Operations managers are a thriving business’ secret weapon. They are the people working (mostly) quietly in the background – keeping the wheels oiled and the business running smoothly.
Come the end of the year, holidays, deadlines, and the chaos that comes with the festive season have a huge impact on small businesses, and that can spill over into the new year if they’re not managed efficiently. This is when the operations manager needs to step up their game to ensure nothing falls through the cracks.
Why operations management is so important
Small business owners often make the mistake of thinking they can ‘do it all themselves’. But if you look at the pillars of efficient operations management, you’d wonder where they find the time. In reality, they probably don’t.
Taking a broad view, an operations manager will oversee the processes involved in converting business inputs (raw materials, labour, and technologies) into outputs (goods and services delivered to customers to generate revenue). By managing the ‘back office’ activities, operations managers are essential to a business’s success.
Drilling down, they’re responsible for several key functions that all fall under the operations umbrella: project management, operations strategy, team leadership, human resources, financials, and data analysis. They ensure consistent production and service delivery and that resources are used efficiently, while waste is reduced by tightening up processes and procedures.
Together, these components give small businesses a competitive advantage, especially when there is a lot of competition in the market. It enables them to reach their business goals, mitigate risks, streamline business practices, and increase profitability.
End-of-year business pitfalls
Many factors could affect a small business at the end of the year, and an operations manager will have to juggle them all. Think of supply chain disruptions as businesses shut down for the festive season, inflation, labour shortages, and the knock-on effects of a shift in consumer spending. Operations managers can mitigate these risks by ensuring stock, people, and sales processes are in place to handle them, along with increased volumes of customers. This support to management and marketing will enable businesses to create and meet demand without dropping the ball.
Get ready for the new year
Considering the varied functions that fall under operations management, these are important ones for small businesses to prioritise as they wrap up the year and prepare for a fresh start:
- Review IT systems, security, and digital assets
- Renegotiate contracts with vendors and suppliers
- Check and service all machinery and equipment
- Evaluate staffing requirements, salaries, resignations, and new hires
- Assess insurance coverage
- Take stock of all inventory
- Ensure workplace safety procedures are adequate
- Reach out to new clients with automated marketing
Is Operations Management the right job for you?
You’re halfway there if you are a behind-the-scenes person who can multitask, solve problems, handle stress, and manage people and processes. Then, ask yourself:
- Do you want to analyse, reorganise or redesign business processes that drive operations management?
- Are you an employee who wants to have a bigger impact at work?
- Do you want to become a business operations management authority in your workplace?
Then operations management is an excellent career path for you! And, getting started isn’t far out of reach.
MasterStart is proud to offer the Operations Management Course in partnership with the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). In just eight weeks of studying online, you can learn all the tricks of the trade and acquire the skills to strengthen business processes. Visit the Operations Management course page to learn more.