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Introducing: Grant Evans

operations management course

Meet The man Behind operational models to mitigate the risk of wind loss for wind farms through an insurance vehicle. Grant Evans is a professional in operations management and operations management principles. He has distilled his practical working skills, and applied them to numerous operations projects for increased business value.

1. What is the highlight of your career?

a. Building a financial model to mitigate the risk of wind loss for wind farms through an insurance vehicle. South Africa has seen an exponential growth in new wind farms of late due to the power shortage crisis which the national power provider has been experiencing. In order to do this, the model needed to forecast the wind patterns in terms of speed and direction. The model also simulated equipment failure.

b. Building a forecasting model for a national call centre of short-term loans. The model seeks to predict the daily and hourly movements in the number and type of calls, in order to better deploy call centre staff to the various business units.

2. How is operations management different in start-ups vs well-established companies? 

In start-ups the emphasis is on the speed you can get from plan A to a plan that works (an adage from Running Lean). Gone are the days where we spend huge amounts of time and resources on designing the perfect business and then implementing to plan. In start-ups it’s about coming up with a problem to solve, swiftly taking the product to market, and then working out if you were on the money or not. It has a lot to do with talking to your clients and identifying what value means to them. This phase of a business sees the operations changing drastically and quickly to accommodate the change in product/customer fit.

With larger companies, the product is usually well-established so there is less emphasis on finding out what the client actually wants, and more on finding efficient ways of delivering your product. This phase sees fewer changes, but more focused internally. There is usually more investment here in time and motion studies, or forecasting model building, etc.

3. Any tips or advice for those starting their careers in operations management?

It requires a person who inherently is a problem-solving kind of person. I believe a desire to succeed is half the battle won, and then you upskill to become better at it. In operations management, you need to be interested in continuously identifying things that could be done better. You need to be logical, as most of the solutions require it. Lastly, don’t shy away from the mathematics. It is used in much of the application of operations management and is a powerful tool.

4. What book are you currently reading? Or what is your favourite thing to do to take a break from the everyday hustle?

I am a sad puppy. For fun, I work on my Forex trading robot. I only read books to study. Currently, I am studying Neural Networks for artificial intelligence application. I don’t read to experience an emotion I have felt before, but to gain knowledge I never had before. To really zone out I write music with my nephew.

5. And finally, what is the one thing you can tell us about yourself that we won’t find on your resume?

My psychologist assured me that was confidential…seriously, I don’t have any one thing that stands out. I am a member of Mensa. I like mountain biking and Tai Chi. My wife and family are what it is all for.

Grant is a serial entrepreneur and university lecturer. He specialises in Operations Research, Business Analytics, Statistics, Information Technology, and Finance. Outside of this, and when he is not studying towards his Doctorate in Business Gamification, he is also a professional musician as lead singer and bass player in a band.

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Operations management: the backbone of business efficiency

operations management for business efficiency

What is operations management?

Operations management is the backbone of business efficiency. The goal of any operations manager is to streamline business processes and to convert materials and labour into goods and services, to maximise the profit of an organisation.

Like many functions within a business, operations management doesn’t work in isolation. In fact, a critical function of operations management relates to the management of inventory through supply chain management.

It also handles various strategic issues, for example in the manufacturing industry the following things would need to be considered:

  1. * Determining the size of manufacturing plants and project management methods

  2. * Implementing the structure of information technology networks

  3. * Managing raw material acquisition and quality control

  4. * Maintenance policies

In other words, an operations manager needs to have his eye on every ball.

What challenges do operations managers face?

With work scope that stretches across multiple functions within an organisation, it’s understandable that the role of an operations manager can be a stressful one.

Here we take a look at some of the most common challenges facing operations managers today:

Diversifying consumer markets

New developments in communication advancements, transportation and technology have led to a reduction in trading barriers across nations. Or as the dictionary would define it, globalisation.

Globalisation means that not only are operations managers facing competition from local markets but from across the pond too. Tishta Bachoo, Accounting Professor at Curtin University in Australia, explains that companies who compete with others abroad will have to improve quality while lowering prices to remain competitive. He goes on to say that this falls on the shoulders of operation managers as they “engage in the four functions of planning, organizing, leading, and controlling to ensure that the product or service remains competitive in the market.”

To err is human

Too often complications arise from employees’ errors, that can come at a high cost to an organisation. A good operations manager will be prepared for this; installing a technological safety net. Performance support programs can help your business, you can automate certain processes and therefore eliminate common mistakes.

These days technology can alleviate common pitfalls and help you focus your human resource on more focal points, using them more efficiently.

Effective Communication

Ensuring consistent and effective communication is a vital skill and can be a difficult task for anyone in a managerial position within an organisation. This is especially true for operations managers, as they need to communicate effectively with both internal and external stakeholders. This means that they need to be able to efficiently articulate their message to those on the floor, as well as process messages being directed to them at board level.

This skill is, therefore, vital to building employee morale and deepening trust with management. An operations manager needs to have a firm grip on oral, written, and nonverbal communication to ensure that day-to-day operations run smoothly.

Operations Management advice:

Operations management requires a person who inherently is a problem-solving kind of person. In Operations management you need to be interested in continuously identifying things that could be done better. You need to be interested in logic as most of the solutions require it. Lastly, don’t shy away from the mathematics. It is used in much of the application of operations management and is a powerful tool.