Civil Engineering


CERF is a Civil Engineering Research Facility at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. It deals with both development and research work which includes testing and designing of programmes. Its key projects include:

  • Improving the performance of unpaved roads in Africa.
  • New vegetable fibre geotextiles are used for renewing and replacing soils that were contaminated.
  • Usage of desorbed soils in mortars and concrete.
  • Development of new water purification system and using plant extracts for developing countries.
  • Installation of fire-resistant masonry structures.
  • Performance of lime mortars in masonry.
  • Rational use of building materials.

Initially, the group was obtaining funds from reputable UK agencies and was very successful. The current financial and economic climate worldwide forced the Government to cut the funding to The Civil Engineering Research Facility (CERF). As such there is currently pressure on the facility to increase revenue. Though CERF currently has a number of services and products that can be sold successfully to make profit, the facility does not have the know-how of making this possible. CERF does not have any marketing strategy and thus is in the dark on how to place themselves before potential customers. This creates a difficulty in their products acceptance. This in turn impacts income generation to cater for their losses due to government cuts.

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Strategies that CERF can implement in order to generate income

Strategies refer to methods that a particular organization uses in order to make profit in a particular target market. It is the best way the management can make use of their assets to secure a future for their business or organization. Every organization must have three key strategies. This is necessary to maintain them in any specific business available (Porter and Millar 1985, p.6). We have the business strategy itself, which includes all the plans of the organization to make profit and the instructions of how they are to be incorporated. We also have the information strategy which includes information transfer from the organization to the customer. This is information concerning the goods and services that are available at the organization and their applicability to the customer’s lives. Lastly, an organization must have an organizational strategy. These are the methods of management within the organization that are put in place in order to achieve the organizational goals and objectives. These three strategies must be incorporated at the same time as they go hand in hand to make an organization realize profits.

Business strategy

Business strategy is the priority of businesses because it drives the information strategy and the organizational strategy. Business strategy tries to establish the direction of the business and reasons why it is headed in that direction. It deals with the questions of business decisions, objectives, directions, and finally the changes that become required (Mathur and Kenyon 1997, p. 19). A good strategy must provide precise answers to the following questions: to what extent of the organization does the strategy apply? What are the current needs of the customer? What does the future hold for current customers or potential customers of the organizational products? What needs are to be done as soon as possible in order to secure a future for the organization? What are the unique characteristics of the organization that will give it a competitive advantage in meeting its current and future needs? As we think about these questions, we must bring into focus the organization in question which is Civil Engineering Research Facility. We must think about the special services or goods that CERF is capable of bringing to the Asian market that gives it an advantage over all the other similar organizations. We must establish to what extent our strategy will be applied to CERF. For example, at the beginning of the strategy, we ought to determine which wings of CERF we will deal most with and which ones are more potentially profitable in our target market, namely Asia. We must form a team to establish customer needs. This is necessary to allow for one among the seven projects that is most viable to be concentrated on. After all these factors become established, an immediate plan must be devised in order to secure a future for CERF organization. Analysis of the organization must lead to action and commitment.

A good strategy will be the one which is correctly scoped, addresses real customer needs, contributes to competitive advantage, is properly documented for future reference, and exploits genuine competencies and lays the ground for implementation (Mathur and Kenyon 1997, p. 16).

The scope of the organization

Every strategy should clearly define the scope of the organization that it is likely to touch. This is simply because most organizations are very wide in scope. CERF currently has seven projects which it is working on. We must establish one out of the seven, the one that has most potential in Asia and emphasizes on that. This is because working on all the seven at the same time may be too tedious, or may distract the organization from one that has more potential than others. In any event that we decide to embark on more than one project at a go, we must draw up different strategies for each project so that the viability of each project can be determined separately. We need to know that when customers are making decisions to buy, they will not buy all the products of the organization. They buy units of their choice after comparing and contrasting the offers with other organizations. For example, CERF has seven different projects running that may be similar with those from other organizations. Out of the seven, there may be two that are very cost effective for them as compared to other organizations. These should be the projects that are most applicable in Asia. This means that for both projects, their services may be cheaper than other organization’s services. This makes hiring their expertise in those sectors very viable for both the customer and the organization. This explains the importance of making specific strategies for every sector of the organization. As we choose the scope of the organization, we need to create a balance. This is so that all projects of CERF can have a future and not just one, but much more.

Strategic assessment

This is analysis of the outside environment of the organization and the capabilities of the organization. CERF must look at its competitors in Asia and the kind of goods and services they provide. This is so that they can determine their most capable points from the weaknesses of their competitors. This must provide an assessment of the current status and future prospects of the organization that need to be continued. This makes it easier to change the terms of operation. Options have to be identified and choices made. The reasons for preferring one project to another have to be outlined and must be persuasive to the customer. This must directly relate to the capabilities of the organization.

Goals and objectives

The objectives and goals of the organization must be measurable, supporting and also valuable. These goals should point directly to meeting both the customer’s needs and the stakeholders’ needs. CERF must make a clarification of why they want to make a profit from their project and these objectives for making profit should be clear to everyone involved. This is so that every person involved can work towards meeting of these goals.

Meeting the real needs of customers

This is the key drive of the strategy. It is of great importance to understand the needs of the customers and establish the ways how to satisfy them better than your competitors. This could also involve understanding the Asian culture. Satisfaction of these needs should also be profitable to the organization and the customer. CERF must find a way to beat their competitors at meeting their customers’ needs. They must make a thorough analysis and understanding of its potential customers needs in Asia. It must understand the nature, and scope of the customer’s needs and how these needs are changing. If possible, CERF should involve marketing people to look into this so that production becomes directly connected to the customer’s needs. This is very important because they are looking to make profit in a new place. They can therefore hire a resident of Asia to do this research for them.

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Exploiting genuine competence of the organization

This is also an important strategy because the organization seeks to make a profit from what it is best in. This can only be done after measuring resources and identifying capabilities. This provides a basis from which the organization can differentiate itself from their competition. If CERF can identify their area of competence as compared to their resources, they can be able to exploit it for major profits. This is because if one project can be worked on thoroughly and come out better than the competitors, then it means customers will go for the CERF products. One project that the organization is good at can be exploited to generate income to fund other projects. This is so that they can provide products that are viable for the customer (Heracleous 2003, p. 45). This means that out of one project that an organization is good at, there can be profits to help them expand all their other projects to enable them attain success for the whole organization.

Providing sustainable competitive advantage

An organization should use strategies that use the capabilities of the firm to meet the customer needs in ways that lead to sustainable competitive advantage. The strategy must look at the long-term sustainable advantage. CERF must look at the issue of competitive advantage realistically in relation to its resources. There strategy must be both offensive and defensive. This means that there projects must produce products that will overtake their competitors in the market and also have added advantages that will keep it at the top. A good example is the new water purification system that uses plant extracts for developing countries. This idea is not only sustainable but also very environmental and health friendly. Meaning it makes it difficult for any other firm to come up with an idea that will over throw that one.

Laying the ground for implementation

After the organization has analyzed everything about their strengths, customers and sustainability, they must then lay down the ground for implementation. They must identify the principal initiatives that will be necessary to implement the strategies. This involves identification of, culture, business process and organization of the Asians (Porter and Millar 1985, p. 3). It must argue out the case for change in a manner that will cause the locals to embrace it immediately. It should set fixed but achievable targets for the time-scales in which changes can be achieved. When all these get laid down in place properly, then the organization will be able to exploit the capabilities of the enterprise to gain and sustain competitive advantage in serving customers in a chosen market place and make profit.

Information strategy

The information revolution is sweeping through the economy today. No organization can escape its effects. Information is power. This is information around the organization, to the customer and back to the organization. The main strategy of marketing and advertising an organizations product is an information process. It is very vital to have a complete cycle of communication about all parties involved in the making and selling of products. People must always stay informed for organizational goals and objectives to be achieved. CERF organization must embrace information technology as a key strategy if it is to compete on the same grounds with other organizations that provide the same product.

Information technology does not only involve computers, but everything that gets invented to make the work of man easier. Technologies like factory automation and other hardware and services get involved too. CERF must work hard to embrace the latest technology that their competitors are using to stay in the market. Information revolution makes an impact on the market competition on three important; it changes the structure of the industry and in doing so, changes the rules of competition (Kay 1999, p. 208). It also creates competitive advantage by giving companies new courses to outsmart their rivals, which is a key thing that CERF need right now. Lastly, technology can develop a whole new business from within an organization’s existing operations. This is a very vital thing for CERF because through information technology they can be able to develop one of their projects into a worldwide booming business if the steps under business strategy become diligently followed.

Information technology changes the way organizations operate. It influences the whole process that organizations go through to produce their outputs. It also reshapes the product itself. If information gets well utilized, then an organization can portray an old product to look like a whole new product. It can teach CERF an attractive way of packaging their products and services, so that they are more attractive to the potential buyer.

Creating competitive advantage

In any organization, information technology has a powerful effect on competitive advantage in either cost or differentiation. It permits companies to get competitive advantage over other companies. This is because companies can compete over the world. Since CERF have a project of improving performance of unpaved roads in Africa, they can use the latest technology like the internet to advertise their services overseas and get orders for jobs in Asia. If their services prove better than those of organizations in Asia, then it means that they have a competitive advantage against those organizations. By doing this, it also means that information technology can change the competitive scope of the organization. With such technology, CERF is able to broaden their scope to be able to reach more customers with their products and this translates to more profits. We must also look at the possibility of using information technology to create new contacts or linkages. CERF can make use of information technology to develop links with nations in Asia where most of their projects are very applicable. In case of any opportunity for them, they can go through that link to deliver their services and with time they can be accepted in the market.

Developing of new business

The information revolution helps an organization to give birth to new industries in the following ways. This promotes technological feasibility of new businesses. For example, if new technology is to be introduced into one of the CERF projects, this will mean that the organization will start up a new business with the latest technology available. It puts them be on equal grounds with all the other organizations that they are competing against (Singh, Pangakar and Heracleous 2003, p. 105).

Secondly, information technology can also increase the performance of an organization by producing derived demand for new outputs. If CERF employees have better ways to communicate among themselves within the organization, then they can perform better. This is because at all times they are in contact discussing the business of the organizations. Communication also causes people to work better because there are better relationships between people in the organization. This means that there is good communication.Third, information technology can create a new business within an old one. Technology always brings a new way of doing old things in a better way. It can enable organizations learn how to use knowledge from their projects better to make profits. Certain projects that CERF embarks on could be finished faster than they are currently getting finished if information technology gets applied to the projects.

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To take advantage of the opportunities that the information revolution has created, CERF should:

  • Assess the information intensity;

An organization’s first move is to evaluate the existing and potential information intensity of the processes and the products of its business units. It is of great importance that the customers with whom the organization deals directly with have intense information about their products. A product requiring a large quantity of information in selling must have all that information passed to the customer before the transaction (Rummler 2007, p. 56). This is likely to make the customer less skeptical about the products and will lead to higher sales and more profit.

  • Determine the role of information technology on organization structure;

Managers should preempt the likely impact of information technology on their organizations structure. They must be able to analyze how information technology might affect their competitive forces (Delios and Singh 2012, p. 79). An organization should be able to tell very early whether or not information technology will help them or not. From there, they must quickly decide whether to adopt it or not. If an organization is not able to adopt any new technology that is there in the market, then they must come up with a strategy that will make up for that technology.

  • Investigate how information technology can be used to create new businesses in your organization.

CERF should consider opportunities to create new businesses from the projects that they are currently running. They should formulate a plan that will become enacted after the projects for the sake of generating income. For example, after completion of the project on how to come up with fire resistance of masonry structures the organization should immediately think up a strategy to take it from the organization to the people by advertising its availability, carrying out experiments to prove their project and carrying out successful pilot trials.

  • Using information that CERF has acquired through technology, they can strategize on how to create a branch of their facility in Asia, so as to be near the market.

Marketing and sales

These are the activities that the organization can undertake to ensure that the buyers purchase their products (Porter and Millar 1985, p. 4). They include factors such as; promotion of the product and retail management which deals which the small scale customers and the channel selection. Marketing and sales also includes pricing and selling of commodity through advertising. The development of using the internet as the major distribution channel of CERF services can result in multiple benefits. CERF can do a lot of sales of goods and services through the direct online sales. They can also have a lot of online marketing for their services like improving performance of unpaved roads in Africa. These are very efficient because they can be programmed in such a way that, as you log on to other pages on the internet, these adverts pop up on your screen. These adverts are able to meet very many potential customers in Asia. Marketing online can help cut a lot of advert costs that may otherwise be necessary. Customers are also able to easily compare the products of different organizations and prices offered. Customers can even evaluate the safety of the products and reputation of the organization through the internet. Such strategies help promote the product and many opt to use these products because they have enough information about them.

Organizational strategy

This part deals with everything that is related to recruiting, retention, and compensation of employees and managers. Without employees to carry out projects, CERF cannot work efficiently. Recruiting and retention of employees is a very important to ensure maximum production of goods and services. CERF must work very hard to please the employees, as much as the customers. This is because the employees are the ones that make the research possible.

Planning and management in an organization is also very important. CERF must ensure that the legal, finance, accounting and public affairs are all managed properly so as to ensure productivity. Proper planning and management leads to profit making in an organization. This is because every plan made in the organization is carried out by the departmental managers and the employees (Porter and Millar 1985 p. 8). The managers must also learn to coordinate the team to enable the team to be successful.

The manager of the organization must take control of the strategy that has been laid out for the organization for it to work. The business strategy, the information strategy and the organizational strategy must work together in order for CERF to realize profits. The best business strategy without a good organizational strategy is of no good to the firm. After laying down all other plans to help CERF succeed, the managerial sector must organize everyone properly so as to ensure success.

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