Every company that operates to produce, manufacture and deliver products and services requires a sound operations management system. Every organization has their own operating system that is responsible for the production and manufacturing of their products to be delivered to their customers. Operations management has become an important area in the study of management which embark to oversee, design and control the production process of a company’s goods and services. The success of the operations management plays a crucial role in making an organization to become globally competitive but the process involves a complex system that hurdles significant challenges to an operations manager. This author is more particularly interested on these challenges that confront an operations manager. This research paper therefore will provide insightful discussions about the common challenges in operations management that an operations manager often encounter and to provide some suggestions on how an operations manager could manage these difficulties in order to make an organization more competitive globally with better competence in addressing the demands of their consumers in the global market.
Operations management is a field of management study that involves the design, operation and improvement of the internal and external systems of an organization, including the resources and technologies that create and deliver the company’s primary products and services (Lowson, 2002). What makes operation management highly peculiar in any organization is that it brings a more organized and systematic operation within a company in order to attain its productivity goal. What makes this area of the management field highly challenging is the fact that operations management involves a strategic approach that should complement any organization’s business plan that views the projection of demand on the product or service from the consumer views. Many scholars find the operations management as a new discipline that is closely associated in the proper production of consumer goods. In another sense, the operation management is regarded as an important aspect of any company's operations that will help all its members understand their vital role and that of others to make a successful operational endeavor for the organization and to make the organization highly globally competitive as well.
Because operation management can become a complex process that involves various operational areas of a business, what interests the most to the author is how an operational manager is able to perform his duties and responsibilities to ensure that he delivers an efficient result that will address the demands and supply in the products and services of a business. Barnes (2008) pointed out that operations managers are under the pressure in learning how to harmonize management operations in the international level or in the global perspectives using a standardized system and coordination control. There are three major areas of operational performance that an operations manager needs to consider according to Galloway, Rowbotham and Azhashemi (2000) namely the needs of the organization’s customers, the influence of the company’s competitors, and the stages of the firm’s product and service life cycle. As an operations manager, there are important decision making areas that are considered which are critical to the efficient productivity and operational performance of the organization. Among the structural areas that demand for decision making include the facility strategy where the operation manager needs to allocate the activities needed for the production of products, including the number of sites and the location where the facilities should be positioned. The operations manager also needs to consider the technologies available for the company and how to use its resources in terms of the machineries available that will facilitate the production speed, costs, quality and delivery process. Updating the products and services of the company is also crucial and the operations manager has to implement a process strategy that would help re-design the production and the delivery system of the organization in order to meet the growing demands for change from their products and how the company may utilize its operation’s resources to the maximum in order to deliver a globally competitive service. Other areas of decision making process involved in operations management include the capacity strategy that will help the company to adapt to the changes in the international market demands according to the current operational capacity of the organization; developing a strategic approach to maintain a good business relations with the suppliers and the implementation of a good management program that will monitor the suppliers’ performance; and implementing an integration approach by assessing the company’s current ability to carry out its operation and to gauge what should be done more by acquiring external sources in order to meet the needs of their growing numbers of customers.
It is worth pointing out that the objectives of operations management usually devolve around customer service and resource utilization of an organization (Kumar, 2006). The key areas that every operations manager should focus in order to deliver a satisfying customer service involves the manufacturing, transportation, supply and service of the company products. Thus it is the duty of the operations manager that they manufacture products that are within their customer’s specifications, provide a timely delivery of orders with sufficient supplies to meet the demands in terms of the quantity of the customer orders and the quality of service that will satisfy the customer. The proper allocation of company resources is another area of focus of an operations manager whose objective should be able to maximize the utilization of the available resources to the most cost effective means possible, minimizing the losses, and organizing for activities in every facility available in order to produce products in a timely manner at the shortest delivery time possible.
Considering the complexities and broader scope of the role and responsibilities of an operations manager, it would be impossible to hurdle all the challenges that are associated with his job responsibilities. Management support is one of the critical success factors in the operations management field. Senior management support must provide adequate support in terms of the allocation for funding and resources in order to help enhance the various operational areas of the company. Moreover, the service operations management should be allowed to exercise the initiative of holding seminars for the other middle managerial officers in order to improve their competence in handling the various demands in the different areas of operation management services. Providing service management training can go a long way in improving the competence of an operations manager in learning the most effective operations management strategies that he can integrate in the business plan of the organization. Hiring and retention of skilled staff and employees are also important aspects of strengthening the workforce involved in carrying out the unique and distinct responsibilities involved in the various areas of the company operations.
Operations managers should be able to focus their management efforts on the primary areas in operations management such as the implementation of strong operational strategy, supply chain management, product technology, allocation of resources, improved operational processes, and the building of a workforce that is skilled to carry out the demands of work required of them to deliver the company products and services according to the satisfaction of the customers (Bettley, Mayle, and Tantoush, 2005). Operations managers can also carry out an advanced capacity planning where they could study the demand patterns for their products and services in order to develop the organization’s capacity to meet such demands in the future. Strategic planning is crucial in operations management, especially when one aims to become globally competitive in their business. Strategic planning involves the evaluation of the organizational goals and the environmental conditions that will become a foundation of knowledge that will help in future operations management decisions.
Operations management plays an important pillar that influences the capacity of a company to be globally competitive. Thus, an operational manager should be able to exercise a sound operational management decision making that will be knowledge based according to the current condition of the company, its current workforce, machineries and resources and to connect it to future decision making that will influence the capacity of the company to become competitive in the global market as well. Strategic planning is an important approach in operations management as well as an understanding the company goals and capacity to meet the demands of the its consumers in terms of its products and service delivery as well as having control on all the resources available and how to make maximize them to make the company operations productive and able to meet the demands of a highly competitive global market.
Barnes, D. (2008). Operations Management: An International Perspective. London: Thomson Learning.
Bettley, A., Mayle, D. and Tantoush, T. (2005). Operations Management: A Strategic Approach. London: Sage Publications.
Galloway, L., Rowbotham, F., and Azhashemi, M. (2000). Operations Management in Context. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
Kumar, S.A. (2006). Productions and Operations Management. New Delhi: New Age International, Ltd.
Lowson, R.H. (2002). Strategic Operations Management: The New Competitive Advantage. New York: Routledge.