What is Operations Management?

If a business wants to implement the highest level of possible efficiency, look to the field of operations management for guidance. Operations management concentrates on turning materials and labor into goods and services as resourcefully as possible to get the most organizational profit.

Familiarity with a vast array of disciplines is a requirement for any operations management position. Operations management involves general management, maintenance management, strategic policies, material planning, and analysis of manufacturing and production systems.

The History of Operations Management

In its early stages, operations management was referred to as production management. It began in manufacturing and spread quickly in the 18th century, creating a catalyst for the Industrial Revolution by allowing for interchangeability of parts. When Henry Ford created the assembly line, production management became more relevant. The economy began to be more service-based, and companies started using production management principles for process planning, so it made sense to begin calling it operations management.

Current Trends in Operations Management

Recent trends in the field come from concepts like:

  • Six Sigma: Control limits are placed at six standard deviations from the mean of a normal distribution. The goal is achieved if there are only 3.4 defects found per million units. This approach to quality was developed in the late 1980s at Motorola and made famous by Jack Welch of General Electric. Six Sigma uses a five-step method called DMAIC, which stands for define, measure, analyze, improve and control. Six Sigma is now a strategy used by different kinds of companies all of over the world to streamline their production.
  • Lean Manufacturing: This philosophy originated with the Toyota Corporation and focuses on eliminating different types of waste in a process.
  • Agile is also part of Lean manufacturing, and originated in software development. Agile is known for developing products in tiny increments called sprints, and rapid decision-making processes.
  • Business Process Re-engineering: This process strategizes more efficient ways to look at the analysis and design of processes and workflows by taking everything used previously, discarding it, and starting the process over. This promotes invention and causes dramatic process enhancements.
  • Reconfigurable Manufacturing Systems: These systems are designed to allow for rapid change in response to shifts in the market or the internal system.
  • Project Production Management: This form of management applies analytical tools to the processes within major capital projects.
  • Behavioral Operations Management: This form of management studies how human behavior changes the discipline, especially irrational decision making.

    Careers in Operations Management

    Operations managers need to know how to control numerous issues. A solid understanding of project management methods like Six Sigma and Lean is important, as well as quality control, raw material acquisition process, maintenance policies, and keeping up with inventory levels. They also need to be able to understand formulas and how to apply them.

    Employment of management occupations is predicted to increase by 6 percent from 2014-2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    Knowledge of supply chain and logistics principles is also essential to this field. Other necessary skills include creativity, working well with others, strong organizational abilities, analysis and understanding, process coordination and tech-savviness.

    A master’s degree in project management would be beneficial to anyone looking to delve deeper into this field. This degree prepares students with specialized knowledge in areas like scope, time, cost and quality management.

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