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Get Your Small Business Ready For The New Year

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.

Grow your value & upskill multiple employees effortlessly

upskill your employees

Africa is a young continent, packed with unlimited potential. MasterStart is a platform geared for all of Africa’s future leaders, to help them develop and grow dynamically within the workplace. Excellence begins with education, which is why we’re committed to nurturing you and your team’s potential through our premium online short courses.

MasterStart’s corporate offering is enhanced by a new dynamic skills development structure, centred around corporate learning. This new structure caters for organisations of varying sizes, affording you the opportunity to upskill many employees on a large scale effortlessly

MasterStart and USB-ED

MasterStart is the collaborative partner in online education of USB-ED (University of Stellenbosch Executive Development). Through this partnership, we support USB-ED in its mandate to provide transformational learning experiences for Africa’s future leaders

MasterStart and B-BBEE Points For Your Business

Empowerdex, one of the most respected ratings agencies in South Africa, has issued an opinion classifying the online short courses offered by USB-ED and MasterStart in Category B of the Skills Development matrix.

The Skills Development category forms one of the primary pillars of B-BBEE which benefits your organisation and the positive upliftment of your staff. Earn up to 20 B-BBEE points (and 5 bonus points) through the Skills Development category towards your scorecard.

What does that mean for your business?

Training points are earned by:

  1. – Internal training – limited to 15% of total training spend
  2. – External training

How much do you need to spend to achieve full points?

Any company generating a revenue lower than R10 million per annum are exempt from upskilling black employees.

Companies that generate R10 to R49.99 million are required to spend a minimum of 3% on upskilling black employees.

Companies that generate R50 million and upwards are required to spend a minimum of 6% on upskilling black employees.

MasterStart’s courses could contribute towards your training spend

  1. – A category B course rating in the Learning Programme Matrix from Empowerdex (one of the most respected ratings agencies in South Africa) means that spend on MasterStart courses could form part of your total training spend.
  2. – All spend on category B courses could be included in your training spend, contributing to the required 6% of leviable payroll amount.
  3. – In addition to the actual course cost, the salary earned by the employee during the duration of the course could also be included in your training spend.

Benefits for the employer:

  • – Employers can include our courses in their mandatory grant application to access this grant from their Sector Education and Training Authority (SETA).
  • – Minimal productivity downtime as employees do not have to spend time off-site.

Enrol in a lifelong learning journey with us today! Empower your staff and your organisation, delivering a bold blow to Africa’s future success.

Managing operations in small businesses: 5 essential techniques to learn today

managing operations

Big businesses don’t struggle in the same way when it comes to certain operations, as sometimes small businesses do. This is because you’ll often find big businesses have various departments with many skilled individuals who have extensive experience in managing specific business functions.

The role of operations management within a big business, for example; is a streamlined process headed up by one, or perhaps a few, experienced and highly knowledgeable operations managers. Most times there’s a team of people supporting the managers’ operational objectives by constantly seeking out ways to improve business operations. With a core team, it becomes a lot easier to find solutions and fully optimise operations.

The role of operations management in small businesses on the other hand often lacks a clear-cut process, usually developed through trial and error, and often managed by the business owner themselves, or a manager who is less knowledgeable on how to effectively manage operations. Unfortunately, this is usually because small businesses lack funds, especially during the startup phase.

With the role of operations management being a critical function within a business, what are small businesses to do if they’re unable to hire an experienced operations manager, but want to improve business operations and achieve a streamlined process? Well, the trick is, in fact, going back to basics, and finding a logical step by step method of managing the operational processes.

Take a look at these 5 essential techniques you can learn and implement today, to better manage operations within your small business:

1. Assess each task

The best way to assess a task is by breaking it up by asking vital questions. Firstly, find the source of the work – where does the work come from? Is it from a client, is it from the supervisor, the vendor? This will give you an idea of the nature of the task and how it should be handled.
Secondly, evaluate the process of that specific task. If it’s a work order for example; break down the process of how this task is managed by detailing each step: add up the charges of the work order, enter the values into the computer and hold it for payment from the customer etc. Creating a process is an incredibly important step.

Then, decide on how the work is stored. Is it filed in a personal client folder? Should it be stored away? Through assessing tasks it’s easier to create a process and identify the kind of person suitable for the job; as well as to better create job descriptions and worker manuals.

2. Prioritise tasks

Prioritising tasks is not just about creating a deadline – that comes later on. This covers the sequence of the task; which is also concerned with the creation of the process. Thereafter, tasks can be prioritised according to importance as well as the deadline – which can be managed by the employee themselves. When people have a clear indication of timelines and are aware of priorities they are able to streamline the process for themselves; resulting in a more efficient operation – even without much help from the operations manager.

3. Delegate accordingly

After you, as the manager, have assessed the task and have prioritised the sequence of workflow, you’ll have a good understanding of the perfect type of employee who will be able to carry out the task effectively and efficiently. You’ll know the skills and strengths that the task demands, and you’ll need to align this with those of the employee. Assigning the task to a person within the team who you think will best fit the requirements is called delegating.

4. Evaluate outcomes

Once the task is complete, it’s important that you evaluate the outcomes – especially in the beginning. Be careful not to look like you are micromanaging – it could come across that way if you continue evaluating results every single time after a task is complete, for months on end. Spot evaluations work more effectively as it does not threaten the employee.

5. Find solutions to areas of concern

After evaluating the outcomes, you will have a good idea of where the weak areas in the processes are. It could be a weakness in the work sequence, or even in the employees’ ability to carry out the job. Whatever the concerns are, you will need to find alternative solutions for them; which will hopefully better the operations. Remember that you should be committed to constant improvement – even a solution could prove to be ineffective.