Business operations is a broad term that is used to define all activities that are necessary for a company to operate profitably. Broadly speaking, most businesses can be divided into three broad categories. First, you have the sales/marketing department which is responsible for selling the product. Then you have the operations department which is responsible for creating the product and delivering it. Lastly, you have the support departments (like finance, HR, compliance, etc.) which help with these goals.
From that categorisation, business operations can mean a lot of different things to different companies. The role of the operations department is, therefore, to ensure that the primary business activity of the company is run efficiently. The operations manager oversees these activities in the operations department. The job description of the operations manager, therefore, depends on the type of company that they are employed in. Here are some examples of the various responsibilities that are entrusted to the operations manager.
Improving operational processes
Operations managers are likely to have a better understanding of the actual operations at the company than most others. Therefore, they can add a lot of value to the company by making improvements or enhancements in the operations department. Companies with a heavy focus on operations will usually spend a lot of money and resources in ensuring that their operations are running at maximum efficiency.
Operations managers also need to be well versed in the intricacies of operating in their specific industries. For example, an operations manager in financial services would need to be fully cognizant of the bank’s core banking systems, banking principles, governance policies, inherent operational risks and so on.
In order to manage the operations efficiently, the operations manager must liaise with scores of people across dozens of departments and possibly even in other companies. For example, an operations manager would have to liaise with the procurement manager for raw materials and supplies. Then the operations manager would have to liaise with the finance department for things like capital expenditure, machinery procurement, making sure the employers are well paid and so on. The operations team also must work closely with the sales department to meet and fulfill customer orders.
Finally, an operations manager would also have to interact with department heads and top management. Therefore, the number of skills that an operations manager needs to possess is large.
This is a very important role that an operations manager must perform as it directly has an impact on the physical and mental well-being of the employees. Although other departments like HR or operational risk management might play a role, the operations manager is still the first line of defence when it comes to worker safety. This becomes especially important in manufacturing companies where there are a lot of moving parts and heavy machinery.
Providing training and leadership
While large companies might have dedicated training programs, operations managers are still the ones who will have to take the rookies along as they get their feet wet. In the smaller and medium-sized companies, they might be expected to do the bulk of the heavy lifting when it comes to training. Providing training requires a great deal of patience and the ability to keep the trainee motivated.
Operations managers will also have to provide leadership to the employees working in their departments. The work environment can get stressful especially when the workload is high. A good operations manager will always be expected to keep the entire team motivated.
Incident management and troubleshooting
Although the operations department would be expected to work like a well-oiled machine, there always exceptions and longtail events that can impact operations. An experienced operations manager would be expected to deftly and smartly handle these exceptions and take care of any contingencies.
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