The term Operations Management may sound fancy and modern, but the concept has been in place since 5000 BC! In simple terms, operations management involves managing the production system that converts inputs or raw materials/labour into the final output or product/services. While the concept is not new, the development of a specialized career specifically for the role of an operations manager is certainly new.
To learn more, read on.
What is Operations Management?
Operations Management is the branch of management that oversees the entire production timeline of a product or services from the input stage to the finished product, including planning, organizing, directing and supervising. The goal of operations management is to ensure that the production process goes through smoothly, in a cost-effective manner and in a timely fashion, while maintaining the required quality standards. For example, in an e-commerce setup such as Amazon or Flipkart, the operations management team would track the order placed, payment method selected, and inventory to final shipping, delivery and customer feedback.
As it is the ratio of input to output that decides the productivity of a company, Operations Management has the power to boost productivity and increase profits. Accordingly, it also involves extensive people handling and a high-pressure environment.
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Role Of Operations Management In A Company & Relevant Industries
The role of operations management in a company can be classified according to the stage of the production timeline. Operations managers handle strategic issues regarding the size of manufacturing plants, inventory levels, raw materials acquisition, materials handling, quality control, customer demands and cost-effective methods of delivering customer expectations.
An important function of operations management is overseeing supply chains, which involves managing the supply of raw material to the production unit and the further supply of the product from the production unit to final delivery; and logistics, which caters to the flow of products within an organisation.
The actual process of development is also supervised by operations managers and they oversee the delivery of goods/services to customers. After delivery, operations management also follows up with customers to confirm that the products met the required quality standards. Finally, operations management shares customer feedback with the relevant departments so as to improve the process for the future.
Operations management is vital to nearly all industries, including banking systems, hospitals, suppliers, e-commerce, technology companies and more. Based on the industry, the role would involve managing the production of manufactured goods or services.
For example, operations management in pharmaceuticals would involve overseeing the production of raw materials into drugs ready to be shipped to hospitals or retailers. Operations managers overseeing the manufacture of products are also known as production managers. An airline would require operation managers to oversee the transportation of passengers.
Demand for Operations Management
There is an immense demand for operations management professionals, across multiple industries and at various seniority levels. Considering that nearly every company requires an operations management team, there are opportunities galore.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than one-third of new jobs in the management field will be for operations management, with the overall operations management employment growth estimated at 12.5 percent till 2022.
In the Indian market, the economic growth of the nation, globalization, rising competition and the ‘Make In India’ initiative have led to an increased demand for operations management for better productivity and success. Whether in the private sector or government services, operations management is a key component for the growth of any company.
Among the various roles, process managers typically have a higher salary (I’ll talk about it in the next section). Top recruiters include Tech Mahindra, Maruti Suzuki, Amazon.in, Wipro, Bank of America, Emerson and United Technologies. Due to the substantial demand for operations management, after completing a relevant management course you would most likely receive job offers directly from campus placements.
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Career Options in Operations Management
Career options in the field of operations management can broadly be divided on the basis of which stage of the production timeline you are managing, or whether you are managing the overall process. The qualifications generally remain the same for the different roles, as an overall degree in Operations Management will qualify you for any entry-level position. Further specialisation can help you if you have a particular area of interest.
Here are a few of the popular career options:
1. Supply Chain & Logistics Management
Supply chain refers to the overall network of organisations and processes that result in the final product or service provided to the consumer. Supply chain management coordinates between the different production activities to achieve the best possible efficiency.
Logistics management oversees the procurement, supply, and management of raw materials for the company. It forms a part of overall supply chain management.
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2. Inventory Control Manager
While the supply chain and logistics managers oversee the entire procurement and raw materials process, an inventory control manager is specifically focussed on maintaining the quality and supply of raw materials. As an inventory control manager, you would be conducting regular reviews and solving any inventory problems that crop up.
3. Process Managers
As indicated by the name, process managers supervise the production timeline, coordinating the development process that takes place while processing raw materials into the final product. Process managers also evaluate the performance of the production process, identifying changes and deviations, and implementing suitable solutions.
4. Delivery and Returns Managers
Once the internal production process is complete, the delivery and return managers supervise the delivery of the final product (or service) to the customer. This role involves considerable customer dealing and is also responsible for maintaining customer relations and handling feedback/returns as needed.
5. Operations Manager
An operations manager is generally a senior role. An operations manager oversees the entire production process, manages overall operations, and ensures that the production process is time-efficient, cost-effective and meets required quality standards. Junior roles as operations management executives are also available.
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Top Operations Management Courses and Colleges
Designated courses focussing on operations management are generally available at a postgraduate level, either in the form of MBA (Masters of Business Administration) degrees or Post Graduate Diplomas specialising in operations management. The eligibility for PG courses in operations management is any bachelor’s degree, but a BBA degree would surely give you an edge. Short-term courses are also available online, however, a full-time course at a renowned institute will help you secure a suitable job with a well-known company.
Popular Institutes for MBA/Management courses for Operations Management in India are:
- Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Ahmedabad
- IIM, Bangalore
- Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad
- IIM, Calcutta
- SP Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai
- ICFAI Business School, Hyderabad
- Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune
- Institute of Management Studies, Dehradun
According to QS TopMBA rankings, top institutes offering MBA/Management Courses in Operations Management at a global level are:
- Harvard Business School (USA)
- MIT Sloan School of Management (USA)
- INSEAD Singapore (Singapore)
- The Wharton School (USA)
- IE Business School (Spain)
If you are ambitious, enjoy problem-solving and dealing with people, then a career in operations management may be an ideal fit for you. The role of operations management is integral to the success of any company, and while there is pressure, there is an immense opportunity for you to grow. Fine-tune the industry, stage of production and sector to your preferences and you have a match!