Business operations is a broad classification, which can mean different things based on what kind of business is being discussed. Nevertheless, business operations in its simplest and broadest sense designates all processes (operations) related to a business’s regular activities, which contribute directly or indirectly to running the business. As we can see here, this is a very broad categorization that includes almost everything related to the company’s activities.
Business Operations Management Definition: Perspective of an Operations Manager
If we were to look at business operations from the perspective of an operations manager, the definition would be a lot more focused. Business operations here would mostly include daily business activities and processes that have a direct influence on the company’s revenue generation, profit margin, annual expenses, and net value.This is the part that should also be of most importance to an aspiring operations manager because the goals mentioned are also representative of what an operation manager will be expected to achieve for their employer.
If you are already working in operations or procurement, boost your own knowledge, understanding, leadership skills, and professional qualifications in the field by completing a Masters in Operations Management online course. The course is designed especially for working professionals. As an online program, it allows that much-needed flexibility to work a job and study for a better future without having to sacrifice one for another.
Business Operations Management Goals
It would be difficult to define the exact goals of an operation manager without knowing any details about the employer, the employee’s prior experience, and the job on offer. However, there are several well-known expectations that we can use to explain what business operations managers are expected to achieve upon being hired. The primary goals of any operations manager would be along the lines of:
- Assessing the operational efficiency of crucial daily business processes.
- Devising, testing, and deploying new strategies to boost regular operational efficiency with long-term goals in plan.
- Devising short-term and long-term plans to decrease expenses.
- Implementing plans to reduce the gap between revenues generated and the net operating profit earned.
Business Operations Management Responsibilities
Unlike the final goals, the responsibilities of a business operations manager are more nuanced. The goals can still be viewed as an operation manager’s ultimate responsibility, but those goals cannot be manifested without a proper set of plans built around their primary roles and responsibilities.The following are some of the primary components that define an OM’srole and responsibility.
As an operation manager, it is your goal to ensure that all relevant internal communication channels are existent, functioning, and double ended. For example, if corporate cannot decipher a problem that their labor team is facing and the labor team is unable to communicate their problem freely and/or properly to the executives, it would create a bottleneck.
In case proper communication is not established quickly and a solution cannot be reached via mutual collaboration between them, operational workflow will take an immediate hit.Since that directly derails one of the core responsibilities of an operations manager, they must act fast to open clear, both-way communication channels for mitigating misunderstandings and finding a solution to the original problem. To avoid such problems in communication down the line, an OM should take special care to keep lines of communication open between and within all departments.
Delegation and Reassignment
Managing business operations is a vast, multifaceted, and complicated job. The higher-ups are aware of that fact, so OMs are often given enough power to make their actions and executive decisions more decisive. One of those administrative powers often enjoyed by the operation manager is their ability to hire, assign, reassign, and delegate individuals as they deem necessary for increasing efficiency.
While acting as the resource manager, OMs will be in charge of everything related to inventory and supply chain management. As the resource manager, the OM may also decide to refunnel resources from one department to another if they have reason to believe that would be a better use of the available resources. Making a more efficient choice for improving resource efficiency is just one of the many hats that operation managers wear.
Creating Long-Term Plans for Optimizing Business Processes
Other than the immediate steps they can take to improve operational efficiency for the company, the OM must also create long-term plans, aka roadmaps for the various departments to follow. These are usually extended combinations of their immediate steps that have been tested, validated, verified, and accepted as standard plans for boosting efficiency down the line as well.
Policy Compliance Management
As the lead in operations, it is up to the manager to ensure that all business operations under their control are compliant with applicable company policies. This aspect of their job is not as much about making money, as it is about not losing money and/or reputation. Most company policies that the operations manager must deal with are created primarily with applicable federal/state laws in mind. Therefore, each time a company policy is violated, there is a chance that the company may incur heavy fines on account of that indiscretion.
Since OMs are key managerial executives who oversee multiple interconnected external and internal processes, their work can have a profound impact on:
- operating policy development and/or amendment.
- Talent acquirement and retention.
- Average employee attrition rate.
- Evaluation of relevant operational strategies implemented by the competition.
- Evaluation of business operations, business processes, budget allocations, and present goalsin comparison to market conditions.
Pro Tips from Experts to Succeed as an Operations Manager
In a recent article published on Forbes, Beth Worthy pointed out how crucial the role of an operation manager is for the whole business. Depending on how competent or incompetent an operations manager turns out to be, it can either boost or sink a young company’s future possibilities. That is a lot of pressure to carry on any professional’s shoulder, so here are five tips from industry veterans to help aspiring and young OMs succeed.
Become a Realistic and Constructive Communicator
Business operations management is one of the few places within the modern corporate structure that leaves very little room for fluff. However, that does not mean there is no room for diplomacy either. The idea is to communicate clearly and effectively as soon as you need to. However, it is best not to be too harsh or overly critical while giving your feedback. Stick to the points, avoid opinionated feedback, but deliver the message that needs to be delivered to improve productive efficiency.
Do Not Interfere with an Internal Department Until You Must
As a lead in business operations, there is virtually no limit to your potential interactions with other departments. Since the OM is responsible for managing internal communications, interacting with other departments is a constant requirement of the job description. Therefore, the temptation to interfere will be strong, especially when you have the power to do so with immediate effect.
Unfortunately, that will neither serve the goals of your company, nor will it do your own career any good. Unnecessary and excessive interference in other departments will work against building the free, two-way communication that you were supposed to foster and encourage. Try not to interfere with how things work inside a department unless it really starts to get in your goals of making company operations more efficient. If that happens, follow tip one and deliver your feedback with perfect clarity and exercise authority to get your point across.
Delegate as Much as You Need to
Operation management requires a lot of work and if you try to do it all on your own, you will not be able to optimize your own efforts. Delegate as much of the responsibilities to talented, potential individuals as you need to. Do not view delegation as an excuse to shirk off responsibility because it isn’t.When used with proper deliberation, it can turn out to be a tool to nurture new talent as well.
Get to Know about Lean Management
It is a well-known fact that employers hire operation managers to optimize cost-efficiency, boost profit margins, and improve product quality. Most of those expectations are based on principles of lean in business. So, it is highly recommended that you get yourself well acquainted with lean management techniques before taking up the role of an OM.
If you plan to complete your master’s degree in operations management, then taking up lean management separately is not necessary.There is a high chance you will be taught everything that you may need to know about lean management, Six Sigma, etc.
Operations Management Vs Supply Chain Management
In theory, the main difference that separates supply chain management from operations management is that the former oversees external operations, while the latter manages internal operations. As already stated previously, that is not necessarily how it works in a real business setting. Operation managers can and often do have more power than supply chain managers because they are the ones who decide on all core internal business processes.
A supply chain manager will usually not have the knowledge or authority to instruct an operations manager regarding internal process management, but an OM with the right kind of education and experience can make an SCM follow their instructions and plans for external business processes as indicated by them. However, a lot depends on seniority, performance, and expertise of the two managers as well.
Nevertheless, the key takeaway here is that it not uncommon for operations managers to take over supply chain management duties for a short while, but that does not happen the other way around. If you are curious about why SCMs cannot supersede OMs in most companies, then the answer is eligibility. Operations management is such a vast,all-encompassing field that both supply chain management and inventory management are just two facets of business operation management.
A certified, senior OM with at least a master’s degree in the subject is indeed qualified enough to oversee both internal and external business operations.They tend not to do so for any longer than necessary, but that is unless they are trying to trace and minimize expenses in the supply chain. That being said, there are hardly any differences between the average yearly earnings of an operations manager and a supply chain manager.
Project Managers vs Operation Managers
Now, this is where things get a bit more interesting because these are two comparable job titles, but none of the two executives can take over the role of another without studying and training in the subject first. We have discussed operation management in great detail already, so let’s just look at what role a project manager plays.
The role of a project manager is to form teams, create detailed plans, execute said plans, and complete projects in time. In many ways, the project manager is the most important member of the team that’s working on a given project. Not unlike operation managers, project managers are also in charge of all internal processes within the team.
Despite the similarities, an operation manager holds importance and relevance on a much larger scale. The powers, roles, and responsibilities of the project lead are limited to the project only, while the operations manager can oversee optimizing an entire company’s cumulative business operations with authority to make necessary changes as necessary.
Do note that in a real business scenario, the project manager and the operations manager will have no reason to be competitive with each other. They handle different roles, albeit with quite a few similarities.
If you are trying to find the best managerial graduation degree to pursue through comparison, then the information can be useful in determining which role would best suit your own prior experience and qualifications.It should also be mentioned that on an average, operations managers earn more than project managers. From that perspective so completing a masters in operations online can be considered a better career choice for some at least.