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Operational planning and Strategic management

strategic management

In business management there are two very distinct management processes to follow to keep the business running efficiently. Follow us as we take a look at the differences between the role of a strategic manager and the functions of operations management.

Strategy versus implementation processes

The role of a strategic manager is difficult to pinpoint. A strategic manager in a business needs to implement a strategic management process which affords the organisation with a vision that ultimately informs the functions of operations management.

So, strategic management is concerned with analysing a long term plan with a specific vision. The role of a strategic manager is to work closely with the company and help them reach their long-term goals. It’s important to note that the role of the strategic manager analyses the market, accounts for trends and plans for potential threats or risks. The strategic manager will then implement the company’s vision through the functions of operations management.  

The role of a strategic manager is holistic while operations management is practical

The role of a strategic manager in a business environment utilises analytical, synthetic and rational decision making processes to create a company vision. They combine these qualities with innovative thinking that focuses out of the conventional box to create long-term company goals. This makes the strategic management process holistic as it focuses on the company from an aerial perspective.

The importance of operations management should however, never be overlooked. Without operations management, strategic management would fail. The functions of operations management work hand in hand with strategic management. Operation managers implement the company’s vision on the ground. They ensure that all processes are optimised for efficiency. They handle staff and company objectives, ensuring company policies are upheld at all times. Operation manager skills are essential as they are the practical tools that keep the company flowing daily.

How do these two types of management affect businesses?

The role of a strategic manager is chiefly concerned with establishing a businesses target market, and how it will go about competing and capturing value in each segment of that market. Therefore the strategic management process can be summed up as an analytical business plan.

The functions of operations management is more practical and hands on. An operation managers skills are implemented to physically run the business daily. Operations managers work with the company’s resources and maintain company policies to achieve goals and keep the company on track.

Online participant, Joris Goudriaan: construction project manager

A day in the life of-human-resource-management-online-course

USB-ED project management online short course testimonial.

Joris Goudriaan has seen the world with open eyes from a very young age. Growing up in Italy and thereafter leaving for Belgium at the tender age of 14, Joris has an array of experience in Operations Management. After he finished University in Brussels, Joris started one of the first Web design companies in Belgium, in 1992.

In 1996, he joined a Belgian subsidiary of a U.K company that developed and implemented ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems for the fresh produce industry. He has experience with tracking and tracing, logistics as well as company financials.

Joris has been actively involved in all areas of business, “from grower to pack house to harbour by ship to EU warehouse to wholesaler to store”.

Joris moved to South Africa in 2000 and started a local subsidiary for the same company. After the U.K went through the global financial crisis, He decided to stay in South Africa and ended up creating smart programming for apps and open source software algorithms.

Joris adds “I joined a transport brokering company specialising in the logistic service provision to the oil rig repair industry in Cape Town. I left the company when it was merged with a larger transport company. Since then I have been a project manager in the construction industry”.

Joris enrolled in the MasterStart Project Management online short course because: “I wanted to have a well-rounded understanding of Project Management and to fill the gaps in my understanding of Project Management theory”.

The wise man belongs to all countries, for the home of a great soul is the whole world. – Democritus.

Joris is truly a world voyager and has had vast experience in many aspects of various types of businesses. So we asked him to highlight the benefits of studying online, from his personal experience with MasterStart and USB-ED. “The main benefit was the ability to create my own time management schedule, secondly, the ability to do it online instead of at a particular faculty, is the saving in travel time and travel frustration with the increasing traffic congestion around the Cape”.

Joris learnt that even though he has a wealth of experience and knowledge, that he is still a young, hungry student at heart. He continued on to say that he is striving for a a very specific goal after this online short course from MasterStart and USB-ED. Joris wants to obtain a PHD in Project Management at the University of Stellenbosch next year.

This was his first online learning experience and as mentioned before; it was this online course from MasterStart that has inspired him to take the next step towards career growth and success. Joris is going to enrol in USB next year to obtain his formal Project Management qualification.

project management certificate from stellenbosch university

Advice for successful project managers

successful project managers

Successful project managers know how to be a jack of all trades, all the time. You need to develop strong business acumen, outstanding leadership/mentorship skills and a level head that can plan, control, execute and mitigate risk all at the same time, on a daily basis. If you are just starting out as a project management professional, these essential tips on successful project management will help you get the ball rolling for a fundamental grasp of project management basics.

Tip 1: Successful project mangers learn to Observe their surroundings

As a project manager you are going to be running a team and they are going to be constantly looking to you for guidance and mentorship. Soak up your surroundings and analyse your team members, learn their strengths and weaknesses and apply each member to tasks accordingly. Successful project managers listen to what their team has to say and implements their suggestions accordingly. This will show cohesion and willingness for an adaptable project management style.

Tip 2: Work Smart and Solve Problems

Successful project managers are apart of the solution rather than the problem. Planning is the biggest factor that allows project management professionals to mitigate risk. If you do your fair share of planning before the initial project phases, then you will be able to solve problems much more efficiently and mitigate potential threats.

Tip 3: Utilise Tools Effectively

Whether you’re a traditional pen and paper enthusiast or if you make use of project management software, as a project manager you need to know your working tools extensively. Online project management software brings team members together. Successful project managers stay a step ahead and look to optimise working platforms in any way possible, to make the project run more efficiently. Keep taking notes on what works and what doesn’t and stay on track of the projects goals.

Tip 4: The Customer is King

Your customers may be individuals or organisations as a project manager. You need to learn what your customers want and how to give it to them. Successful project managers listen to their customers needs and adapt the project management strategy around their wants. Once you learn to satisfy the needs of your customer while performing the project management steps you will grow rapidly within the industry.

Tip 5: Successful project managers get educated

There are a variety of options available for a project management qualification, especially in today’s digital age.  You can study a project management degree, opt for a project management online course or even a project management short course certificate. Your qualification or furthering your studies will show your employer that you are committed to a successful project mangers mindset. Pursue your qualification with passion and you may soon find yourself a member of the Project Management Institute of South Africa (PMISA).

Top tips for diversifying yourself in today’s business climate

staying relevant in todays work environment

South Africans have a long history of overcoming adversity. Our people have defied innumerable odds; growing a republic of talented forward thinkers. A survey conducted by MasterStart found that one of the best ways to stay relevant in the workplace is to constantly upskill yourself and your employees, through lifelong learning.

It is far more difficult to attain and maintain a job, as opposed to ten years ago.

As per our recent survey, there is no denying it, the current business climate has changed. For better, or worse, if you don’t jump on board, you are going to get left behind. Therefore, making you redundant in a world that is solely focused on interlinked technological and human progress.

New innovative trends, products, business practices and enhanced programs are infiltrating organisations on every level. As a result, you need to stay relevant in order to stay ahead of the curve, which is slowly swinging like a pendulum and could make many jobs redundant. You may have even noticed this in your own organisation where operational requirements may force individuals to take on more duties. Follow us as we take a look into the future prospects of the workplace, by providing you with top tips for staying relevant in today’s business climate.

Lifelong learning is imperative to staying relevant

Many ordinary working class South Africans fear the unknown and don’t believe that they are capable of staying relevant. You can’t reject change anymore, as it has become a functioning dynamic within the current working environment.

On the bright side, you can make sure you stay relevant and remain in control of your future. Everyone should strive to stay relevant in his or her chosen field via upskilling. It means the difference between advancing your career, remaining stagnant or even the loss of your job. There are many ways you can keep your skills relevant.

So constantly reading and keeping up to date with industry standards you ensure your currency. Technological advances like the internet have made learning accessible and achievable. Our online offerings offer a diverse range of courses, which allow you to continuously upskill yourself.

Analyse changes constantly to remain aware

A vital part of staying relevant means that you have to constantly be aware of imminent changes that can occur at any time. Practice the art of paying attention to the atmosphere of your industry, and know what areas will be the most likely to change.

By keeping up with workplace changes, you will be able to identify potential changes and mitigate any impact that these changes could have on your career. Keep looking out for these changes and you will remain more secure in your current job..

Empower yourself and enrich your knowledge

Your employer is not going to wait for you to catch up. That is why it is imperative to learn as much as you can, as often as you can. Upskill yourself constantly and ask your employer to invest in your future. Most organisations have a solid infrastructure in place that aids employees in furthering their education.

Nobody ever said lifelong learning was easy

Workplace dynamics have shifted in the last ten years, but there is hope on the horizon. Lifelong learning is bridging the gap between required skills and effective implementation of those skills on the job, almost immediately. MasterStart’s online short course offerings are designed and tailored around participants needs. We understand that everyone is unique, with various schedules. That is the beauty of our online short courses. Participants can learn anywhere and at any time, simply access the online campus and start seeing results instantaneously.

South Africans are concerned about their working futures

south africans are concerned about job security and employability

The economic and political situation in South Africa has all of her citizens concerned about their job security, especially in the years to come. A research report conducted by MasterStart reveals that a mere 23.8% of working South Africans believe that their current skills will keep them employed in ten years time. One undeniable fact about all South Africans is that we are resourceful, intuitive and most of all survivors. It’s exciting to see that our people are taking initiative, and finding new ways for staying relevant in a world where change occurs almost daily.

Adapt with technology

Technological advancements including artificial intelligence and robotic process automation have the majority of South Africans looking for a way to future-proof their careers. In a survey of over one-thousand people, the MasterStart workforce barometer uncovered a very real statistic. That was 95% of people agreed lifelong learning is the key to retaining relevancy in their chosen field.

A word from the CEO

Andrew Johnston, Former CEO of MasterStart says, “Our workforce is clearly concerned, but positively, our research revealed that people are aware that frequent upskilling and reskilling will aid them in remaining relevant and employable. Especially in a country where unemployment is an ongoing issue, it’s imperative that we empower people to future-proof their careers by making lifelong learning opportunities continuously accessible.”

The Raw Reality

Did you know that it is estimated that artificial intelligence could boost global Gross Domestic Profit by as much as $15-trillion by the year 2030? That’s a whopping injection into the world economy. Aim to be a part of this dynamic movement, with technology that helps make our lives and jobs easier, it is still imperative that we keep ahead of the curve, in order to stay relevant.

Today is the biggest challenge

It’s really tough out there; 80% of people surveyed believe that it is far more difficult to find employment, as opposed to ten years ago.

Factors to consider today

In today’s day and age, there are numerous aspects to consider in the South African workforce. If we zoom into it; macro and micro factors seem to be at the core of the current employment situation in South Africa.

The most talked about and obvious being the political and economic climate of the country. Increased competition, where even online businesses are starting to become over saturated making it difficult to stand out. Fewer employment opportunities and rapid change have also been noted as a hindrance to growth and development within the job market.

IT and technology jobs are seen as the most secure

It’s actually quite ironic that IT and technology-related jobs are viewed as the most secure amongst South Africans since these very industries are responsible for decreasing the demand for human engagement in the workplace. Our survey noted that 30% of IT and tech employees felt supremely confident in their skills and relevance moving forward into the future, or at the very least for the next ten years.

Don’t let age hinder your career prospects

Many of the survey participants claimed that their age and lack of skills were their biggest barriers to gaining meaningful employment, especially for people over the age of fifty. It is interesting to note that people from twenty-four up to the age of thirty-four listed a lack of skills as the most prohibiting factor in securing employment.

Recognise, Retain and Nurture Talent

Large companies need to take the lead. Corporations can help by becoming apart of the solution. By investing in their staffs’ education, they are able to upskill their employees to help them stay relevant in a world that is constantly changing and adapting to technological needs. The reality is not all managers are equipped to deal with people on a human level.

If you recognise this, it could be beneficial for your business to upskill managers on people skills. A short course in human resource management from MasterStart may just be the answer you have been looking for. Likewise, there are various courses on offer for any employee wishing to stay relevant in the modern age. The key to staying relevant and a cut above the rest is lifelong learning. This short-course will help you stay at the top of your chosen field, now, and far into the future.


It’s Not All Doom and Gloom

Even with the glum statistics and the current recession South Africa has slipped into, rest assured there is still hope on the horizon. Its uplifting to see that 80% of survey respondents were planning to study further in the future. Studying further allows you to not only enrich yourself but enrich your company. The majority of companies love employees who take the initiative to study further and enhance their skill set.

Look to study online

Studying online courses can help you receive that promotion that you have been yearning for, followed by a hefty salary increase. You owe it to yourself to stay relevant, which will ultimately result in a more diverse set of skills making you less irreplaceable, higher motivation levels and improved communication skills, which allow you to form long and lasting relationships with your company.

Johnston concludes, “Given the competitiveness of the market – which will only increase with the rise of automation – having a sought-after skillset is the best way to guarantee ongoing job retention.  This means using online learning tools to get to grips with AI and RPA in order to build on efficiency and one’s overall value-add in a business.”

Read the top 10 key findings from the survey here: MasterStart Workforce Barometer Report 2018.


MasterStart South African workforce barometer

How are South Africans feeling about the work environment

How are South Africans feeling about the work environment?

What is the mood among South Africa’s workforce? How do we feel about the longevity of our careers? Do we feel equipped to evolve our skills and stay relevant? Is political and economic uncertainty taking its toll? Are we concerned that artificial intelligence may replace us? Follow us as we decode these interesting south African workforce statistics.

We commissioned research house imagineNATION Alliance to survey a diverse sample of over 1000 people to find out how South Africans are feeling about their employment prospectives.

The survey found that the overriding sentiment amongst our workforce is one of worry. Most respondents believed the job environment was tougher now (July 2018) than 10 years ago. The pace of change has changed. And our workforce is worried it won’t keep up. The findings reveal a workforce that’s looking for ways to future-proof itself. With Industry 4.0 a global hot topic, South Africa’s workforce is highly aware of artificial intelligence but doesn’t currently count it as the biggest threat to job retention.

Read the top 10 key findings from the survey here: MasterStart Workforce Barometer Report 2018.

The importance of lifelong learning

life long learning

They say ‘knowledge is power’, but what does this mean? Well progress, whether it be in life, in self, in one’s career, or in any other sphere of one’s existence, begins with education. If one does not know better, he cannot do better. Therefore, the man who knows more will forever be ahead of the man who has seized to invest in continuous learning.

Learning is certainly a prerequisite for growth and the catalyst for positive change, which is why we should never stop but instead see it as a lifelong journey.

It’s also important to note that learning is not confined to formal mediums of education such as university courses or short courses, for example. It also extends across informal mediums which offer valuable information that can assist you in various aspects of your life or career. These mediums include informative newsletters written by reputable sources; articles covering tips offered by industry experts or newspaper and brochure inserts, to name a few.

Here are just a few of the benefits of consistently nurturing your potential through investing in lifelong learning:

1. Become a leader in your field and stay ahead of the competition

Through making the choice to consistently brush up your knowledge of your particular industry, you’ll certainly find yourself in the pound seat – no pun intended. Keeping ahead of industry advancements, understanding new techniques; the modern day threats and the general movements within your field, will afford you the ability to make sound decisions within your role. Those who fail to enhance their skills and their knowledge will quickly find themselves falling behind – especially in a world where one’s value in the workplace is often measured by how much they know, how current their skills are, and whether or not they are able to adjust and remain versatile in the modern business environment.

2. Boost your earnings

Making learning a lifelong commitment will give you leverage over your competition, giving you a better chance of swiftly scaling the corporate ladder – or finding success as a business owner. As previously mentioned, those who know better, can do better. Those who are well-learned are able to make better decisions, are able to successfully implement modern strategies and techniques; and offer fresh new ideas based on their newly acquired knowledge and expertise; thus they are more likely of making a success of their endeavours. Employers seek out individuals who show competence in various areas within their role, and will invest in individuals who are likely to drive the business forward.

3. Build your self-confidence

Self-confidence is one of the main ingredients for success. Those who aren’t confident in their abilities usually end up self-sabotaging without even realising it. Unfortunately, this is usually because of an internal knowing that they could be better, and that there are likely many others that are ahead of them in terms of skill and education. Improving your expertise and skills will give you the self-confidence you need to progress through life, as well as in your career; as you won’t feel threatened by others, but rather feel confident in what you have to offer.

4. Make better decisions in the workplace

It’s a no-brainer that through gaining a better understanding of the intricacies that come with performing your role you’ll be able to make better decisions. This is exactly why they say knowledge is power. It gives you the tools you need to make decisions that are in the best interest of your objective.

5. Become a well-respected individual/employee

People look up to those who can teach them something – those who are skillful, smart and competent. This is partly due to the person’s charismatic confidence in their abilities, but also largely due to the fact that they’re inspiring pioneers.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to make the choice to invest in your abilities and nurture your potential. It’s always the right time to make transformational decisions, but since it’s spring; the month of renewal, rebirth and growth, why not make the choice today?

The benefits of lifelong learning

lifelong learning

Throughout life, we are taught the importance of improvement. From a young age, we would hear our teachers, coaches or parents saying ‘there’s room for improvement’, especially when we lost a match or scored an average mark in a test. Yet, even when we excelled, our superiors would remind us that to stay at the top we needed to continuously invest in our efforts. We can do this through lifelong learning.

This notion does not change when we reach adulthood; if anything, it becomes more significant. As working professionals, we are faced with a lot more competition than back then when we were competing for the school trophy. Now, we are competing against millions of competent, skilful individuals, who are just as deserving as us, to be selected for the ‘dream job’. That’s why to stand out from the crowd we need to be extraordinary.

How to become extraordinary

Today, employers are looking for people who not only come with the relevant qualifications and experience; but whose skills are up-to-date, and are aligned to the present day state of the industry. Organisations are constantly looking for ways to improve productivity and increase profitability, and individuals who are at the forefront of industry advancements are more likely to achieve this objective for them.

To be extraordinary, you need to commit to lifelong learning. Continuously developing your professional skills and expertise will ensure you stay relevant and attractive to organisations – even the one you currently work for. AT&T CEO and Chair, Randall Stephenson recently told the New York Times, “There is a need to retool yourself, and you should not expect to stop. People who do not spend five to ten hours a week learning will obsolete themselves with technology.”

The working world is a cut-throat, competitive environment; where one’s value is continuously questioned. Companies have limited financial resources and plenty of goals and objectives that need to be met. Individuals who lack knowledge of modern tools and techniques, and struggle to display essential technical know-how are not seen as valuable resources. This means individuals who have more to offer are the ones that’ll be hired; the ones that’ll be kept, and the ones that’ll be promoted.

Lifelong learning: an ‘ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated’ pursuit of knowledge.

Three ways you can stay on top of your game:

  1. – Invest in an industry-aligned short course:

    Many well-known universities offer short courses – some even online. Short courses add immense value to one’s CV, and of course ones skill-set. This is because they’re usually created based on the current industry practices, and the content is updated on a regular basis. Short courses are a great way to stay abreast of industry developments and prove that you’re a lifelong learner.

  2. – Attend skill-building workshops and seminars:

    Workshops and seminars are a great way to stay informed of your industries advancements, or updated regulatory requirements. These gatherings can also help you to improve your soft skills, as well as strengthen your network in the field in which you practice.

  3. – Invest in informational content

    Although reading and conducting research on your industry is a great way to stay ahead, it still doesn’t prove that you have invested in your career potential, and strengthening your skills. However, it will enable you to refine your immediate knowledge of the industry, and the general developments taking place currently.

Benefits of lifelong learning

Other than improving your skills and investing in yourself, lifelong learning has the potential to boost your career. The benefits of lifelong learning include:

1. An increased chance of landing a well-paying job
2. Heightened security within your current role (avoid retrenchment)
3. An increased chance of being granted a promotion
4. Broadening your network in your respective industry
5. Being seen as a valuable employee within the organisation, and the industry as a whole

“The day you stop learning is the day you stop living. We should all pick up new skills, ideas, viewpoints, and ways of working every day.”
– Richard Branson