016, April 22). Current and future trends in vending machines. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2016/04/22/current-and-future-trends-in-vending-machines/.

Spencer, M. (2018). How to start a vending machine business. Retrieved from https://www.fundera.com/blog/how-to-start-a-vending-machine-business.

Volcanism and Climate Change

Volcanism and Climate Change: Past and Present

Volcanic eruptions

Volcanic eruptions are natural geological occurrences of varying magnitude and composition that have been continued to be witnessed throughout human history. It has been noted that volcanism has a natural impact on climate change on various timescales (Robock 191). According to Symonds et al., these eruptions emit volcanic ash, gases (H2O, H2SHCL, CO2, HF, SO2, and other compounds), and aerosols into the atmosphere (qtd. in Langmann 1). Arguably, depending on the scale of the eruption, volcanic materials are released into the stratosphere leading to fundamental changes to the climatic system. For instance, sulfurous emissions are converted into sulfate aerosols which impacts on the climate system in various ways, including minimization of incoming solar radiation, global mean surface temperature reduction, stratosphere warming, alteration of ozone layer, and hydrological cycle suppression (LeGrande and Anchukaitis 46). Therefore, past and present volcanic eruptions have had significant disruptive consequences on the earth’s climate system. volcanism and Climate Change

Volcanism and Ancient Climate Change

Ancient volcanic eruptions have been linked to the changes in weather and climatic patterns of the time. Scientists have been able to study and reconstruct the effects of past volcanic events with the help of paleoclimate records obtained through analysis of marine sediments, ice cores, and tree rings (Sigl et al. 48). These records involving past climatic variables such as precipitation and temperature have been fundamental in understanding the climatic system’s response to volcanic forcing factors such as economic eruptions. According to Sigl et al., sulfate depositions in ice cores found in the Antarctica indicate that there was massive cooling that took place during the Common Era as a result of large volcanic eruptions (48). For instance, it has been established that the extremely cold summers that occurred in Europe “in the years 1816, 1453, 1109, 574, and 541 CE” were preceded by large volcanic eruptions (Sigl et al. 49). Therefore, volcanic activities have a post-volcanisms cooling effects on the climate.

Severe droughts

Ancient volcanic activities also had huge impacts on the monsoon system leading to severe droughts in the affected areas. According to Gao, paleo-hydrological studies have established that large volcanic aerosol deposits were experienced in past 2000 years (qtd. in Gao 58), which drastically changed monsoon patterns causing the dry spells experienced in various parts of Asia. Similarly, Forsyth points out that recorded evidence from 2000 years ago indicate that in 44 B.C. Mount Etna erupted and its emissions dimmed the sun, and the cooling effects that followed led to mass crop failure and the consequent famine that followed throughout Egypt and Rome (qtd. in Robock 191). Therefore, volcanic emissions have a cooling effect as they reduce temperatures and minimize solar radiations away from the earth.

Effects on animals and plants

It is important that the climatic changes brought about by volcanic eruptions have far-reaching effects on both animal and plant life. Tree-ring chronologies have established that volcanic eruptions have adverse effects on tree growth. For instance, Churakova et al., argue that during the period AD 516-560, there was remarkable decrease in cell wall thickness and tree width in the past 2000 years. This was attributed to the combined effect of temperature decline and solar radiation minimization. Churakova et al., make the assumption that the low temperatures and decreased vapour pressure could have been responsible for the low stable carbon and oxygen isotopic ratios witnessed in tree rings found in both high altitude and high latitude regions (64). Therefore, volcanic activities were an important cause of various climatic changes in different timescales. Volcanism and Climate Change

Volcanism and Contemporary Climate Change

Volcanic emissions are comprised of various components, including water vapour, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and halogen species (hydrogen chloride, bromide oxide, and hydrogen fluoride) among others. According to Schmidt and Robock, and carbon dioxide and water vapour have negligibe effects on the atmospheric composition as they have insignificant contribution to the existing concentrations of CO2 and H2O (195). Arguably, volcanic ‘outgassing’ is considered to be the source of the current atmosphere. Gerlach posits that anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions account for 35,000 Teragrams annually whereas volcanic activities contribute between 130-440 Teragrams of CO2 (qtd. in Schmidt and Robock 197). It has been noted that the halogen contributions of volcanic emissions has resulted in the increase of stratospheric bromine and chlorine levels, leading to the destruction of the ozone layer (Schmidt and Robock 197). Therefore, volcanic activities contribute less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Volcanism and Climate Change

Adverse climatic changes

Just like in ancient times, volcanic eruptions have had adverse climatic changes in recent times. There is consensus on the effects of volcanic sulphate aerosols in terms of minimizing the amount of solar radiation that reaches the earth’s surface, which in turn leads to temperature reduction, changes in circulation patterns, and the shifts in global climate system. However, Langmann warns that the full extent of the impact of volcanic eruptions on the climate system has not been fully comprehended (1).  Apart from the effects of volcanic sulphate emissions on the stratosphere, volcanic ash induces climatic changes through the modification of the global carbon cycle through ocean iron fertilisation which stimulates phytoplankton growth (Langmann 1). Upon release of volcanic materials into the stratosphere or troposphere, they are carried by wind and modified microphysically and photochemically before they are removed by wet deposition and gravitational settling from the atmosphere. Notably, after an eruption, the presence of a huge load of volcanic ash in the first few weeks has been shown to affect the breadth of the diurnal cycle of surface air temperature (Langmann 2). Therefore, volcanic materials such as volcanic ash affect temperatures changes and aquatic life.

Volcanic ash

It is important to note that volcanic ash has been implicated in the activation of the “biological pump,” in which CO2 is converted into organic carbon which enables organic matter particles to sink to the deep ocean, thereby bringing about reduction in the levels of atmospheric CO2 (Langmann 2). According to Langmann, due to the shorter periods of time that volcanic ash remains in the atmosphere, it limits its direct and indirect effects close to eruption zone and transportation routes in the atmosphere (qtd. in Langmann 6). Notably, the direct effects of volcanic ash is its tendency to disperse incoming solar radiation back into space, thereby invariably leading to lower surface temperatures, a process that counters global warming. However, the sulphate aerosols are known to absorb both terrestrial and solar radiation that heats up the stratosphere (Robock 191). Volcanic ash and sulphate aerosols have been established to have indirect radiative effects as they act as ice nuclei (IN) and cloud condensation nuclei (CCN). These effects are known to affect precipitation and can lead to prolonged presence of water vapour and liquid water in the atmosphere, which may result in heavy precipitation events (Rosenfeld et al. 1309). Therefore, volcanic particles can potentially alter the climate in significant ways. Volcanism and Climate Change

Conclusion  

Volcanic eruptions have been known to have significant climatic changes brought about by the sulfate aerosols, gases, and volcanic ash. In Ancient times, volcanic emissions were responsible for various changes in climate conditions that have been deduced through paleoclimatic records, including decreased radial tree growth, post-volcanic cooling, drought, and monsoon system changes. In recent times, volcanic activities have been associated with stratosphere heating, changes in precipitation patterns, decreased levels of atmospheric CO2, growth of phytoplankton due to iron fertilization of the ocean, and changes in circulatory patterns. Therefore, volcanic eruptions adversely affect climate change as seen in erratic weather patterns which invariably lead to human suffering.

Works Cited

Langmann, Baerbel.  “On the Role of Climate Forcing by Volcanic Sulphate and Volcanic Ash,” Advances in Meteorology, vol. 2014, Article ID 340123, 2014, pp. 1-17, www.hindawi.com/journals/amete/2014/340123/. Accessed 20 November 2018.

LeGrande, Allegra, and Kevin  Anchukaitis. “Volcanic eruptions and climate.”

Pages, vol. 23, no. 2, 2015, pp. 46-47.

Robock, Alan. “Volcanic Eruptions and Climate.” Reviews of Geophysics, vol. 38, no. 2, 2000, pp. 191-219.

Rosenfeld et al. “Flood or drought: how do aerosols affect precipitation?” Science, vol. 321, no. 5894, 2008, pp. 1309–1313.

Schmidt, Anja, and  Alan Robock. “Volcanism, the atmosphere and climate through time.” Volcanism and Global Environmental Change, edited by  Anja Schmidt, Kirsten E. Fristad and Linda T. Elkins-Tanton, Cambridge University Press, 2015, pp. 195-207.

Sigl, Michael et al. “The history of volcanic eruptions since Roman times.” Pages, vol. 23, no. 2, 2015, pp. 48-49.

Walmart

Walmart’s Success and Risk Factors

The biggest retailer in the United States

Arguably, Walmart ranks as the biggest retailer in the United States and is one of the largest conglomerates in the world. The company’s business model that emphasizes low-cost structuring is aimed at offering quality goods and services at low prices. The company has been able to acquire an enviable market position by successfully negotiating with its suppliers to supply quality products at reduced cost, hence ensuring that customers purchase goods at fair prices compared with its competitors. However, the way a company handles its strengths and weaknesses will determine its performance in the face of market uncertainties. In this regard, Walmart’s financial and strategic priorities, nonmonetary factors, and internal risks will largely determine its business decisions as well as its present and future performance.

Walmart’s Financial and Strategic Priorities

Walmart is focused on improving its business operations through implementing business strategies that are geared towards enhancing its customers’ experiences while shopping. According to Walmart (2018), the company offers low prices to its customers and has expanded its online grocery pickup stores to save its clients’ time. In order to maintain its industry position, Walmart come up with a strategic plan code-named Project Impact. This plan is meant to improve customer experience through three key initiatives, including Save Money, Live Better; Win, Play, Show; and Fast, Friendly, Clean (Murray, 2018). Walmart’s “Everyday Low Pricing” is geared towards attaining price leadership that will ensure it competitive advantage over its competitors. However, the continued increment in operating, selling, general, and administrative expenses is a major concern for stakeholders. To win its shareholders and customers, Walmart has developed long-term strategies towards this end, including “strong, efficient growth; consistent operating discipline; and strategic capital allocation” (Walmart, 2018, p. 4). These measures provide a basis for decision-making at Walmart.

Nonmonetary Factors

Nonmonetary factors such as human resources, physical facilities, reputation, and market share are important components for organizational performance. For instance, Walmart takes pride in its culture, values, purpose, and people; for it is the basis upon which the company has been successful and will depend on in the future (Walmart, 2018). According to Walton (1992), “If you want the people in the stores to take care of the customers, you have to make sure you’re taking care of the people in the stores” (p.80).  Walton was the founder of Walmart and he aptly captures the importance of human resources for an organization. Similarly, the company has ensured that its stores clean, friendly, and fast (Walmart, 2017). Therefore, nonmonetary factors can positively impact on an organization’s success and survival in a turbulent business environment.

Internal Risks

In order to meet customer preferences and ensure their satisfaction, Walmart has embarked on digitizing its selling and buying processes in various grocery stores worldwide (Walmart, 2018). For instance, the company has transformed its business operations into digital platforms such as eCommerce, making it easier for both customers and employees to buy and sell goods respectively. According to Walton (as cited in Brea-Solís, Casadesus-Masanell & Grifell-Tatjé, 2012), the adoption of technology by Walmart was meant to minimize costs. However, technology comes with its fair share of challenges and according to Tulenheimo (2015), these include different customer needs, evolving technologies, and, lack of qualified personnel. In addition, there is the ever present threat hackers and power failure. All these challenges are likely to undermine a company’s financial performance.

Conclusion

The success or failure of a company can be determined by its financial and strategic priorities, nonmonetary factors, and internal risks. Walmart has put in place ambitious strategic plan geared towards retaining and expanding its market share. The “Everyday Low Pricing” is meant to attract both the actual and potential customers. In addition, the continued expansion into domestic and foreign markets is geared towards maintaining its financial viability. However, with the rising operational, selling, administrative and general expenses, the company’s financial stability raises concerns among stakeholders. Similarly, the nonmonetary factors can either promote or undermine Walmart’s financial standing. Finally, the adoption of technology promises both opportunities and threats to the company.

References

Murray, M. (2018). Walmart’s strategic initiatives. Retrieved from https://www.thebalancesmb.com/wal-mart-s-strategic-initiatives-2221112.

Tulenheimo, R. (2015). Challenges of implementing new technologies in the world of BIM – Case study from construction engineering industry in Finland. Procedia Economics and Finance, 21, 469-477.

Walmart. (2017). 2017 annual report. Retrieved from https://s2.q4cdn.com/056532643/files/doc_financials/2017/Annual/WMT_2017_AR-(1).pdf.

Walmart. (2018). 2018 annual report. Retrieved from https://s2.q4cdn.com/056532643/files/doc_financials/…/WMT-2018_Annual-Report.pdf

Walton, S. (1992). Sam Walton: Made in America, My story. New York: Doubleday.

Brea-Solís, H., Casadesus-Masanell, R., & Grifell-Tatjé, E. (2012). Business model evaluation: Quantifying Walmart’s sources of advantage. Retrieved from https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/13135315/brea-solis%2Ccasadesus-masanell%2Cgrifell-tatje_business-model-eval_SEJ-12-0963-R3.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y.

Scores

Dropping the Lowest Grade

Student assessment

Student assessment is a compulsory undertaking that instructors must be well prepared for during the course of teaching. Dropping the lowest grade score is one of the grading practices used by faculty members in student assessment. However, it has been argued that this policy has been a subject of debate, for its effects on student behavior and academic performance have not been well established (MacDermott, 2009). There is contradicting evidence in respect to the effects of grade dropping on final grade. For instance, a study by Macdermott (2009) found out that dropping the lowest grade does not artificially inflate a student’s final grade. Some of the effects of grade dropping include alteration of student behavior whereby some under prepare for or forego an exam entirely (Hadsell & MacDermott, 2010). Therefore, there is need for more research in this area to determine the educational impacts of grade dropping in the learning process. Scores

Research evidence

Available research evidence suggests that dropping the lowest grade has its merits and demerits. According to Hadsell and MacDermott (2010), some of the potential advantages of a grade-dropping policy confer on both educators and students include: minimizing student drop-out rates, increases class attendance, cultivates a positive attitude towards the course among students, and reduces the number of make-exams. Consequently, grade-dropping ensures that there are minimal disputes between instructors and students as well as pursuance of course subjects and comprehensive evaluation of courses. In this regard, academic institutions can choose to adopt a policy that allows the dropping the lowest grade for any of the above reasons. Notably, my class does not have such a policy and students are expected to put more effort so that they can attain the required Satisfactory Academic Progress set by the university. Scores

References

Hadsell, L., & MacDermott, R. (2010). Grade dropping, strategic behavior, and student “satisficing”. American Journal of Business Education, 3(7),57-72.

MacDermott, R. (2009). The Effects of dropping a grade in intermediate macroeconomics. New York Economic Review, 40, 40-50.

Teaching Plan

Week 5 DQ

Question 1: State the goal of your one-hour teaching plan

In order to successfully achieve the aims of any educational activity, it is imperative that an educator prepares a lesson plan in advance to guide his or her classroom instruction. Generally, a lesson plan provides an educator with a framework of what is to be learned by students and how this can be undertaken effectively. Arguably, the plan is an “outline of your teaching goals, learning objectives, and means to accomplish them, and is by no means exhaustive” (Singapore Management University, 2019, par. 1). The overarching goal of this lesson plan is to foster the learners’ knowledge and skills about vacuum-assisted wound closure (wound VAC) through computer-assisted learning and simulation.

Question 2: Create two objectives for your teaching plan

A teaching plan must have certain objectives that describe what the students are expected to have learned at the end of the lesson. Importantly, in developing these objectives, they should adhere to the S.M.A.R.T philosophy, that is, they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-oriented (Wayne State University, 2019). Therefore, at the end of the lesson, the student is expected to be able to:

  1. Describe the steps involved in a vacuum-assisted wound closure procedure
  2. Demonstrate how to correctly use the wound VAC simulator

Question 3: Determine how you will utilize the simulation equipment as a teaching strategy

The use of simulation technology equipment in student instruction is a useful teaching strategy that supports the achievement of learning goals and objectives. Simulation allows learners to put their theoretical knowledge into practice in life-like scenarios so that they can acquire the necessary clinical skills and capacities needed in real-life situations. In order to enhance learning, groups 4 to 5 students will be formed and each group will be required to learn the various parts of the wound vacuum system, their uses, and the steps involved in correctly using this device in wound healing.

Question 4: Identify how you will motivate and engage your learners

The achievement of educational goals and objectives is inescapably intertwined with student motivation. It is crucial that teachers motivate and engage their students if learning outcomes are to be realized. Towards this end, a teacher should be able to identify both intrinsic and extrinsic motivational factors that are critical to student learning (Chasteen, 2017). Intrinsic motivation involves ensuring that the learning materials are personally relevant to the learner and cultivating the learners’ sense of control and ownership of the learning process. Additionally, educators should make the learner feel competent and capable, should avoid controlling behavior, and cultivate a conducive learning environment. On the other hand, extrinsic rewards include holding the learner accountable and relying less on grading to incentivize the learners.

Question 5: Plan how you will address resistant learners

Resistance to learning is as a result of several factors, including fear of the unknown, poor student-teacher relationship, low self-esteem on the part of the learner, disconnectedness between teaching and learning goals, poorly designed lesson plans, and differences between student and teacher expectations among others. To effectively address these issues facing resistant learners, it is imperative that the teacher is able to recognize the causes behind the students’ lack of zeal to engage in learning activities and put in place measures to eliminate them, including explaining the goals and objectives of the learning activities, nurturing workable relationship with the students, engaging students in activities they are interested in, motivating the learners, and encouraging interactive learning in the classroom.

Question 6: Propose an evaluation strategy to assess the group’s learning.

It is an educator’s duty and responsibility to develop an effective assessment strategy to be used in evaluating whether the students have learned what they are supposed to at the end of the lesson. To this end, the educator can use classroom assessment techniques to measure the degree to which learning objectives have been attained. The evaluation strategies that will be useful in assessing students include use of sit-in examinations that comprise of multiple choice and short answer questions; observations; clinical simulation demonstration, and learner assessment questionnaire. The written exams and demonstrations should be graded accordingly depending on the developed grading rubric.

References

Chasten, S. (2017). How can I help students feel intrinsically and extrinsically motivated to engage in active learning? Retrieved from https://www.physport.org/recommendations/Entry.cfm?ID=101220

Singapore Management University. (2019). Lesson planning. Retrieved from https://cte.smu.edu.sg/approach-teaching/integrated-design/lesson-planning

Wayne State University. (2019). S.M.A.R. T objectives. Retrieved from https://hr.wayne.edu/leads/phase1/smart-objectives