If you have a business, you have a product or service that you’re trying to sell to the wider consumer market. Even if you run a non-profit organization, you want to convince people that your service is beneficial to invest in. Ensuring you have the highest-quality product or service your organization can provide is essential to standing out in a highly competitive market.
You may know that every good business has a core operations management team. When starting a business, it can be overwhelming trying to understand what exactly an operations manager does. What skills should they have, and what do operations management add to you your business? This article can answer some of these questions and help introduce you to the value of operations management.
The Task of Operations Management
Operations management is the part of your business that ensures your company is providing the best product and service possible. Not only that, but they are also in charge of every aspect of planning out production, systematizing your workforce, and supervising the general stages of production. An operations manager ensures that all work is done efficiently.
When you have an operations manager, they ensure that all the resources your business brings in to make products or provide services, (from labor to basic supplies) are used as effectively as possible. They deal, and often plan out, all the day-to-day procedures that need to be done so your business is successful in achieving its goals. This includes a long list of responsibilities that help your business both stand out and stay cost-effective.
Here are some of the duties you should expect an operations management to deal with:
Product design. Coming up with a product is just the first step of having a business based around the product. A well-designed product finds an equilibrium between quality and quantity, offering the consumer enough of the product to deem it worthy of the price while maintaining a high-quality level. An operations manager is there to assure this quality level is consistent and that your product works with current trends in the market.
Facility Planning. Having a well-planned out facility, be it an office or a factory, helps facilitate the efficient production of products and the effectiveness of staff in a service industry. Facility planning affects how much product you can safely produce and ship in a single location. Market research will be instrumental here to be absolutely positive that your facility can handle the amount of business you’ll be doing.
Forecasting. Continuing with the last point, an operations manager should be able to forecast trends in the market by looking at recent and historical market data. A good forecaster can help prepare the business for expected dips and increases in service or product sales. They can make necessary changes to how much inventory is purchased, product price changes, and other necessary adjustments to keep your business at the front of market trends.
Managing Supply Chain. No matter what you’re making or serving, you need to purchase raw materials to bring a successful final product to your customer. From the start of production to shipping off your products for distribution, an operations manager makes certain your product is delivered efficiently and cost-effectively. Now your “raw materials,” can simply be labor, but it also includes other things like technology, mechanical parts, lumber, cleaning supplies, and even cardboard boxes for successful shipping. This is done by keeping careful track of inventory and sourcing from reasonably priced suppliers. It is also managing the production process, distribution of raw supplies and completed products, and sales.
Employee Structure. Making sure that your employees are organized is an essential part of helping your business run effectively. When employees work in a poorly designed company, they are more likely to feel dissatisfied and alienated. An alienating workplace often means you see a decrease in productivity. It also makes it is harder to keep long-term employees. An operations manager should know how to map out a workflow that automates as much as possible (saving the business money on personnel) and identifies places in the current workflow that need improvement.
Delivery Management. Your operations management is also in charge of ensuring that your products make it to delivery and that the intended recipient received them. Your manager should make contact with distribution centers and customers to ensure that the product was delivered. This is also a good time to receive feedback on the product to assure it met their expectations and/or needs.
Skills of an Operations Manager
There is a wide scope of jobs that operations management is in charge of ensuring are successful. So, choosing someone with the right skills to handle all these tasks is essential to making sure your business is built well and runs smoothly.
Here are some skills you should look for in any prospective manager looking to become an operations manager.
Being Organized. There are many things an operations manager has to keep track of. If they’re going to successfully manage numerous processes and projects an operations manager should keep track of everything without being overwhelmed by their responsibilities. The ability to keep a laser focus, but also a strong ability to keep organized, are vital to making sure the job is done well. If important tasks pile up and remain uncompleted, your business will lose valuable time and money. Staying organized is particularly important for your business to stay efficient and productive.
Team Coordination. While your operations manager needs to be organized, your operations manager is also going to need to be good at multi-tasking and coordinating multiple teams of employees at once. A good operations manager knows how to switch between several different specific activities while keeping all production moving in a positive direction. They should handle any crisis or interruption in their other work well. Then they should quickly offer solutions for any problems that they encounter while still being able to return to regular work without any difficultly.
Communication Skills. Managing so many different clients and departments can mean being in contact with a wide variety of people with many different needs every day. An operations manager needs to know how to professionally conduct themselves when reaching out to suppliers and distribution centers, how to deal with stakeholders, other managers, employees in several different business departments, and they will even have to know how to handle speaking to clients and customers.
Technology Skills. Even in the smallest business, you likely deal with several different programs that help your business run smoother. You likely deal with several computers, devices, and various pieces of equipment that you need to be working properly.
An operations manager should be technologically literate in a technology-driven world. They should also know if there are new technologies on the market that could bring practical value to your company. This is an age of constantly innovating technology after all, and an operations manager should decide when to schedule any existing software updates so that they make a minimal impact on production. A tech-literate operations manager should also be able to handle minor technical complaints from employees, and understand when technology can effectively add more automation to your business.
How Operations Management Uses These Skills.
Any manager you want to lead your operations management should be able to make long-term and short-term decisions that will help improve your business. These two categories are called strategic and tactical. Let’s explore.
Strategic. Strategic decisions deal with long-term choices that will affect your business for the coming years and have wide-reaching consequences if a decision is made poorly. This includes things like picking facility location, choosing the technology you’ll be using, making predictions about consumer demand, and choosing your production/resources capacity. These are often expensive decisions you’ll only make once in a while.
Tactical. Tactical decisions have shorter-term effects on your business but are still crucial to day-to-day operations. These decisions include: how inventory is managed, scheduling your workforce, work procedures that ensure qualities, and contracting your next vendors. These decisions can be changed more easily than strategic decisions, however, a good manager will make help make the best decision possible the first time and will avoid backtracking.
Choose an operations manager that can handle making these kinds of important decisions. They should utilize the skills they claim to have to effectively do their job. If the manager can do that, they should be able to handle all the myriad jobs and responsibilities required of them, be that in strategic or tactical phases of decision making.
Using Operations Management to Improve Your Business
When you become an operations manager or find a trusted and trained individual to be an operations manager for your business you’re inviting the kind of management that will ensure your business is running effectively. You’ll gain a competitive advantage over your competitors by hiring a good market forecaster, will be spending your money more effectively on raw materials and distribution, and will generally reduce the costs of operation.