NVQ Level 3, Diploma in Business and Administration: "Solve Business Problems," Part 2
In the process of solving business problems, after identifying and analysing the problem and finding solutions, one needs to check on the possible effects that the organisation's policies and procedures may have on the problem solving task. You also need to keep an eye on the effects of legal requirements or regulations on the problem-solving procedure. Once you have researched these and are satisfied, you will need to evaluate approaches to solving business problems and evaluate solutions.
Second in a Two-Part Series
This is the second part of the NVQ Unit, “Solve Business Problems.”
The first part of this series covered Learning Outcomes 1 and 2 of this unit:
1. Understand business problems and their causes (1.1 to 1.3)
2. Understand techniques for solving business problems (2.1 to 2.5)
This article covers Learning Outcomes 3 and 4:
3. Understand factors that influence solutions to business problems (3.1, 3.2).
4. Understand how to evaluate approaches to solving business problems (4.1, 4.2).
Note: When you write down knowledge-based outcomes, kindly relate the outcomes to your area of work, quoting examples and experiences wherever you can. Please do not reproduce what is published here. Thank you. All the best!
Learning Outcome 3: "Understand Factors That Influence Solutions to Business Problems"
In this section we will look at understanding factors that influence solutions to business problems and understanding how to evaluate approaches to solving business problems.
3.1. Describe the Possible Effects of Organisational Policies and Procedures When Solving Business Problems
Many people possess excellent analytical skills and problem solving skills that they have gained from years of experience in various fields and industries. When it comes to problem solving, every organisation has its own policies and procedures that one has to adhere to while solving problems. This history can be an issue or barrier when one tries to implement certain solutions to a problem. When this is the case, the company needs to support and encourage someone who is solving a problem. Policies and procedures have both positive and negative effects on problem solving; the effect varies for different companies.
Let us have a look at some of the effects these organisational policies and procedures have when solving business problems.
Some positive effects:
- Policies and procedures let employees implement their ideas and provide resources and inter departmental support.
- When people adhere to policies and procedures, they feel they can work safely without worrying.
- Policies and procedures provide the proper channels and systems and the employees can see the ideas from start to finish
Some negative effects:
- Policies and procedures impose constraints and reduce flexibility, thus making problem solving more complex.
- Policies and procedures can place a barrier that stops employees from working to their full potential
- They can impose barriers on an employee's use of his/her own skills.
- They can cause frustration and loss of enthusiasm.
- They can prevent employees from taking complete control of a problem and hence restrict them from developing and applying new and effective methods and concepts
- They remove freedom to experiment and implement ideas
Although there are some negative aspects of having policies and procedures, they are devised, after all, for the safety of the business and the safe working of employees, and anything not covered in the policies and procedures can be included if evidence of its importance is brought to attention of the relevant people.
3.2. Describe the Possible Effects of Legal or Regulatory Requirements When Solving Business Problems
Any business or organisation has a lot of legal requirements and regulations that its employees have to take into consideration. Since every aspect and process in a business—for example sales, profit, employee relations, manufacturing or production—has legal requirements and is controlled by legislation, one needs to look at the effects of laws and regulations as part of the problem-solving process.
Business problems may be internal or external, and always involve a proper procedure. For example if there are quality issues in a product that was sold to a customer, customers will look at the specifications on the box and will expect the same to be inside the box. If there is a problem in a building contract, legal issues like contracts, agreements and other issues will be taken into consideration. So care needs to be taken while specifying products or writing down contracts and agreements and any other records or documents related to legal requirements and regulations.
Here are some effects of legal and regulatory requirements that we can expect during a problem-solving process:
- On Issues related to sales, profit, production, and labour, employment and trade laws, etc., need to be taken into account.
- All agreements related to business transactions and processes need to be updated and filed for future reference, with a copy made available to everyone involved.
- Agreements, contracts and policies related to employment must be provided to all employees, with a signed copy in the possession of the employer and the employee.
- A business and its employees should by all means be bound by law and not ignore it, as ignoring legal issues can lead to complex problems and have serious effects.
- When utilising resources from other departments or external sources, check that you follow the legal procedures and regulations for doing so/
- Make sure you follow legal procedures and regulations while communicating with restricted agencies and departments.
Not abiding by laws and regulations can be disastrous and can lead to serious errors and outcomes. Laws and regulations are updated frequently and an organisation has to keep track of and comply with these updates in order to avoid any problems.
Learning Outcome 4: "Understand How to Evaluate Approaches to Solving Business Problems"
In this section, we will look at ways to evaluate approaches in problem solving and ways to evaluate solutions to these problems effectively.
4.1 Describe Ways of Evaluating Approaches to Solving Business Problems
Now you know what the problem is, you have identified it, found the causes, analysed and arrived at a solution, implemented it and the result may have been positive or negative. Now you need to consult with colleagues, managers and other higher management and get their feedback and evaluation, or do a self-evaluation to see if the approaches to problem solving were appropriate and correct.
There are various ways in which you can evaluate the approaches to problem solving in a business.
Questions to Check
- Is the approach realistic?
- is the task defined clearly and are all its requirements noted down clearly?
- Do you have all the resources, information and money required to carry out the process?
- Once the process starts, can it be completed without interruption?
- Have you prioritised the different steps involved in the process?
- Are all the individuals involved in the approach available for a long enough period of time so that communication exists between all the individuals involved? Use experiences from the past if any.
- Does the entire process adhere to the organisation’s policies and procedures and abide by the laws and regulations? If there are any exceptions, you need to make sure that all the relevant procedures and permissions to carry out the process have been acquired.
- Is any training required? If yes, make sure that you complete it before starting the problem-solving process.
- Are resources needed from other departments? If so, check to see if you have the permissions and authority to get them.
- Will you receive all the support you need for completing the problem-solving task? Will the environment where you work be supportive as well?
- Do you have the permissions you need for the communication needed to solve the problem? Some organisations restrict communications with certain departments or agencies.
How to Proceed
- Set targets and draw an action plan, as these will motivate you and keep you on track.
- Keep monitoring and reviewing your performance all through the task of problem solving, as this will help you meet your targets and will also help you solve future problems.
- Do not rush: be patient in defining the task because any task done in a rush will be less successful.
- Prepare a summary of the entire task and follow the DMAIC (Define Measure Analyse Improve Control) approach
4.2 Describe Ways of Evaluating Solutions to Problems for Effectiveness
Once you have evaluated all the approaches required to solve the problem, you then need to evaluate the solutions to see how feasible they will be. While working towards solutions to a problem, be very patient. Do not dive into conclusions or any other tasks without properly planning. Look at the advantages and drawbacks involved. Check to see if there are any flaws in the process.
Some ways in which you can evaluate solutions to problems so that they can be effective are,
- Research for the best possible solution and check to see how practical it can be.
- Define the solution.
- Then check to see if this solution will meet the requirements and the deadline. See if the task can be achieved on time.
- Describe the benefits of following this method to arrive at a solution
- Put forward the ideas and thoughts to experienced staff and other colleagues and ask for suggestions, discuss the ideas and any outcomes that you expect, and also ask for feedback and other suggestions.
- Check to see if the costs of the problem-solving process are readily available, along with any resources that are necessary.
- Check to see if you have experience in this task, and if not, undertake any training that is required.
Problem Solving Ideas That Work
- Check to see how successful the process will be.
- Draw charts and plans.
- Research to see if there is a better process than this.
- Analyse the risks involved and see if they are acceptable. Check for any obstacles and constraints.
- Check to see if this solution will satisfy the needs of all the people, departments, customers and organisations involved, and also check to see if everyone is in agreement.
- Finally, make sure that the process conforms to the policies and procedures of the organisation and that it adheres to the legal requirements and regulations.