National Ferries Company’s Challenges

Executive Summary

The significance of MT has been growing exponentially for the SO due to the need for connecting the crucial ports of Musandam and allowing people to enjoy the beautiful views of the Muscat River. NFC has been delivering unique services to address the specified concern and assist people in traveling across the designated area. However, despite the tendency to introduce innovative ideas and solutions to its current concerns, NFC will require an update in its HR approach to managing the problem of resistance to change among employees. Furthermore, an improved marketing technique coupled with a transfer to the digital market setting will be needed for the company to remain relevant.

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Introduction

In the Sultanate of Oman (SO), maritime transportation (MT) plays a huge role in the economic development of the state. Because of the location of the SO, MT allows enhancing tourism and travel across the Oman coastline, thus contributing to the state economic growth significantly (Ali Ibrahim, Abdel-Gadir & Devesh 2018). Moreover, MT activities help the country to maintain its political security to a considerable extent (El-Hussain et al. 2016).

Herein lies the importance of the National Ferries Company (NFC) as the organization that provides extensive opportunities for boosting MT growth and introducing innovative technologies to the process thereof. To advance in its field, the company needs to update its current HR strategy and manage the problem of resistance to change among employees by investing in their professional development.

NFC was founded in 2008 to facilitate the transportation of passengers along the coastline of Oman, which is 3,125 km long (Central Intelligence Agency n.d.). However, as the company expanded, it began to embrace new challenges and tasks, including the need to offer a connection between the ports of the SO (Khasab, Lima, and Dibba) and its remote cities such as Shinas and Muscat (National Ferries Company 2016a).

The organization is an important mechanism in implementing the plan of SO’s national development (“Oman 2020”), which states that the SO has to develop and improve its infrastructure to meet the necessity to expand and engage in active economic development.

The industry, in turn, has been rather competitive due to the rise in the need for people to travel across the coastline. From the perspective of the industry cycle theory, the tourism industry in Oman has reached the stage of growth and is slowly approaching its maturity (Central Intelligence Agency n.d.). However, due to the impact that the NFC has on the MT sector, the probability of other companies contributing to the growth of the industry is rather low, hence its moderate size (see Figure 1).

MT in Oman: Strategy Group Model.
Figure 1. MT in Oman: Strategy Group Model.

The plan of the report is to provide the assessment of the problems that the company is currently experiencing, analyze the causes thereof, and provide recommendations for improving the efficacy of its performance. Moreover, an action plan aimed at delineating key steps that NFC will need to take in the future will be provided. Thus, one will be able to explore further prospects for the development of NFC in the Oman MT industry.

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Problem Statement

Despite being comparatively new in the MT industry of SO, NFC has garnered quite a reputation for itself due to the efficacy of its services. However, by focusing primarily on the issues associated with the management of its services, NFC has been neglecting the issue of HRM. Specifically, with the introduction of changes to the organizational setting and the focus on improvement, NFC has failed to create a comfortable setting for its employees to accept new quality standards and develop motivation for excelling in their skills.

As a result, the firm has faced strong resistance to change among its staff members, which has been affecting the quality of the transportation services and jeopardizing the firm’s future progress. The specified concern makes it extraordinarily difficult for the company to retain its position as a leader in the transportation industry. Therefore, immediate changes have to be made to the current HRM approach of NFC by introducing employee benefits and reconsidering the existing leadership approach by shifting it toward a transformational and motivational one.

To gain efficiency, NGFC has been trying to introduce changes to its project management (PM) processes, yet the resistance levels among staff members have been affecting the efficacy of projects and their implementation.

Herein lies the need to redesign the current approach toward managing the company’s scope and considering the expansion of its services. For this purpose, NFC will have to build a competitive advantage that will allow it to remain unique in the market that will be open to new entrants (Hakkak & Ghodsi 2015). Thus, NFC will need to focus on diversifying its services and introducing innovative practices into its operations to ensure that its customers will remain loyal to it.

Analysis

People

The management of human resources (HR) at NFC requires significant corrections at present. Although the organization has been striving to meet the needs of its employees based on the corporate policy, managers seem to misinterpret the factors that define the staff’s resistance to change (National Ferries Company 2017). Thus, when considering the possibilities for improving the current situation, one should focus on improving the current approach toward the corporate HR policy and the relationships between the firm and its staff.

Specifically, the communication between employees and company leaders is needed to ensure the former that they are valued and that the company is ready to invest in their development. Moreover, introducing the principles of interdisciplinary cooperation should be deemed as a priority (Soner et al. 2015). For an innovative system of communication management to be incorporated into the NFC environment, one will need to focus on promoting collaboration across different departments of the organization.

Among possible impediments to the introduction of a new corporate philosophy into the NFC setting, one will need to consider the concerns of its human resources (HR). Staff members are likely to resist the change that will entail a significant rise in the number of their responsibilities and the amount of workload that they will need to manage (Altamony et al. 2016).

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Therefore, it will be crucial to introduce NFC employees to the ideas associated with corporate values and corporate social responsibility (CSR) to motivate them to accept the idea of unceasing learning and non-incremental innovations (Perez-Soltero & Soto 2017; Opoku-Dakwa, Chen & Rupp 2018). For this purpose, the communication framework has to be enhanced within NFC.

Finance

The financial situation at NFC can be described as rather positive. By using a sustainable approach toward resource management, the company has been succeeding in reducing costs. The current cost-effective approach is based on improved waste management techniques, which is a natural framework for managing expenses (Mwasalat, NFC to connect services by land, sea (5) 2017). However, the allocation of the available finances could use changes.

For instance, investing in R&D, as well as marketing, innovations, and employee development should be regarded as critical objectives. The issue of employee development is particularly important at present. By providing staff members with an opportunity to grow professionally and acquire new competencies, NFC will create a more comfortable setting for them, thus reducing their resistance to changes. Thus, NFC will manage the current problem of resistance to change and build a strong competitive advantage based on a strong team of loyal staff members.

Marketing

In order to build a strong presence in a target market, a company needs to establish a well-developed marketing approach to ensure that people are familiar with its brand. While NFC has been providing unique services for the SO residents for a while, it does not seem to have the unique distinguishing characteristics that would make it instantly recognizable and unmistakably memorable compared to possible competitors (Baltes 2015). Indeed, a closer look at the current approach that the organization uses toward marketing will reveal that the firm has been relying on the demand for transportation across the SO coastline without building any significant awareness.

Moreover, the lack of digital tools in managing the issues associated with marketing can be seen as a major disadvantage of NFC. At present, the organization does not represent its services at its official site properly, with the interface thereof being rather inefficient (Hunsberger 2017). Furthermore, the organization would have benefitted from an application that would allow its customers to manage their orders, such as the purchase of tickets, the identification of the available transportation options, and other important information (Ansari, Jain & Kaur 2017; Pham & Gammoh 2015). However, the current functioning of the site is limited to its barest minimum, with the provided information being quite difficult to use.

Strategy

Although NSC has been performing quite well in the context of the local market, it needs to assume a different stance in the global economy. To promote its transportation services to tourists worldwide, the firm will need an intelligent transport system (ITS) that will allow navigating the global market successfully (Budiman, Walukow & Makapedua 2016). By definition, ITS offers a way of incorporating communication technologies into transport management systems to improve their basic functions such as navigation, the framework for controlling traffic signs, and security (Nguyen et al. 2016; Lim et al. 2018).

Therefore, it is critical for NFC to adopt non-incremental innovations as an integral part of its approach toward quality management. The proposed technique will allow the organization to address the current resistance to change by building the environment in which change remains an intrinsic part of corporate development. Thus, employees will be able to explore and accept the philosophy of change.

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However, the integration of the proposed changes will require that staff members should acquire new competencies and skills. With the current rates of resistance to change, the identified alterations become barely possible. Thus, the corporate issues come full circle when selecting an appropriate strategy for managing organizational and service-related issues. It is critical to shaping the existing strategy toward meeting the needs of all stakeholders involved, including not only customers and partners but also employees.

By building an employee-oriented approach, NFC will benefit significantly due to the increase in the rates of loyalty among staff members and the drop in resistance to changes. The target demographic will accept new roles and responsibilities as soon as each employee realizes that they are valued by the company.

Operations Management

At present, most operations and NFC are implemented successfully, although improvements in time management and information transfer should be seen as a necessity. The supply chain (SC) of the organization is currently quite vast, embracing the key hubs of the SO. However, it is crucial for the organization to expand further and introduce new elements to its SC. For instance, at present, the NFC uses automation extensively in the context of its SC (Thomas 2013).

However, the organization lacks the SC network that would help to keep all participants informed about the slightest changes in the schedule, as well as other crucial pieces of information. As a result, the company would deliver the product of significantly greater quality to its customers.

Moreover, Big Data has to be used to develop a predictive framework for managing inbound logistics. To improve the delivery of the required resources and their further management, NFC will need to deploy “tactical inbound logistics planning” (Knolla, Prüglmeier & Reinhart, 2016). The proposed solution will allow tracking down the slightest changes in the management of resources and, thus preventing the cases involving delays, misunderstandings, and other issues such as problems caused by possible defects in purchased vehicles (Perera & Mo 2016).

The use of Big Data, however, will require the active cooperation and interdisciplinary dialogue between employees, which is going to be a challenge given the current resistance toward change among staff. Thus, NFC should use the changes in communication technology in order to foster a different organizational culture and introduce staff members to the idea of transparency within the firm. With the enhancement of information sharing and collaboration, employees will realize that the NFC leaders are willing, to be honest about future changes and ready to cooperate to assist employees in accommodating innovations. Thus, the issue of resistance to change will be handled.

Project Management

The project management of the organization could also use certain improvements. For instance, the current SCM process and the information management techniques will require improvements. Moreover, it will be critical for the company to focus on introducing innovative thinking into the organizational context. Specifically, one needs to keep in mind that the company has been experiencing difficulties in the HR area due to the resistance to change among employees.

In addition, NFC has shown to have developed quite impressive PM strategies. For instance, the company has established a well-thought-out Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) approach that has contributed to the enhancement of its value chain, thus adding to the competitive advantage of the organization. By integrating the ERP principles such as innovative thinking and teamwork into the corporate framework, NFC has built the platform for maintaining service quality consistent, at the same time reducing resistance to change among employees (Altamony et al. 2016).

Compared to what its rivals offer, NFC promotes the culture of innovation and does not hesitate to incorporate non-incremental innovations into its set of tools for PM. As a result, the organization will develop the philosophy that, when compared with incentives and benefits for staff members, will motivate them to accept the change and strive to improve their performance.

Conclusion

As the analysis performed above has shown, it is critical for NF to focus on the redesign of its approach toward HRM and communication in the course of PM, as well as the integration of innovative solutions into its current service management technique. By placing a greater emphasis on the importance of innovative thinking and the focus on the needs of all stakeholders, including staff members, NFC is likely to improve the quality of its services to a significant degree.

As a result, it will gain a competitive advantage that will allow it to not only remain a leader in the home market but also enter the global one and extend its services to explore other opportunities. Particularly, the firm will create the grounds for building loyalty and motivation among its staff members by proving that it values them and is ready to invest in their professional and personal growth.

Recommendations

At present, it is highly recommended for the company to address the issue of HRM and shape its current value system to reflect its care for employee and their development, Incentives, and opportunities for acquiring new knowledge and skills should be offered t employees to ensure that they appreciate NFC’s efforts. Thus, the levels of employee motivation and, consequently, customer satisfaction will rise, and NFC will remain a leader in its industry.

Moreover, the focus on using non-incremental innovations in the corporate setting should be seen as a priority. Thus, NFC will build a value system that will encourage its staff to recognize the importance of professional growth. As a result, NFC will maintain the quality of the product consistent.

Action Plan: Way Forward (Further Directions)

When considering the changes that NFC will have to make to its business environment immediately, one should mention the transfer to an employee-oriented philosophy and the creation of new opportunities for staff members. Simultaneously, a framework of non-incremental innovations being integrated into the firm’s functioning should be regarded as a crucial long-term change that will affect the organization on a very profound level.

By the end of the following two months, the company should transfer at least 20% of its processes into the online setting to ensure that customers are provided with all available tools for obtaining the firm’s services. Specifically, the processes of booking, scheduling, and paying for the ordered services will have to be introduced to the online setting. In addition, it is expected that the proposed change will reduce the levels of resistance to change among employees by at least 80%.

Another step that will launch a series of changes causing alterations in the long-term perspective is considering the opportunities for introducing opportunities for staff members to receive additional knowledge and train new skills. A system of learning based on knowledge sharing and interdisciplinary cooperation will need to be introduced to the organization. Coupled with an improved benefits package including additional incentives, the proposed change is expected to reduce the levels of resistance among employees. Thus, the NFC will be able to branch out into other areas of business, increasing its profit margins.

The identified process will have to be twofold since it will involve addressing two primary goals, which are building employee loyalty rates and reducing their resistance to change. To ensure that the company’s staff will remain devoted to NFC, it will be necessary to alter the current benefits package to include additional options for the staff such as parental leaves and educational opportunities such as competency courses. Thus, NFC will build a sustainable competitive advantage that will allow the firm to maintain its performance at the required high level.

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