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Suggestion of an Ideal Business Environment Appraisal Tool for Consensus Caring Homes Group

| January 13, 2017

Introduction

One of the characteristics of the present day organisational environment is its proneness to change. It is therefore advisable for organisations to ensure that they employ ideal analysis tools in evaluation their internal and external business environments (Teece, 2010). By so doing, they will be able to formulate and implement strategies that will enable them to successfully wade through these changes and maintain their relevance to the people or clients that they target. There are different environmental appraisal tools that can be used in evaluating the internal and external environments of an organisation (Gazzola et al., 2011). Selection of these techniques is based on several factors, one of these being the aspects that the organisation is interested in knowing (Cadle et al., 2010). This paper suggests and justifies the most ideal environmental appraisal technique that can be used by Consensus Caring Homes Group, a charitable organisation that provides specialist services for adults with learning disabilities in Scotland, Wales and England.

Proposed Environmental Analysis Technique

The ideal analysis tool that can be used by Consensus Caring Homes Group is SWOT analysis. This technique evaluates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats that characterise a business (Cadle et al., 2010). Strengths and weaknesses are internal aspects of the organisation, while opportunities and threats are elements of the external environment and out of the organisation’s control.

Aspects that are considered when establishing strengths and weaknesses of an organisation include its financial capabilities, its physical resources, the effectiveness of its workforce, quality of goods or services it offers to its clients and its organisational structure, among others (Helms, 2010). On the other hand, factors of the external market that can be analysed by this framework include the clients’ trends, economic conditions, demographics of the target markets, legislation and the rivalry in the industry, among others (Lussier, 2011). The reasons why this technique has been selected over the other available analysis tools are discussed below.

Justification of the selection of SWOT Approach

According to Cadle et al. (2010), this analysis is ideal for the strategic planning process of an organisation, which Consensus Caring Homes Group intends to carry out. On carrying out an effective and comprehensive SWOT analysis, companies are able to evaluate the new ventures in which they can involve themselves and their capabilities to do so. They are also able to identify the changes to be made in order to reduce or eliminate the weaknesses and evade the potential threats that they might face (Helms, 2010). This therefore enables organisations’ management teams to communicate the strategic adjustments that need to be made.

As opposed to many other frameworks, the SWOT analysis approach as earlier discussed analyses both the internal and external business environments. The PESTEL analysis framework, for instance, only provides an overview of the external environmental factors – political, economic, social, technological and legal – affecting a certain organisation or industry (Cadle et al., 2010). It must therefore be combined with an internal analysis technique for an organisation to make an ideal decision on the strategic direction that can be taken.  This is also the case with techniques that only provide an internal environmental analysis like the VRIN framework which evaluates whether a certain resource of an organisation can provide it with a sustainable competitive advantage (Warner, 2010). This convenience that is provided by the SWOT analysis gives it an edge because it guides how internal capabilities can be used in utilising opportunities and evading threats in the external business environment.

The simplicity of the SWOT analysis approach also makes it ideal for analysis, especially if a quick strategic decision in the organisations has to be made. According to Cadle et al. (2010), anyone with a good understanding or knowledge of the business can carry out a SWOT analysis. The fact that it does not need a high degree of specialisation to be used also makes it a cost-effective approach because rather than hiring external specialists to carry out an environmental analysis, a staff member with vast knowledge of the organisation can be asked to carry it out (Helms, 2010).

Even with the mentioned advantages of SWOT analysis over the other frameworks, several researchers have questioned its effectiveness. One of these disadvantages is that it does not weigh the elements listed as strengths, opportunities, weaknesses or threats according to their levels of significance (Helms, 2010). This makes it challenging for the impacts of these factors to be determined. The analysis has also faced criticism for being subject to bias, depending on the parties involved in carrying out the analysis (Cadle et al., 2010).

Applicability of the SWOT analysis approach on Consensus Caring Homes Group

This section bases on the SWOT analysis framework to highlight the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the Consensus Caring Homes Group. As the organisation intends to make strategic plans to improve its service delivery and position in the industry, this analysis will be effective in guiding its decision making process.

Strengths

The organisation serves the elderly with a wide range of learning disabilities. These include mild, moderate and severe learning disabilities, Down’s syndrome and autism spectrum conditions (Consensus, 2014a). This provides the elderly with such conditions with an all-inclusive care plan for learning disabilities, eliminating the need for referrals.

Staff members and volunteers are also highly dedicated towards providing the much needed services for the elderly with learning disabilities. The superiority of their service quality earned the organisation recognition as the ‘Specialist Care Provider of the Year’ in 2011’s Health Investor Awards (Carehome.co.uk, 2014). This has created a good reputation for the organisation, which enables it to attract more investors.

The fact that Consensus Caring Homes Group has offices throughout Scotland, Wales and England makes it accessible to a wide range of people in need of its services (Consensus, 2014b). To the target groups, it shows its dedication towards serving them. Its premises are also located in areas that are accessible to transportation, making accessibility easy for caregivers and patients moving to and from the homes.

The strategic partnerships that the organisation has formed with other primary care units and local authorities within the United Kingdom also assures it of the support it needs in accessing funds or alternative healthcare solutions for its patients (Carehome.co.uk, 2014).

Weaknesses

One of the weaknesses or Consensus Caring Homes Group is that it has been in existence for only about 10 years since its inception in 2004 (Consensus, 2014a). Whereas it is endeavouring to strengthen its position, it lacks the experience that other organisations that have been in the industry for longer possess.

The high dependence on the local government for funding is also a weakness for the organisation because in many cases, the funding is conditional. If it fails to meet the standards set by the local government, the funding may be cut.

The organisation experiences occasional insufficiency of funds, which makes it challenging for it to compensate its workers and motivate them to deliver high quality services. This also contributes to a high turnover rate for employees.

Some of the organisations premises have not been designed to sufficiently carter for people with other physical disabilities. This makes it challenging for them to move around or use some facilities when visiting these homes.

Opportunities

Improvement in service delivery by the organisation provides it with the opportunity of attracting more investors (Ordanini et al., 2011). This will reduce the funding challenges that it is currently facing.

In addition to only dealing with learning disability issues for the elderly, the organisation can expand to also incorporate other health issues that affect the elderly rather than referring them to other facilities. This will enable them to effectively monitor the progress of their patients.

The technological advancements and research breakthroughs that are being experienced in the field of mental healthcare provide the organisation with the opportunity of offering better diagnosis and remedies for the patients that it targets (Rosenberg et al., 2012).

Threats

As aforementioned, the organisation heavily relies on funding from the local government. In case of a regime change, the changes that might take place in budgetary allocations may bring about a threat of reduction or termination of funding (Teece, 2010).

A diminishing quality of service, especially during periods of insufficient funding, threatens the good reputation of the organisation (Ordanini et al., 2011). This not only repels patients from seeking its services, but also increases scepticism among investors and well wishers who fund its operations. Employees may also resign citing poor remuneration, exposing the organisation to competition from other enterprises offering the same services.

Conclusion

A periodic appraisal or evaluation of internal and external business environments of an organisation is ideal for strategic planning. One of the widely used frameworks of analysis whish has been addressed in this paper is the SWOT analysis technique, which highlights the internal strengths and weaknesses, and the external opportunities and threats. Whereas it has several advantages over other analysis techniques, it also has a few shortcomings, which have been addressed. An example SWOT analysis that has been carried out on Consensus Caring Homes Group in this paper has listed most of the factors that it needs to consider before making a strategic decision regarding its performance.

References

Cadle, J., Paul, D. & Turner. P. ‎(2010). Business Analysis Techniques: 72 Essential Tools for Success. Chippenham: BCS, The Chartered Institute.

Carehome.co.uk. (2014). Care Homes Owned by Consensus: Info & Members. [Online] Available at: http://www.carehome.co.uk/care_search_results.cfm/searchgroup/36151030CARB [Accessed 21 November 2014].

Consensus. (2014)a. Consensus Support Website: What Support do we offer? [Online] Available at: http://www.consensussupport.com/ [Accessed 21 November 2014].

Consensus (2014)b. The Consensus Support website: Where are we located? [Online] Available at: http://www.consensussupport.com/ [Accessed 21 November 2014].

Gazzola, P. et al. (2011). Enhancing environmental appraisal effectiveness: Towards an understanding of internal context conditions in organisational learning. Planning Theory & Practice, 12(2):183-204.

Helms, M.M. &. Nixon, J. (2010). Exploring SWOT analysis–where are we now?: A review of academic research from the last decade. Journal of Strategy and Management, 3(3): 215-51.

Lussier, R. (2011). Management Fundamentals: Concepts, Applications, Skill Development. Mason: Cengage Learning.

Ordanini, A., Miceli, L., Pizzetti, M. & Parasuraman, A. (2011). Crowd-funding: transforming customers into investors through innovative service platforms. Journal of Service Management, 22(4):443-70.

Rosenberg, L., Kottorp, A. & Nygård, L. (2012). Readiness for Technology Use With People With Dementia The Perspectives of Significant Others. Journal of Applied Gerontology, 31(4):510-30.

Teece, D.J. (2010). Business Models, Business Strategy and Innovation. Long Range Planning, 43(2):172-94.

Warner, A.G. (2010). Strategic Analysis and Choice: A Structured Approach. California: Business Expert Press.

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