Management control systems that support the implementation of cost leadership include tight cost control systems, quantitative cost goals, close supervision of labor, raw materials, inventory, and other costs, and a cost leadership philosophy. Examples of good compensation policies are rewards for cost reduction and incentives for all employees to be involved in cost reductions. With the example of tata steel, we can see how a cost leadership strategy can serve a company in good stead. As we see companies like nippon steel are crumbling under the weight of their size and are taking cover trying to improve their margins by cutting down staff and. On the other hand a strict cost control program has resulted in good returns to tata even in recessionary periods. Cost leadership At Reliance Industries In the 2005 Annual General meeting it has been stated that Reliance has become a global leader in various business activities based on innovation and cost leadership (Reliance Industries Limited, 2007). Reliance today enjoys a 7 global market share in the textile polyester business. India, china and south East Asia have nearly 80 of global textile polyester capacity, along with presence in downstream textiles.
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It has been observed that these have been on the rise yet have been volatile. To neutralize this effect superior cost control in the areas where it possible is highly important. While on one hand, there are uncontrollable costs, it is the controllable costs that the company must aim to cut back. In this area, tata steel has been highly successful. Organizing to implement a cost leadership strategy requires particular consideration to the organizational resume structure, management controls, compensation policies, and vision implementing cost leadership strategies. The organizational arrangements and implementation tools should not only fit but reinforce the strategy. Porter (1980) has divided requirements of overall cost leadership strategy into commonly required skills and resources and Common organizational requirements. Commonly required skills and resources when implementing overall cost leadership are sustained capital investment and access to capital, process engineering skills, intense supervision of labor, products designed for ease in manufacture, and low-cost distribution systems. Common organizational requirements constitute of tight cost control, frequent, detailed control reports, structured organization and responsibilities, and incentives based on meeting strict quantitative targets. According to barney hesterley (2006 few layers in the reporting structure, simple reporting relationships, small corporate staff, and focus on narrow range of business functions are elements of organizational structure that allow firms to realize the full potential of cost leadership strategies.
According to tata steel estimates, its operating margins will still remain close to 20 despite the global slowdown. The ebitda of guaranteed 17 for both 2009-10 indicates why it pays to be the cost leader. The balance sheets of both Nippon Steel and posco would indicate that they have cut production to brace for the coming recession. However, the standalone data of tata steel during the period has shown an increase. (source: tata, nippon, posco annual reports) Another important factor adding to the operating expenses of the company includes transportation and freight charges. Since tata steel has to source its raw materials from many points such as Australia and Africa, freight becomes a major component of of its cost. Also, it has production facilities in multiple locations and sourcing becomes a important concern.
Tata steel in comparison pays a heavy sum when compared to its competitors. However, with the acquisition of Corus, it is bound to improve as corus has one of the most effcient workforces. Japanese nippon Steel and Korean posco rule the roost when it comes to productivity. If only tata steel can improve upon employee productivity, it can further cut its costs to a certain extent. It must however be noted that labour cost accounts to only to 7-8 of tata steels revenues and hence may not hold too much of relevance as yet. But as the times goes, it is bound to be an issue and must be checked immediately. The data on cost as a percentage of revenues is given below. Furthermore, tata steel also has a high return on investment and capital employed which is furnished below: Although it has been declining, it is expected since the world steel prices have taken a beating since the economic crisis came into the picture. As we can see in the graph below, India has the competitive advantage in labour beating all countries including China.
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This presents tata steel with a sea of opportunities as the highest consumer of Steel in the world is its neighbor. The key factors that work for tata steel are as follows. Management is confident of passing on to customers the impending raw material cost in-creases. Continuous improvement programs at Corus to result in savings/benefits of gbp 300 mn in FY08. In comparison the fy09 savings/benefits is usd 350. Regards the total acquisition synergy benefits of usd 450 mn, a run rate of 30 (usd 135 mn) has already been achieved. Key data on the Steel industry India is among the least cost producers of Steel and it is reflected in the graph below: Cost of raw material in India is much cheaper when compared to other countries; specially China.
As we can see in the figure below, India is among the cheapest countries to source steel. India also has the cheapest labour costs for a company. Although, Brazil and south Africa have your cheaper raw material cost, they have a higher labour cost to compensate. Tata steel has access to one of the cheapest labour markets and hence is in a very strong position in minimizing its cost of production. However, it must be noted that Indian labourers are not the most efficient of labourers. They are much below the world average when it comes to effciency. As the Industry data suggests, Indian workers are not the most effcient among workers.
Tata Steel, which bought out global major Corus last year doubled its profits based on the acquisition. Tata steel and Corus together sell more than two-thirds of their production in Europe. The consolidated full year net profit for Tata Steel stood at Rs 12,321.76 crore, com-pared to Rs 4,165.61 crore, due to contribution from Corus businesses. The consolidated reve-nue for the full year totaled Rs 1,32,110.09 crore, compared to Rs 25,650.45 crore last year. Anglo-dutch steel maker Corus was acquired in January last year for 13 billion.
In 2006 tata steel used to produce.4 million metric tonnes of steel and was ranked 45th in the world by capacity. In 2007 post acquisition of Corus its capacity became.5 mil-lion metric tonnes and was ranked 6th in the world. Sail is ranked 19th in the list. The other companies preceding tata steel are Arcelor Mittal, nippon Steel, jfe, posco and bao steel. However, while most other companied are facing the challenge of low margins, tata steel has remained positive because of the cost leadership it maintains. In the iron and steel industry, the prices are determined by the market and hence all that a producer can do is cut down on its costs ti sustain its margins. Surprisingly, china happens to be the highest producer and consumer of Iron and steel in Asia. It has been illustrated in the pie chart below.
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Low cost leadership becomes a viable strategy only for larger firms. Market leaders may strengthen their positioning by advantages attained through scale and experience in a low cost leadership strategy. To illustrate this we are looking at the steel sector and specifically at tata steel as the cost leader. Tata steel Tata Steel, Indias largest steel company and the worlds sixth-largest by capacity is the cost leader in the steel manufacturing sector. Tata Steel owns raw material assets such as coal and limestone mines through joint ventures or completely, with the assets spread across countries such as Australia, oman and mozambique. Tata Steel and stateowned sail have largely been able to withstand raw material price fluctuations due to captive iron word ore mines. Tata Steel is also one of the least cost markers of steel in the world. Other private steel companies, hit by steep iron ore and coal prices, have passed on the hikes first to the customers, prompting the government to clamp down on price increases to control inflation.
Tight cost control. Incentives based on quantitative targets. A firm attempts to maintain a low cost base by controlling production costs, increasing their capacity utilization, controlling material supply or product distribution and festival minimizing other costs including r d and advertising. Mass production, mass distribution, economies of scale, technology, product design, learning curve benefit, work force dedicated for low cost production, reduced sales force, less spending on marketing will further help a firm to maintain low cost base. Decision makers in a cost leadership firm will be compelled to closely scrutinize the cost effciency of the processes of thefirm. Maintaining the low cost base will become the primary determinant of the cost leadership strategy. For low cost leadership to be effective a firm should have a large market share. New entrants or firms with a smaller market share may not benefit from such strategy since mass production, mass distribution and economies of scale will not make an impact on such firms.
cost product features. To be successful, this strategy usually requires a considerable market share advantage or preferential access to raw materials, components, labour, or some other important input. Without one or more of these advantages, the strategy can easily be mimicked by competitors. Successful implementation also benefits from:. Process engineering skills. Products designed for ease of manufacture. Sustained access to inexpensive capital. Close supervision of labour.
Managers and leaders in product thesis development, marketing, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and other functions may be more open to what an accounting or finance professionals can offer with a view toward supporting profitable business growth. The time may be ripe to pursue aggressive, well-planned and sophisticated cost-leadership initiatives. It is of paramount importance to lay a strong foundation for success by considering many of the behavioral, measurement, cultural and communication issues in the planning phase. In his 1980 classic Competitive strategy: Techniques for Analyzing Industries and Competitors, porter simplifies the scheme by reducing it down to the three best strategies. They are cost leadership, differentiation, and market segmentation(or focus). Market segmentation is narrow in scope while both cost leadership relatively broad in market scope. Cost leadership Strategy, this strategy emphasizes effciency. By producing high volumes of standardized products, the firm hopes to take advantage of economies of scale and experience curve effects. The product is often a basic no frills product that is produced at a relatively low cost and made available to a very large customer base.
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Economic recessions usually spark a renewed interest in rigorous, detailed and effective cost management practices. Given the lack of paper orientation, preparation or temperament for a recessionary period, the first response and reaction of most managers typically involves a "siege mentality" that includes: protecting one's turf; battening down the hatches; slashing all general ledger expense categories; and viewing the finance's department's. in past recessions, companies such as Chrysler Corp., johnson johnson and several units of General Electric. Have improved their profitability, productivity and performance with the rigorous, systematic and effcient use of business process analysis, activity based costing and cycle time compression metrics, among other things. Accounting and finance executives in winning companies have built career lasting reputations for excellence by leading cost leadership initiatives with the cooperation and support of their business partners. Successful cost-leadership initiatives often involve more than a singular tool. Imagine trying to complete a major home repair project with a limit of just one tool; it would be virtually impossible. The same is true for cost-leadership initiatives. Surveys at a variety of companies in various industries have found that the overall reputation of the finance and accounting function and leadership has improved materially in the last two decades.