Operations management refers to the activities, decisions and responsibilities of managing the resources which are dedicated to the production and delivery of products and services.
The part of an organisation that is responsible for this activity is called the operations function and every organisation has one as delivery of a product and/or service is the reason for existence.
Operations managers are the people who are responsible for overseeing and managing the resources that make up the operations function. The operations function is also responsible for fulfilling customer requests through the production and delivery of products and services.
Depending on the type of industry or business, other titles can be used interchangeably, such as a ‘fleet manager’ in a distribution company or a ‘store manager’ in retail businesses.
Although the operations function is central to any organisation, it is only one of the three main core functions, the others being marketing and finance. The marketing function is responsible for communicating the organisation’s products and services to its markets and researching customer wants and needs. The finance function is responsible for providing information to assist in economic decision making and the overall management of financial resources.
There are also other functions which are not core to an organisation; however, their contribution is crucial to the smooth running of any organisation. Commonly known as support functions, they include accounting, information systems, human resources and engineering.
Often, there is no clear division between the various functions and one of the biggest difficulties faced by management is the ability to work effectively with other parts of the organisation. It is critical to the success of your business that functional boundaries do not interfere with efficient internal processes.
Being a small business owner, you may feel as though operations management does not apply to your business. However, this is far from the truth and in reality, the concepts and principles behind operations management is applicable to all businesses. The only difference is that you may have to take on several roles as many smaller organisations simply don’t have the resources to dedicate individuals to specialized roles.