Operations Management (OM) is the organizational function accountable for managing the resources needed for, and the process of, creating, planning, producing, and delivering goods and/or services. While OM involves managing people and processes, and is involved in business making decisions, it’s important to distinguish it from Business Management. Someone with a Master of Business Administration (MBA) can theoretically work in OM; however, an operations manager or someone who works in OM needs further training and understanding of managing policies, equipment, and technology that aren’t necessarily included in an MBA program. As such, Operations Management is a core function of both non-profit and for-profit organizations.
Defining the Role of an Operations Manager
“Ongoing disruption to the global supply chain and the growing need for business agility have put the spotlight squarely on operations managers. Companies are reexamining and rethinking their processes to improve efficiency so they can navigate constant change and put their business on solid footing. They’re leaning on operations managers to get it right” (Savage, 2022).
Effective operational managers understand that the decisions they make every day, whether they are strategic, tactical, or operational in nature, have an effect on those employees charged with carrying out those decisions. Ideally, the decisions are thoughtfully made and will have a significant impact on process improvement, operational activities, and overall business performance, so while an MBA can be helpful as an operations manager, it is also critical to understand OM specific techniques. An operations manager’s main responsibility to make strategic decisions that ensure everything runs smoothly, while keeping an eye on best practices for reviewing and optimizing procedures. Regardless of industry, all companies are motivated to reach their strategic goals and operations managers play a key role in that effort.
Operations managers must rely on their experience, industry and OM expertise, critical thinking skills, and business savvy to make effective decisions about how best to:
- design, plan, and manage processes and capacity design
- manage supply chain and logistics
- create and maintain healthy relationships with employees, customers, buyers, stakeholders, suppliers, and vendors
- manage inventory
- ensure consistent product or service quality
- coordinate teams from different business units to exchange ideas and problem-solve
- manage and mitigate diverse types of internal and external risk
- evaluate department budgets to minimize waste and maximize profit
- maintain product or service quality
- manage scheduling and maintenance
Operations Managers in Different Industries
Operations management is a career that can remain interesting because it intersects with every industry. Consider the following three examples.
- An operations manager in a manufacturing company is responsible for partnering with the plant leadership team to ensure all operations policies and procedures are both adhered to and improved upon to facilitate productivity, efficiency, quality and safety.
- An operations manager in a hospital neurology department is responsible for coordinating operations for all allied health staff in both inpatient and outpatient settings in alignment with institutional and department/division mission, vision, and objectives.
- An operations manger in a nonprofit organization is charged with implementing policies and procedures as well as making sure programs and services are being delivered effectively and efficiently to the communities they are serving.
There are endless possibilities for work as an Operations Manager. You will never be bored!
Skills Needed to Be A Successful Operations Manager
Planning, organizing, supervising, and spearheading coordinated operational activities in a way that supports an organization’s strategic goals are learned skills.
Researching, initiating, and consistently evaluating policies and procedures to achieve organizational goals is all within the purview of OM. The operations managers who are spearheading innovative initiatives and bring best practices to the areas of quality management, inventory control, delivery, supply chain, logistics, and information management, are what makes the difference between a marginally successful company and a company that dominates their share of the marketplace.
Effectively integrating operations across all functions of an organization takes a particular skill-set. Let’s take a closer look at the types of skills necessary for a successful career in operations management.
- Financial Management - Operations managers must know how to prepare and interpret sales projections, budgets, profit and loss statements, and balance sheets
- People and Organizational - Soft skills enable people to interact effectively and harmoniously with all levels of professionals. Prioritizing effective interpersonal communication, initiating positive conflict management, and motivating diverse teams are a small part of what effective operations managers do on a daily basis
- Technological and Information System - Operations managers who understand how to leverage technology in general and information systems in particular, are much more able to solve business problems, initiate improvements, and support management of complex technology projects
- Marketing Management - Some organizations are large enough to have a Marketing Operations Manager, in smaller organizations, operations managers must widen their circle of responsibilities and, in some cases, meet with advertising/branding executives and other creatives. At the very least, operations managers should understand basic marketing and advertising strategy
Career Outlook for Operations Managers
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 9.4 percent employment growth rate for business operations managers between 2020 and 2030, with and estimated 226,300 available jobs (US News, 2022). Also, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022), the following industries have the highest levels of employment in operations management:
- restaurants and other eating places with an annual mean wage of $64,680
- management, scientific, and technical consulting services with an annual mean wage of $145,400
- management of companies and enterprises with an annual mean wage of $159,230
- computer system design and related services with an annual mean wage of $146,950
- merchant wholesalers and durable goods, with an annual mean wage of $120,440
“The field of operations management is a growing one because the job functions performed by these business professionals are needed by every company. The duties performed by operations managers are diverse and often complex, and these high paying positions are usually given to business leaders who have extensive experience within a particular organization, industry or sector” (Great Value Colleges, 2022).
How Kettering University Online Prepares Graduates to Lead in Operations Management
Many working in operations management have experience but lack theoretical and practical knowledge about how to:
- maximize performance and workflow processes
- operationalize activities efficiently and effectively
- navigate complex global supply chains
- manage and mitigate risk
- integrate and improve operations across business units to meet corporate goals and satisfy customer need
KUO understands the various skill-sets necessary for success as an operations manager and offer courses in management science, enterprise information system models, managing people and organizations, strategy, and marketing, operations, and financial management.
Completing an online master’s degree in operations management is likely to change the way you think about the most challenging operational problems you and your colleagues face. Considering the competitive nature of business, the complex world of global supply chains, and the ever-present challenge to implement environmentally sound processes, it makes sense that now is the time to expand your knowledge base and hone your critical thinking skills. In addition to learning how to provide solutions that are efficient, reduce organizational risk, and improve the overall quality of procedures, products, and services, you also examine how to:
- use proven techniques to maximize production and/or service efficiency
- problem solve using the DMAIC ((Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control) methodology
- implement technological solutions to improve and innovate current operations
- initiate, plan, execute, control, and close projects
- manage change within an organization such as introducing or revising an information system
- implement quality control and improvement techniques
- manage supply chain components, including procurement, logistics, and transportations
The speed of business and the pace of developing technologies seem only to quicken. To continue being successful means to remain open and eager to learning new ways of innovating, strategizing, and competing. Learners who enroll in Kettering University Online’s MS Operations Management program have a distinct opportunity to further develop the expertise, strong leadership skills, and ability to link the people, performance, and workflow processes necessary to ensure optimal efficiency for an organization while catapulting their career.
Great Value Colleges (2022). Is operations management a growing field? https://www.greatvaluecolleges.net/faq/is-operations-management-a-growin...
Money U.S. News (2022). Business operations manager. https://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/business-operations-manager
Occupational employment and wage statistics, May 2021. (2022). U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes111021.htm#nat
Praxie. (2023). The top manufacturing and operations quotes. https://praxie.com/top-business-operations-manufacturing-quotes/
Savage, M (2022). What is operations management? Definition, types, examples. https://www.the-future-of-commerce.com/2022/05/02/what-is-operations-man...