Qualitative Techniques

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One of the emerging trends in manufacturing and supply chain management is the development of quantitative and qualitative techniques to improve efficiency and minimize cost. There are two main areas of quantitative methods used today, one is the inventory process which measures the actual number of goods in use in a facility versus the total number of goods that have been in storage for a certain period of time. The second area of quantitative analysis deals with calculating the costs of maintaining a facility. Both techniques require researchers to carefully examine the interactions between products, costs and the variables that control these interactions. In order to improve warehouse operations, companies must develop a better understanding of how things work inside their warehouse.

Qualitative methods rely on the expertise of the researcher. Qualitative researcher normally uses personal interview techniques as well as case studies and survey to observe how individuals within the organization interact with one another. These techniques provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of existing practices and suggest ways to improve the organization's operations. A major benefit of using qualitative techniques for improving warehouse efficiency is that researchers gain an inside view into how employees interact with one another. Through interviews, the researcher can gather first hand information about the attitudes, thoughts, and feelings of the people who use a particular facility and from these information derive necessary lessons for improving the performance of the facility as a whole.

Quantitative methods depend primarily on the quality of the data gathered and the skill of the researcher. Many facilities use the services of outside agencies to collect the data and to analyze them. These agencies usually focus on developing a more inclusive framework by which the quantitative data can be analyzed and interpreted more effectively. While outside agencies are extremely useful when collecting data and doing the analysis, researchers can also use their own informal set of focus groups. Focus groups offer the researcher an opportunity to directly communicate with actual users and can provide valuable insights into the problems they experience.

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