The Responsibilities of Operations Managers

Operations managers are responsible for all activities in the organization which contribute to the effective production of a service.

The responsibility of operations management also explores the possible consequences of the actions of the other functions and their impact on the operation. This becomes an indirect responsibility of the operations manager, namely, to inform other functions of opportunities and constraints provided by the operation's capabilities. They will need to discuss with other functions how both operations' plans and their own plans might be modified for the benefit of both functions. Other functions will subsequently be encouraged to suggest ways in which the operations function can improve its service to the rest of the organization.

This approach of mutual responsibility for other functions' activities seem somewhat idealistic underlying what should be good practice in any organization. However, internal customer-internal supplier relations yield huge benefits in breaking down some of the traditional organizational barriers.

Regarding the direct responsibilities of operations management, the exact nature of these responsibilities depend on the way the organization has chosen its operation function.

When the operations management team attempts to understand what it is trying to achieve two sets of decisions are involved. The first is to develop a clear vision of what role the operation is to play in the organization illustrating the operation's contribution to the organization achieving its long-term goals.Then determine whether these goals have any implications for the organization's performance objectives. These performance objectives include the quality of the service, the speed with which they are delivered to the customers, the dependability with which the operation keeps its delivery promises, the flexibility of the operation to change what it does and the cost of producing the service.

Operations management involves hundreds of minute-by-minute decisions throughout the day as well as week. It becomes imperative for operations managers to have a set of general principles which can guide decision making towards the organization's longer-term goals called an operations strategy. This involves placing operations strategy in the general strategy hierarchy of the organization, connecting functional and business strategies together. Operations performance objectives will need to be prioritized to positively affect customer needs and competitor behaviour.

The design of the service is crucial to an area which is always under the direct responsibility of the operations function which is the transformation process itself. This process design means designing the whole network of operations which provide inputs to the operations function and deliver its output to customers.

In order for design activities to work effectively they need to be planned and controlled. This involves the deciding of what the operation's resources should be doing, then ensuring that they are really doing it.

The strategy has been formulated, the services and processes designed and the work is being planned and controlled on an ongoing basis. The continuing responsibility of the operations manager is to improve the performance of this operation. Failure to improve at least as fast as competitors or at the rate of the customers' rising expectations is to allow the operations function to fall short of organization expectations. Or simply making operations better is stopping them from going wrong in the first place.

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