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Operations cases

Someone asked on Nov 11, 2018 - 2 answers

Dear all,
I am contacting you as an experience hire from the strategy consulting industry.
I am really struggling with unusual cases: public sector, Non profit, operations, synergies.
Do you have any insights on:
- typical frameworks
- example of good cases

Thanks

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Vlad replied on Nov 12, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

There are several types of operational cases that you may have:

1) Operational math problems. (e.g. Should we increase the speed of the elevator or just buy a second one? How should we reduce the queues? How should we increase the output of a factory?).

Structuring:

  • Usually, you have to look at the process (value chain). Even the most complicated systems have the inflows and outflows

The key concepts that you have to learn:

  • Capacity and utilization (both machine and people)
  • Cycle time, Throughput time, Little's Law
  • How the does lowest cycle time influence the production? (Lead time = cycle time of the slowest process)
  • How can we mitigate the bottlenecks with low cycle time? (Buffer, Parallel process, speeding up)

2) Cost cutting cases

Structuring:

  • What is the cost composition and what are the biggest costs
  • Benchmarking of the biggest costs to find the improvement potential
  • Process improvements to meet the benchmarks
  • Costs and benefits of the proposed initiatives

The key concepts that you have to learn:

  • Internal / external benchmarking
  • Idle time
  • Core processes (usually are optimized) and the supporting processes (usually are cut)
  • Math structures (Frequency of operations * time per operation)
  • Other useful structures (e.g. people - process - technology)

Feel free to reach me for further help with these cases.

As for non-profit cases - these types of cases are actually pretty traditional, especially for McKinsey. The reason why people think that they are rare is that the casebooks (that are in general not a good source of cases) do not have enough of them.

To provide a bit of structure, there are several types of non-profit cases:

  1. Factors influencing the price (What are the factors influencing the price of oil? Factors influencing the price of real estate?)
  2. Macroeconomic cases (How will you improve life expectancy in a particular city? How will you decrease the unemployment?)
  3. Public sector non-profits (Increasing the revenues of a museum; increasing the revenues from tourism in a city)
  4. Redesigning the processes (How will you develop a new anti-monopoly regulation?)
  5. Non-profit investments (A billionaire is building a new school. What are the factors to look at?)

As you can see there are many types of cases and many frameworks that can be used. I usually give a big homework (10 cases) and then cover them within one session. I also have several sessions on ops cases. Feel free to reach me if you need help.

Best!

Guennael replied on Nov 11, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

The actual case and sector is nearly irrelevant - and you will never do every single type of case available.

If you know how to structure a case (any case), present that framework, follow it, do interim conclusions, read exhibits & draw insights, issue a recommendations and present a logical & action-oriented conclusion... I'd argue the actual case itself doesn't matter.

You can find many cases in the various case books that circulate on the web (or in the consulting association at your school). I'd have to see a case before figuring out a framework, and so would you.

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