BUSS 5357 Managing Operations In Supply Chains


The final project is intended as a way to evaluate the students’ understanding and application of theory across the subject. It involves completing an analytical and research-based project that addresses modern issues in the field of operations management.

The video case study below will help you identify the key processes and the key factors that influence the design, planning, and control of operations.

Select one operational problem and research its importance relative to the case. Use an appropriate analytical tool to do this.



Business process management (or business process management) is a procedure used by businesses to make their workflow more efficient, effective and capable of dealing with the dynamic business environment Rouse (2011); Ko 2009

Management of business processes is vital to the success and growth of every company.

Panagacos, 2012, pp. 6 states that business management seeks to improve corporate performance by improving the efficiency of the business processes.

Business process management is a policy making approach that views the process as an asset. It requires proper understanding, management, development, and management to ensure the organization can provide value-added services and products to clients.

Business process management can be supported with technology. It is similar in practice to total quality control methodology (Gong and Janssen 2011, 2011).

Mane et. al.

According to Mane et al. (2009), a business should design their processes so that customers are satisfied with quality products and services. It also needs to be able to sustain a long-term relationship and a healthy customer base through continuous improvement to meet international standards.

This report was based on case video footage of Indian dabbawalas.

High technology is essential in modern business environments.

To improve their businesses, dabbawalas is a group made up of Indian entrepreneurs who are not literate.

A Summary of The Case Study

Supply chain management plays a crucial role in any company’s operation.

The Mumbai dabbawala case study will focus on these operations.

Dabbawala, in India, is a person who delivers fresh cooked food in lunch boxes to workers at their workplaces.

The dabdawalas take the lunch boxes back to their owners and return them to them.

They also use bicycles and trains to transport the food.

Mumbai dabbawalas provide an excellent example of supply chain management in their business.

Since the colonial period saw the arrival of the Indian Britons, who did not like the local food, they employed local people to deliver home-made meals to their workplaces in 1980.

Lunch boxes in India, known as “dabbas”, were transported on horse-drawn trams. They were delivered to important offices.

Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association, (NMTBSA), was founded in 1956 and became a charitable trust.

Raghunath, the president, was in charge of the organization.

Raghunath Medge was assisted by a general secretary, a treasurer and a director.

Recently, Mumbai businessmen have been embracing this service industry and are now major clients for the dabbwallas.

About 5,000 people work in this industry, which also includes a small number of women.

This industry is becoming increasingly popular in India as well as in other countries.

Learning institutions in India have recognised the success of the industry and invited dabbawalas representatives to meet with them and discuss how they can improve their education.

People prefer dabbawalas to get their lunches from home.

Mumbai’s suburbs are where most office workers live. They commute every day to work.

They leave their homes at about 7.00 AM and return home at 7 PM.

It is difficult for workers to transport food from their homes due to congestion in trains. Most of them can’t afford to purchase food at hotels every day.

Most offices lack canteens and cafeterias so workers cannot eat at the cafeterias.

They consider roadside food unhealthy and unhygienic. Additionally, India has many different food options which makes it difficult to provide food services to all employees in offices.

The dabbawalas deliver hot food to around 200k people in lunch boxes.

Each month, customers pay Rs 150 to 300 or 3-7 US dollars for a lunch box. The exact amount depends on where they are located and when they collect it.

A portion of their monthly earnings is donated by the dabbawalas to the organization.

How the Business operates

The dabbawalas have a functioning system that is based on management, process, culture and organization. They are all interdependent and perfectly designed to complement each other.

This kind of operation is uncommon in the corporate world, since few companies consider the importance and interdependence of the four elements. (Thomke (2012)

There may be three to twelve dabbawallas involved in delivering food to clients.

Each dabbawala gets assigned a specific area to work from and can start at 9 AM.

A dabbawala will spend approximately one hour collecting lunch boxes within his or her region.

They travel on foot or by bicycle to collect dabbas.

Every household should make sure that the food is packed and ready for the dabbawalas when they arrive to collect it.

After collecting their lunch boxes from the station, the dabbawalas gather together in a common area.

The sorting process is easy and efficient thanks to the coding.

The next station determines which train station the dabbas go to for sorting.

Each station has its own dabbawala responsible for delivering the dabbas to their final destination.

To sort the dabbas, a hub-and-spoke method is used. Then they are handed to the dabbawala for their journey to a particular part of the city.

According to where the dabbas will be taken, the dabbas can then be divided among several dabbawallas.

Two to three dabbawalas can be assigned to the delivery of large quantities of dabbas in one particular area.

Hand-pushed carts are used by the dabbawalas to transport the food.

Every dabba is delivered to each customer by the organization at 12:30pm.

When empty dabbas are collected after lunch, the process is identical.

The dabbawalas that delivered lunch boxes collect them and then take them to the nearest railway station. From there, the sharing and sorting process is repeated until residents are able to return the dabbas.

Mumbai Tiifin Box Suppliers Association, (MTBSA), has been in existence for over 120 years.

It is comprised of more than 4,500 members, who are semi-literate. The members have a large number customers for whom they provide their door-to-door services.

The organization is composed of three operational parts. These include the governing board, which includes the president, vice–president, general secretary, treasurer, nine directors, the mukadams, as well the dabbawalas.

Agrawal (2012) states that MTBSA functions to regulate the activities and to resolve conflicts between the dabbawalas or customers and the authorities.

Dabbawalas may be sub-divided in groups of between 15 and 25 people. Each group is managed by four mukadams.

Each group has its own financial operations. But they coordinate with each other while making deliveries, which makes it possible to run the industry.

Although the groups compete in finding customers, they all work together in providing services.

Each group manages its own daily operations

It is important that dabbawalas are committed to providing their services.

They will also need to make capital investments in order to join the organization.

Each dabbawala must invest at least two bikes (at Rs.

4,000, wooden make for carrying tiffins.

600) and a Gandhi topi (Rs.

The average monthly earnings of a dabbawala is between Rs. 5,000 and Rs.

Every dabbawala gives 15% of his/her monthly earnings to the group. The money goes towards community projects, loans, providing discounts and marriage venues.

Each month, the organization holds a meeting to identify and discuss customer services and any complaints.

Design’s Positive Factors

Bernajee (2009) claims that Mumbai dabbawalas employ minimal technology, process, or structure for food delivery services.

Thomke et al. (2012) noted that Mumbai’s dabbawala has been able to deliver high quality services at a reasonable cost by using a simpler system.

They employ a simple six-sigma method to deliver reliable, high quality food in India.

Harmon, 2007: The six-sigma methodology states that there should only be 3.4 errors per million opportunities.

This means that of the one million dabbas required to be collected and delivered in Mumbai, only three or less dabbas will reach their destination on time.

Pathak (2010) says that they don’t allow rain or traffic to excuse why lunch boxes are not delivered on schedule.

This allows the dabbawallas to be reliable and efficient.

Gillman (2017) says that the Mumbai Dabbawala is an internationally recognized six-sigma organization because of their cultural structure and efficient meal delivery system in Mumbai, India.

Gillman notes that the dabbawalas provide food and services to over 12.5 million people, using barefoot men, public transport and recyclable containers. They are also among the top performing supply chains worldwide.

Recent surveys are positive about the organization. The dabbawalas make less than 1 mistake for every 6,000,000 deliveries.

Gillman identified these factors as the key to the effectiveness of the organization’s systems.

The organization doesn’t rely too heavily on technology. The dabbawalas only use simple technology like the web and SMS to place orders.

They don’t use complicated technologies like microchips and social networks.

They can walk or take public trains to get to their destinations. This is more reliable.

The integrated performance chain has been established by the organization. The dabbawala group focuses not on specific parts of the system but on the whole system.

Gillot, 2008. The organization ensures that every part of the delivery system works properly to prevent any potential problems that could impact the quality of the services provided.

The employees have better visibility of the business operations from point of collection to point of delivery.

They need to avoid making mistakes that could delay delivery or cause problems.

One small delay could cause clients to miss their lunches if the process is not completed on time.

This organization ensures that every person in the system from the households to the dabbawalas knows what they should do and where they need help.

Simplicity – The dabbawalas use a simple delivery system to their services.

First, the dabbawalas understand the needs and values of their customers. This means that they require timely delivery of food every day.

They understand that customers are their priority and they will not allow them to be unhappy.

The dabbawalas are completely focused on the customer’s need and will devote all their effort and time to that goal.

Management in Mumbai Dabbawalas

The success of the Mumbai Dabbawallas is due to their business process management.

Bisk (2017) says that business process management can be described as an all-inclusive approach, which doesn’t follow a hierarchy when implementing change within the organization.

It does not depend on any one department or segment of an organisation, but rather engages all departments.

When trying to implement business management leaders face many challenges, particularly when trying coordinate many departments.

Hedge (2007) points out that effective business process management can improve employee satisfaction and create better opportunities for an organization.

These are some of the factors to be considered when applying the business-process management approach.

Leadership roles-The organization’s leaders should be at the forefront of the implementation process.

The organization must ensure that they have the necessary leadership capabilities to implement this method.

It is up to leaders to ensure that the process is properly implemented and is working as intended.

Leaders should be able and able to supervise other members of the organisation, both within and outside their departments (Hedge 2007,

Communication- Apostolou and colleagues (2010) state that in order for an organization to have an effective business management process, it must have a structured communication plan.

A well-structured communication plan allows for the integration of different departments within an organization and allows them to work harmoniously together.

The organization’s efficiency is improved by good communication.

Effective communication is crucial in identifying any potential issues and solving them before these become major issues for the organization (Narasimhareddy V.2012).

Executive commitment- Successful implementation of business processes management requires the participation of all departments.

Implementing this method requires the support of the top management.

The process will succeed if the executive supports it (Hedge 2007, Hedge 2007).

Mumbai dabbawalas recognized the importance and has successfully implemented them in their system.

Here are some of the factors that contributed to the success and growth of the company.

The primary goal of the organization is to serve the people.

Employees are motivated and have a positive attitude. The organization teaches them about their responsibilities.

An organization creates a sense of purpose among its employees.

The organization makes sure that its services are provided in a satisfactory manner.

The organization promotes high self-discipline over collective discipline for all employees.

SWOT Analysis on the Organization


Reliable modes of transportation that include local trains.

Excellent coordination among employees.

Reliable base of customers.

Customer satisfaction is guaranteed by their service

The organization operates at a very low cost.

Simple and innovative service techniques.


It is caste-based.

Depends on tradition technology.

There is less money left for the organization.

Low operating costs are required

It is well-known.


There is competition from other service providers.


The dabbawallas have existed for a long period of time. They have survived many hardships including wars and political instability.

Without an established culture within the organization, this could not be possible.

Because of its efficient and effective food delivery service, the company has managed to keep a large number of customers.

Agrawal (P. 2012), Mumbai Dabbawala – Customer Service Excellence of Six Sigma Quality Without Technology.

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Gillot J., 2008. The complete guide to Business Process Management.

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Harmon, P. 2007, Business Process Change. A Guide for Business Managers.

2007 An introduction to business management: tools, techniques and methods.

Castle Ventures.

Ko, R. (2009, A computer scientist introductory manual to business process management.

ACM Crossroads.

Vol 15, no.

Panagacos T. 2012. The Ultimate Guide for Business Process Management: Everything you need and how to apply it in your company.

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

S. Pathak (2010) Delivering the Nation: Mumbai’s Dabbawalas.

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Vol. 3 no.2, pages 235-257

Rouse M. 2011, Business Process Management (BPM).


Thomke S. 2012 Mumbai’s Models of Service Excellence.

Harvard Business Review.

Thomke S.; Stefan, H.; Mona S. 2010 The dabbawala System: On-time delivery, everytime.

Harvard Business School.

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