Operations Management and Its Emphasis

Operations management is primarily concerned with supervising, planning and organizing in all the contexts of manufacturing, producing or the supply of goods. In simple terms it can be said to cover the whole gamut of personnel from top management down to the frontline employees. This encompasses a wide variety of professional positions or specialized roles that these covers are procurement (getting goods or service from outside sources), management (managing relationships with people involved in production and improving a business’s sustainability with regards to energy, transport and communication) and efficiency (improving productivity by ensuring that everything runs smoothly). The other critical aspect of operations management is risk management (the prevention of any catastrophic event that would drastically affect the organization). Operations management therefore covers everything from getting raw materials to processing them to maintaining the facility (which could also be automated).

The field of operations management is highly diverse and thus a degree or certificate will not readily suffice for entry level jobs. Thus one should have excellent interpersonal skills and must be capable of synthesizing all the important inputs. It is usually accompanied by an MBA and although the duration of the program may vary, an MBA is usually required before one can pursue a career as an operations manager. An MBA will equip the individual with the scientific and mathematical skills necessary for achieving success as an operations manager. An MBA normally focuses on economics, mathematics and statistics whereas more specialized programs to provide the necessary understanding in operations management to perform better.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia writes,” Operations management (also referred to as enterprise resource planning or ERP) is a management approach that aims to improve the operations of a business through the control of resources. It is an essential element of business planning and the practice of buying the tools of marketing to gain a competitive advantage. Operations management implies the collection of data on current and past performance of an entity. This data is used to identify what actions are required to improve the efficiency of the enterprise”. Wikipedia further goes on to define operations management as: “the science of providing goods or services to a customer at the best possible time. It mainly deals with human resources, work scheduling, production planning and inventory”.

Operations systems analysis is considered to be the first step of operations management. Operations systems analysts assess the physical and logical requirements of an organization, analyse the processes involved in delivering output and identify the inputs desired by the organization to attain its goals. It may consist of three elements like planning, process re-engineering and systems integration.

A good operations management system is one that addresses the three phases mentioned above. To achieve this task, there are five major functional areas or stages in operations management. These include planning, acquiring and using needed resources, implementing the acquired methods and finally controlling the process. All these are done by the operations manager. The operations manager’s job is to ensure that the goals of the organization are achieved, by using all the resources available to him.

To improve productivity in business, operations management must be able to forecast and handle potential issues and concerns. In fact, issues are likely to crop up whenever there is a change in any of the three phases mentioned above. And to effectively manage such issues, operations management must be flexible enough to handle sudden changes by introducing the necessary procedures. For example, suppose that a new problem occurs in the production line, which is affecting the quality of products produced. The operations manager should be prepared to handle this issue by immediately installing additional equipment or establishing new work procedures without losing momentum.

The third phase of operations management is strategic planning. Strategic planning involves evaluating the inputs required by the organization, such as human capital, raw materials, energy, output and employment, in order to determine the value of the firm to be determined by economic terms. To achieve this, the manager should evaluate all the inputs and consider whether they add value to the overall firm. Once the value is established, the manager can plan on how to best use his resources, including human, physical and intellectual assets. This is done by formulating a blueprint for expansion, development and growth of the firm.

Achieving the desired goal of organizational performance is only possible if operations management has properly implemented its plans. And only then, can one draw the necessary corrective actions to correct a mistake or to bring about an improvement in the processes. And, only then, will the firm be able to improve productivity and bring about greater levels of success to its customers. All these can only be realized if the managers have properly aligned their objectives, which are in line with each other. But, when one’s objectives are not aligned, it could lead to grave risks in achieving the desired goal.