On Operations, Management

“Where are you doing your internship?”

“It’s ‘XYZ’.”

“Cool! What specialisations are you opting for?”

“I’ll be concentrating on Operations and Finance.”

“So your job at ‘XYZ’ is mostly Finance? There’s not much for operations.”

“No. It’s mostly Marketing.”

“But why?”

Going with specialisation first, there is not one specialisation per se, at least in management, I believe. There are ares of concentration. It’s not specialisation as we don’t exactly specialise. Someone going for Finance, for example, would not be as knowledgeable as an chartered accountant or a financial analyst. But then they would not have as much grasp of other aspects of management, like marketing, etc. We are learning management and concentrating on one or two areas more than on others.

Now coming to these areas being discrete and separate, they are not. Management is a nexus where you cannot completely separate it into disjoint parts. Consider this – there’s a product and we are to manage its advertisement campaigns, which is a part of it’s promotion. It is marketing, right? Yes, but that’s not all it is. There are things such as, choosing the channels, making suitable ads, deciding on when and where to run the ads, partnering with channel partners, etc. But are we forgeting Finance? “how much is required”, “how much to propose”, “how much to allocate to each channel”, etc. are some of the questions. Are we forgeting HR? choosing an appropriate team, freelancing some of the work if necessary, payments to those employed in the project, managing teams, are some of the things that need to be taken care of. So you learn what you need to learn, you learn what you can learn; and always be ready to learn because things change and so does their management.

As for Operations Management, it is about optimisation. Let’s say you manufacture and sell something. How much would you manufacture in what period? How much cost can you incurr and what is the cost of raising investment beyond a point? What is the cost of delay? Would you increase or decrease you operating capacity? Would you outsource some parts or would you make changes to your labour force? These are just some of the questions. You take the constraints and come up with the optimal solution possible.

This has given rise to a notion that Operations is all about industriers or jobs like production or manufacturing or construction etc. Operation actually deals with the “How”. How something gets done.

You’ve made the products and are distributing to retailers now. Where should you put your warehouse? How many distribution channels do you have? What course should your vehicles take to distribute while minimising the overall cost of delay and fuel consumption.

You are in the service industry, say banking. Now when you are expanding into a new geological market. Where should the new branch or branches be located at? How many employees should each one have? How many machines should be put and where to automate certain tasks? Inside a branch, what should the relative position of the cubicles of the employees? Are there any redundant requirements for a customer to make a transaction? If so, how can it be removed? How can technology be used to make the trasactions more secure and less time consuming at the same time? And so on.

A change in the perception of Operations management is needed. It should not be restricted to industries like manufacturing or production or construction. Service industry is growing and a good framework of Operations Management itself can be the differentiating factor for a business.

Think about it. Customers are dissatisfied when they order something in a restaurant and after 10 minutes they are told that it’s out of stock for today. How about handing the employee with a digital menu that is updated with every new order placed and items taken and used from inventory? A good service matters in this industry. It is, after all, the service sector.

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