In industry, no matter what the service or product is being provided, several people are in place to ensure that budgets are adhered to, that customers receive what they expect, that profits are maximised, and more. This is often referred to as operations management and is critical to remaining competitive within the market and growing the business. Below we examine the different elements associated with operations management, and the overall effect this vital role has on a business.
What is operations management?
In simple terms, operations management can be defined as the administration of business practices to enhance efficiency across an organisation. This entails working with people, processes, technology, materials and machines. The focus of operations management is to keep costs down, ensure excellent customer service in delivering goods and services, enhance efficiency, and improve revenue. In short, operations management relates to people management skills and project management.
Operations management is a necessary function within a business as it connects a number of different departments from sales, marketing, finance, business development, and customer service. There needs to be complete transparency across all departments for operations management to be successful.
The person who holds this function in a business is aptly named the Operations manager. They are responsible for several activities that include planning, executing and managing the production of goods and services. They are also responsible for the management of people in the workplace. These can be defined according to several functions and roles, which we look into below.
What are the functions and roles of operations management and an operations manager?
One of the key roles that an operations manager fulfils is the evaluation of current and proposed systems and procedures. They will need to make recommendations on these processes and systems to ensure that the business is functioning in the most efficient way possible. Due to this critical role, Operations Managers will often lead these projects and report directly to senior management.
Other responsibilities fulfilled by an operations manager include:
- Project management – is the application of processes, methods, skills, knowledge and experience to achieve specific business project objectives. This is usually constrained by a set of particular deliverables and budget and timeline parameters.
- Planning for information systems – refers to the planning necessary to develop strategies that ensure that the technology systems chosen are the right systems, perform the right functions and are aligned to the business’s needs, objectives and goals.
- Supporting product design, product planning, service planning, and service execution strategies – refers to ensuring that every element related to product development and planning is managed effectively and with the overall company goals in mind.
- Handling supply chain and optimising logistics – refers to managing the entire supply chain to ensure products and services are delivered on time and when customers need them.
- Maintaining quality control activities – ensures that the products and services are up to company standards and the customer experience in terms of quality.
- Streamlining procurement, logistics, buying, and purchasing of raw materials – ensuring that the business has the resources necessary to fulfil customer jobs and orders.
From the above, it is clear that an operations manager is involved in every aspect of a business. To do this job effectively, an operations manager must have several skills.
What skills are needed for operations management?
For an operations manager to be effective at their job, they need to possess several skills, including:
- Leadership – relates to effectively leading and managing a team of people to ensure that all jobs are done effectively while creating a welcoming and happy working environment. A large element related to this is how to manage people’s emotions, which an operations manager will need to master in order to be an effective leader.
- Conflict management – in every business, at some point or another, there is going to be conflict. This is one of the most significant people management problems that operations managers need to deal with. This could be between team members or between employees and customers etc. An operations manager is responsible for effectively managing and approaching these situations to ensure that the business is not negatively impacted.
- Flexibility – business is dynamic and ever-changing, which means that things often need to be adapted and changed within short notice. This requires a strategic brain and flexibility.
- Critical thinking – the ability to think critically is essential, especially where trends, patterns, forecasting, budgeting and planning are concerned. An operations manager needs to be able to think outside of the box, examine the situation thoroughly and come up with the best possible actions or solutions.
- Excellent time management – in business, they say time is money; this is why having excellent time management skills are so necessary. An operations manager must ensure that all products and services are delivered correctly and that all projects and jobs are completed within the defined timeline.
Operations managers also need to utilise different strategies to ensure efficiency and high-performance levels. This includes:
- Data analysis – refers to the process of using analysed data to improve efficiency and streamline everyday operations in real-time to reduce downtime, improve productivity, better capacity utilisation, more accurate forecasting, higher flexibility, streamlined production processes, and improved efficiency.
- Cross-functional collaboration – is the process where individuals from different departments in an organisation with varying areas of expertise come together to achieve a common goal.
- People management – when asked what is people management? The answer is that people management is the process of hiring, leading, and developing team members to support the organisation’s overall mission. People managers handle all people-related tasks involving new talent, employee engagement, and career development.
Challenges experienced in operations management and tools to solve these
In operations management, across industries, there are several different challenges that operations managers need to manage. These include:
- Ethics – in simple terms, ethics refers to the need for all operations, functions and activities to enhance consumers’ lives and society and not cause damage or harm. In this way, an operations manager must ensure that every aspect of the business and its operations, including accounting, human resource management, marketing and sales, and production, is ethically conducted.
- Market competitiveness – globalisation has led to increased competition across markets, so it is up to the operations manager to look at new ways for the business to remain competitive. This is closely related to the functions related to planning, organising, leading, and controlling to ensure that the product or service remains competitive in the market.
- Sustainability – refers to evaluating whether a business can maintain existing practices concerning social, environmental and economic factors. Operations managers must examine and align themselves to each of these elements to ensure sustainability for the business.
- Open communication – consistent and effective communication is key to business success. This is why it is essential for there to be open lines of communication with internal and external stakeholders. This breaks down silos and can help you identify opportunities for improvement and problems faster, thereby mitigating risks.
The question now remains: How does an operations manager solve these challenges and ensure they are doing their job in the best possible way? The answer lies in using technological tools to enhance efficiency, labour costs, customer experience, communication and more. A people management tool like Adapt IT’s EasyRoster enables this.
This kind of people management and project management tool aims to enhance different elements related to an operations manager’s roles and responsibilities. This includes:
- Adaptability – this solution will give an operations manager a complete overview of all contracts, jobs, personnel, rosters and more so that if there is a problem, they will have a line of sight of everything needed to adapt to the new needs. This enhances ethical conduct and improves overall communication while allowing the operations manager to develop effective people management strategies.
- Automation – by automating different people management tasks and processes like employee scheduling and rostering, an operations manager can save significant amounts of time and dedicate this to more important tasks to enhance the business’s competitiveness and sustainability.
- Personalisation – through this kind of tool, an operations manager can personalise his interactions with all stakeholders. They will also access service level and customer experience reports, providing the insights necessary to personalise customer services and better answer customers’ needs. This also enables an operations manager to effectively tackle people risk management.
- Inter-disciplinary integrations – one of the most significant advantages of using this workforce management tool is the inter-disciplinary integrations. This tool can be integrated into several systems across departments, including payroll, reducing administrative burdens and enhancing the overall communication within the business.
From the above, it is clear that operations management and operations managers are vital to the success of a business. This profession does not come without its own set of challenges. Luckily, people management and project management tools have been developed to assist operations managers with their vital roles and responsibilities. One such tool is EasyRoster which is an effective workforce management solution. Book a demo today for more information on how EasyRoster can assist you as an operations manager.
As a Senior Product Manager at Adapt IT, I lead the division responsible for one of our flagship products, EasyRoster. Our primary focus is to empower organisations with top-tier Workforce Management Software, enabling them to optimise operational efficiency and streamline processes.
With over 12 years of experience in the industry, I have collaborated with clients across 25+ countries, delivering training sessions and offering labor efficiency consultations to diverse groups of professionals.
In my capacity as Senior Product Manager, I oversee a multidisciplinary team that together, strive to create innovative solutions and maintain our commitment to excellence in the realm of workforce management.