Monday, January 21, 2019 | ePaper
Managing the operations to achieve business goals
Ever since all companies have operations, in other words, certain ways to create an optimal output from various input sources, whether it be manufacturing physical products or offering services, it is good to be familiar with the basics of managing the operations. Particularly, as mastering the basics may directly support the business goals.
Operations management was before named production management, noticeably showing its origins in manufacturing. Traditionally, it all began with the division of production, starting as early as the times of ancient craftsmen, then spreading more widely only by adding the concept of interchangeability of parts in the eighteenth century, ultimately sparking the industrial revolution.
From the 1950's and 1960's, it formed a separate discipline, besides bringing other concepts, such as Taylorism, production planning, or inventory control, to life.
Operations management focuses on carefully managing operations to produce and distribute products and services. Major public activities often include product creation, development, production and distribution. Related activities include procurement management, inventory control, quality control, warehousing, logistic and operations evaluation. There is a great deal of emphasis on efficiency and effectiveness of operations. Eventually, the nature of how an organization's operations are managed depends largely on the nature of the products or services in the organization, for example, in retail, manufacturing or wholesale.
Activities of operations management: Operations management deals with various strategic issues including determining the size of manufacturing plants and project management methods and implementing the structure of information technology networks. Other operational issues include the management of inventory levels, including work-in-process levels and raw materials acquisition; quality control; materials handling; and maintenance policies. Design -Before planning processes or designing products, operations management should be busy analysing the market to test the demands. If it delivers promising results, e.g. a niche to target or a new product or service to develop, one can start planning. Therefore, it is important to set proper measures in the planning phase, to know if the actual performance meets them, or there is need for adjustments. Capacity is one of these measures, as is product quality, or delivery times. The initial figures are usually estimates based on the market analysis conducted beforehand. Supply Chains and logistics - Operations management understands local and global trends, customer demand and the available resources for production. Operations management approaches the acquisition of materials and use of labour in a timely, cost-effective manner to deliver customer expectations. Inventory levels are monitored to ensure excessive quantities are on hand. Operations management is responsible for finding vendors that supply the appropriate goods at reasonable prices and have the ability to deliver the product when needed. Ideal traits of operations managers - An individual working in operations management must have an understanding of the various processes within a company. Operations managers are involved in coordinating and developing new processes while re-evaluating current structures. Organization and productivity are two key drivers of being an operations manager, and the work often requires versatility from the operations manager. Improve - There is always room to improve when it comes to the processes used, the quality and capacity achieved, or as far as the level of inventory and human resources are concerned. Also, as a general advice, you can always consider adding some technology in the mix. The best way to do that is to develop a technology plan: identify where the company is now, in which areas it would need a boost, what relevant technologies are available, and which ones are feasible to implement.
Recent trends in operations management: The new trends on the labour market, the environmental concerns, and the digitalization of the processes require innovative approaches to operations management. Some of the trends that have a significant impact on the discipline today are: Business process reengineering (BPR) - It's a radical approach to designing core processes: take everything that you used before, discard it, and then start again from scratch. With Business Process Reengineering, you can foster innovation and improve any selected measures dramatically. If you want to do it well, focus on how you can add more value to the customer. Lean and agile manufacturing - The term lean manufacturing has become a mainstream trend in the industry, and it is used interchangeable with Just-In-Time production. The concept behind is a constant improvement of processes in order to reduce waste and inventory, and maximize the output of high-quality, low-cost products and services. Reconfigurable manufacturing system (RMS) - Another possible method for reacting to quick changes in the market is RMS, a production system that can be used with different functionalities within a product family. With an RMS, you can make adjustments in production cost-effectively. Employee involvement - A recent trend that impacts the human resources management activities in operations is the increasing involvement of employees in the planning processes. Listening to the opinions of the workers often brings up fresh ideas, a different perspective on what problems should be solved and how to make the operations more effective. Sustainability - Due to the ever constraining environmental regulations, businesses must operate under pressure to reduce their harmful impact while still being able to grow. The issues, since affecting all levels of operations, need the insights of operations management on what are the options to meet these new expectations.
One must be able to understand the series of processes within a company in order to get them to flow seamlessly, and in this sense the role is directly related to supply chain management. Meanwhile, the coordination involved in setting up these processes in practice represents logistics; the combination of understanding and coordinating the work of a company are therefore central to being a successful operations manager.
Bottom line, operations management is governed by set rules and direction, which are given by company's strategic management and necessarily needs operational information about the organization's resources, their actual status, their capacity, quality, availability and mutual relations.
(Taslim Ahammad is Assistant Professor, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University).