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Fix The Process, Not The Problem

October 2, 2023
Bill Kimball

Although you are confident that the fancy new system you are deploying is merited and necessary, an application rollout can be a nightmarish experience. The key to improved FCR is providing your customer-facing employees with the relevant information at the right time in a manner that allows them to focus on the customer. Secondly, especially in the service industry, the customer is becoming partner – often unwillingly. For example in a self-serving restaurant customer has to pick his order on a beep.

If in our previous analogy you were a school principal, now you are the sports coach – motivating people through hard times, training, educating, and managing diversity and cultural differences. This can be especially daunting during periods of change or growth in which companies needed to hire in large numbers. A well-planned and well-executed onboarding process will increase the chances for a positive work experience leading to a win-win relationship between the new hire and your company. Challenges in Operations management arise as a result of need of efficient and effective systems. Efficient systems are required for making cost effective and sustainable processes. At one level, therefore, second-order learning is simply a matter of resource allocation. To illustrate what this process entailed, we will concentrate on the activities of one team, the food-service product team.

operations management problem

Many companies have adopted “green” or environmentally friendly strategies as part of a focus on sustainability. These strategies seek to eliminate waste and turn the company’s attention to minimizing negative effects on the environment that reduce the well-being of local consumers. Ethical Conduct – Ethics is defined as a subset of business ethics that is meant to ensure that production functions or activities are not damaging to people or society. Understanding the ethics of business will ensure that you will not fall out of line in terms of keeping the people and environment of your business safe. Unethical behavior has contributed to the demise of various companies around the globe – which is why understanding them is so important. Being ethical across all functions of your business will ensure that your operation runs smoothly and that you will not turn into one of the companies that have failed due to this.

Economic Issues Facing Business

A weak communications process can hamper the processing of orders or the payment of invoices. Operations managers can end competing practices by instituting company-wide standards.

Overseeing different departments, such as finance, planning and technology, is just one of the challenges in operations management these executives face. As resource availability becomes scarce and customers’ demands increase, the field of operations management will become even more important to ensure that the organization delivers quality products to their customers. With increasing customer expectations and the decreasing supply of some resources, operations management has become increasingly important for the success and profitability of businesses. Effective and adequate operations management bring more accountability and accuracy that allows for the successful delivery of goods and services. The food-service product team’s volume did not just double, it quadrupled, while the number of employees stayed the same. The mill went from being the fifth of five suppliers to being the industry’s number-one supplier for its products in two-and-one-half years. By 1986, the mill had to expand the capacity of its machines to meet demand.

Call centers with higher FCR rates also typically enjoyed lowered operating costs and happier employees. After all you are a multi-tasker extraordinaire, a jack-of-all-trades, and a wearer of many hats. Factors of production such as managing an increasingly diverse workforce, shortage of skilled workers, availability of raw materials from sustainable sources are challenges to modern systems of operations management. The marketplace is now demanding customized products in place of mass-marketed products. This has created a challenge for operations management to develop systems which are capable to produce wide variety of products at low cost. In the small-business setting, record keeping can sometimes take a back seat to more pressing concerns like meeting customer demands or keeping production levels high.

Operation Management

The organization had moved from being a mill that faced shutdown into the lead mill of the group. As part of the team’s effort to learn about one customer’s business, the operator had gone to one of its plants and spent a long time watching the machines and talking with their line operators.

Mastering oral, written, and non-verbal communication is integral to making day-to-day operations run smoothly. Effective and efficient communication is also necessary for building employee morale and deepening trust with management. Operations managers who take the time to be self-reflective, the initiative to be authentic, and the effort to work on their communication skills are bound to be both productive and successful. The development of these skills are frequently the most requested of upper level management of their new and mid-level managers and required to be successful in any company. Put simply, fix-as-fail means that when something goes wrong, the product or service is fixed before it is sent to the customer.

Information technology is one of the most important enablers for developing and easy implementation of tools such as ERP, computer-aided manufacturing, Flexible manufacturing system etc. Now the challenge is investing in the right technology and mastering it. It is difficult for any small and medium company to implement regularly changing technology. Social responsibility, therefore, is a form of marketing and public relations. One of the most common issues many small businesses deal with is managing the ever-increasing overhead. From rent to insurance to utility charges, high overhead costs can be fatally damaging to your business if they are not kept in check. To avoid missing monthly payments or overspending on business supplies, be sure to plan for your expenses carefully.

For the turnaround to succeed, its products had to become the mill’s largest line, doubling the existing volume. Food-service product lines got more customer complaints than any other product, and they had gradually been losing market share. Of the work force, delivering a serious blow to the small town in which the mill was the largest employer. But these actions, management knew, could only slow the mill’s losses.

Operational Control Functions

At best, it would buy one year’s breathing time to turn the operation around. Success would depend on shifting the mix of products sold by the mill.

  • You know that you play a major role in doing the valuable and necessary everyday functions that enable other departments in the company to succeed; that you are making a real difference.
  • He returned to the mill convinced that the customer could run slightly thinner paper just as efficiently as the paper it was then using, and he proposed that the mill offer it as an alternative.
  • Effective operations managers must implement best practices with a concern for all three pillars of sustainability.
  • Subtract some margin from this price to get that cost under which a business has to deliver the products.
  • Managing conflicts or competing business practices within an organization is a major challenge for an operations managers, who are often left feeling like a school principal.
  • Recruiting, hiring and training employees is a long and expensive process.
  • Open communication channels, extra support during the transition and performance support for employees will yield a better understanding, commitment, and faster adoption from all people expected to use the software.

These managers were charged with enlisting the help of all the employees in their areas and urged to give everyone a chance to contribute. From time to time, you encounter operational management challenges that require you to rethink your business strategy, pivot your organizational objectives, and refocus your priorities. Stay ahead of the most common operational management challenges for small businesses so you can achieve your goals on time and on budget. The traditional pull approach to inventory control, a number of techniques have been developed based on the work of Ford W. Harris , which came to be known as the economic order quantity model. This model marks the beginning of inventory theory, which includes the Wagner-Within procedure, the newsvendor model, base stock model and the fixed time period model. These models usually involve the calculation of cycle stocks and buffer stocks, the latter usually modeled as a function of demand variability.


Many operations managers are responsible for corporate reporting, including the compilation of financial and performance data, the communication of this data to stakeholders and regular audits of the organization’s financial books. Challenges can arise in corporate reporting when the business hasn’t kept current or accurate records. By the end of the year, satisfied customers were giving the mill increasing shares of their business, the volume of the top four products had doubled, and profit margins had improved. Customers who had previously been discouraged from visiting the mill were invited to tour the cleaner facility.

In some ways, an operations manager is in charge of everything generally, and nothing specifically, explains Zip Recruiter. Managing the competing business units within an organization is one of the key issues in operations management. The finance function of the business may prefer to communicate via email, for instance, while the human resources director may prefer written memos.

“How blue jeans is made – material, manufacture, making, history, used, procedure, steps, product, machine”. Queue networks are systems in which single queues are connected by a routing network. In this image servers are represented by circles, queues by a series of rectangles and the routing network by arrows. In the study of queue networks one typically tries to obtain the equilibrium distribution of the network.

Keep strict track of where your company’s money is going and ask your employees to do the same. Working with a professional bookkeeper can help small businesses to effectively manage their income and expenses to ensure they have sufficient cash flow. In heavily automated production systems production planning and information gathering may be executed via the control system, attention should be paid however to avoid problems such as deadlocks, as these can lead to productivity losses. Value stream mapping, a representation of materials and information flows inside a company, mainly used in the lean manufacturing approach. The calculation of the time-line usually involves using Little’s law to derive lead time from stock levels and takt time. Lean systems is a systemic method for the elimination of waste (“Muda”) within a manufacturing or service process. Lean also takes into account waste created through overburden (“Muri”) and waste created through unevenness in work loads (“Mura”).

Since the number of kanbans in the production system is set by managers as a constant number, the kanban procedure works as WIP controlling device, which for a given arrival rate, per Little’s law, works as a lead time controlling device. A more recent approach, introduced by Terry Hill, involves distinguishing competitive variables in order winner and order qualifiers when defining operations strategy. Order winners are variables which permit differentiating the company from competitors, while order qualifiers are prerequisites for engaging in a transaction. This view can be seen as a unifying approach between operations management and marketing . MTM was the first of a series of predetermined motion time systems, predetermined in the sense that estimates of time are not determined in loco but are derived from an industry standard. This was explained by its originators in a book they published in 1948 called “Method-Time Measurement”.