Operation management is an emerging multidisciplinary field that is frequently misinterpreted due to its complex nature. This major is a popular choice among those enrolling in MBA programs, and after graduation, operation managers often become the linchpin of their organizations as so many responsibilities rest on their shoulders. The actual duties of an operation manager vary greatly depending on the business needs of a given company.
In the modern context, such specialists often take up the roles of a human resource, outsource, and resource manager. The moderate relationships between those involved in the work processes, acquire goods and services from external sources and ensure sustainable use of resources. In this paper, I aim at eliminating vagueness and clarifying what operation management is and is not by interviewing M., 35, who works in retail.
M. has been working in supply chain management for eight years now and describes her position as a major upgrade from a similar position at a smaller company. When asked what attracts her about the field, M. emphasizes the diversity of tasks, which is mentally challenging and does not let her fall back into the routine. “No one day is like another. One morning my boss can break the news that I am in charge of negotiating with manufacturers who want to sell their goods on our e-commerce platforms. Tomorrow, our HR-manager calls me to her office to help to recruit candidates.
She needs to make sure that they understand the mission and vision of our company, and I’m the ambassador of its core values.” On top of what M. listed, operation managers often have to handle legal procedures and even tap into budgeting and auditing. They are mediators between all company’s departments and do their best to uphold policies and ramp up efficiency and performance.
Operation Management Tools
The woman admits that when she first applied for her current job in retail, operation management was still a new concept that many used as a buzzword. As the company was expanding continuously, the managing board started to take the theoretical framework and practical tools more seriously. “One year in, they asked us to enroll in training. I was skeptical about the opportunity as to me, the entire operation seemed nothing more than a sheer formality,” recollects M. “However, the course turned out to be very hands-on: we worked on a case after a case. Tools and solutions I discovered back then still apply today.”
M. says that probably “the most useful item in [her] toolbox” is quality control and inspection. The woman reasons that businesses have always been result-oriented, but these days, for a positive outcome, a company needs to strike a balance between increased revenue and customer satisfaction. This is especially true for logistics and supply chain management: M. admits that customers’ expectations are different from what they used to be even ten years ago.
Quality control and inspection allow the company for which she is working to not only trigger short spikes of interest but also build a long-term relationship with clients. “We used to do surveys, but with time, we realized that people rarely have time for filling in all these forms. Now we’re trying to look at hard data: customer loyalty, complaints, and even our website’s bounce rate. If someone leaves a page three seconds after they opened it, something must have rubbed them the wrong way.”
M. cannot stress enough the importance of production scheduling and deems it one of the critical operation management tools in her practice. Scheduling aims at controlling and optimizing work processes so that a product or a service comes out on time. In a broader sense, this strategy means making sure that a company meets designated deadlines. “I know it sounds trite but time is money,” says M. “My team manages an e-commerce platform, and we need to make an effort and introduce new functions before or at least at the same time with our direct contenders.
Our latest scheduled service was one-click buying after the research that revealed clients’ dissatisfaction with long forms. As for other deadlines, it is critical to set revenue goals, which entails profit maximization and expected sales calculation techniques.”
Equipment Maintenance Policies
“Sometimes I wonder how I manage to keep so many things in mind at the same time,” wonders M. After a moment, she adds laughing, “I guess being a mother of two taught me multitasking. It’s not prerequisite for what I’m doing in the workplace, but it sure helps.” Equipment maintenance is an operation management strategy and a skill to acquire which, a person needs to be able to predict outcomes and be familiar with the technical side of their company’s activities. For this, he or she needs to collaborate closely with technicians and know-how and when to assess, adjust, and replace equipment, outsourcing tasks when necessary.
“We depend heavily on hardware and software. Moreover, we have at least 150 employees in our staff, and even the most motivated of them won’t work as hard if, say, air conditioning fails unexpectedly, or a cooler runs out of water.
Can you imagine what one day without electricity or one server shutdown can do to our sales?” asks M. “Equipment maintenance is often the hardest thing to learn. As a manager, I’m good at handling urgent problems: check this paper, call that person. Equipment can function just right for years and then break down in one day. Continuous assessment and complying with maintenance guidelines are so often dismissed, and yet, not caring enough costs money. If I were to describe the perfect operation management mindset, it would be “I care.”
Operation management encompasses planning, organizing, and supervising production or service provision. The present paper provided the highlights of an interview with M., a 35-year-old woman who works for an e-commerce shipping company. M. admits that operation management has become an indispensable part of logistics and supply chain management. If earlier, the concept was rather something businesses like to toy with, nowadays, the theoretical framework offers enough tools to implement and enhance efficiency and performance. M. reports that she genuinely enjoys her role as a mediator between the company’s department.
The need to alternate between vastly different tasks gives her a sense of accomplishment. In the interview, she mentioned three operation management tools that she uses in her daily practice: quality control and inspection, product scheduling, and equipment maintenance. Among her top priorities are punctuality, customer care, and planning. M. concludes that operation management requires personal involvement and dedication: it is nigh on impossible to multitask and keep one’s mind busy unless it is for a great cause.