FIT SIGMA in Service Operations
It is generally agreed that 75% of the workforce in the United Kingdom is engaged in service industries. This high proportion is not unique to the United Kingdom; indeed, it is representative of employment statistics for developed nations throughout the world. In fact, the US Census Bureau shows that over 80% of the workforce in the United States is employed in service industries. There are many service businesses such as healthcare, banking, food services and retailing. In addition, there exist numerous service functions in both manufacturing and service organisations, for example marketing, finance, information technology, procurement, legal and human resources. Although a shift back to manufacturing industries has been identified (Basu and Wright, 1998), nonetheless it is obvious that the larger percentage of the workforce of developed nations will continue to be employed in service type activities. There are several reasons for this.
Firstly, continual advances in technology mean that manufacturing is considerably less labour-intensive than during previous times. Automation, robotics, advanced information technology, new materials and improved work methods all have led to the decimation of manual labour.
Secondly, for larger organisations, manufacturing has become internationalised. Many companies (for example Nike) that began with a manufacturing base are now seen as primarily marketing and service companies, with manufacturing ...