What is Operation Management and Why it is Important to have Good Operation
The Operation department in an organisation is the department responsible for creating the goods and services of the company. In a Food Catering company, the Operation covers from the central kitchen activities to the food delivery management. Operation Management is about managing resources such as materials, machines, technology, and people, and the quality of products and services must meet the customers’ expectations and higher than competitors’ for a business to stay competitive. The whole chain of operation processes is crucial to a company’s success.
The role of the Operation Manager includes the following
- Planning: constantly forecast, plan, adjust and optimize resources
- Process: ensure that processes are efficient and followed
- Cost Control: achieve lean operation to increase company’s profitability
- Quality: set performance targets, measure, monitor and take corrective actions
- Technology: leverage on technology to achieve innovation and continuous improvements.
In this digital age, Operation Managers face the following challenges:
- Keeping up with the pace of technology innovation –With the “Internet of Things”, the interconnection of devices and applications have great potential to drive efficiency. Having single dashboard to monitor, for example, food delivery in a food business can greatly enhance customer experience. Companies that can leverage and implement emerging technologies can achieve lower cost, higher efficiency and better customer services and hence increate their competitiveness. However, to do that requires capital investment as well as getting existing employees to acquire new skills.
- Hiring and retaining the right people – This has always been the problem in the history of Operation Management. Staff in Operation are highly sought after by competitors. Yet, staffing determines Operation success. A mixture of new employees combined with seasoned experts allows Operation to maintain stability while training staff. In this digital age, there are a lot more data to manage in Operation. The ability to understand and react to internal data will dictate Operational success. Yet, many companies have existing employees resisting change. Some older employees, for fear of being replaced, may seek less technical jobs in other industries. The loss of experienced staff can mean loss of valuable skills and knowledge for the company.
Tips for Good Operations Management
- Keep Current on Innovation and implement technology that is simple to use – The Internet of Things, mobile devices, applications, communication and collaboration tools, robotics, RFID can help to automate warehousing and manufacturing processes. Many of these softwares have moved to cloud solutions offering a subscription base pricing. This make it very cost effective for small and medium enterprises. Companies continously explore new tools and leverage on them.
- Invest in educating and rewarding managers and employees to learn new technology – Training and having some form of rewards to motivate employees to embrace new technology will help to speed up a company’s digital transformation process.
- Implement Office Collaboration tools to enhance communication – Collaboration tools allow for easy tracing, document sharing and instantaneous communication. In Operation that involves changing of shifts and handling over of outstanding issues, Office Collaboration can help increase efficieny and enhance communicaiton.
- Use dashboards, data and analytics to get instant notifications of issues for preventive and fault management- The use of data and analytics allows potential issues to be flagged out even before the problem take place. This is especially important in Operation Management. With the availability of Business Intelligence tools such Microsoft Power BI, even small and medium companies can implement management dashboard with very low subscription. Companies should therefore leverage on such tools to stay competitive.
- Commit to help Staff Adapt – Companies must recognise that it is the staff who make digital transformation succeed. If they can embrace change, the digital transformation will be successful. Hence, it is important that staff feel that the company are not replacing them with the technology but is committed to help existing staff learn and stay relevant.