Six Success Tips For Operations Professionals
Is your Operations Group aligned with your company’s vision?
As market dynamics change, so should your operations group. Make sure you are being proactive, able to adapt and stay competitive. Here are six success tips all operations professionals should incorporate into their routine.
Focus on Communication input and output.
Often times operations becomes a microcosm of its own and loses touch unintentionally, sometimes deliberately, with the rest of the organization. Don’t let this happen. Be open to market demands and listen to your customer both internally and externally. Understand the company’s overall strategy and incorporate it into your world. Spread the message and allow your employees to understand how their job is part of the big picture; quality will improve, morale will improve. The better a communicator you are, the more likely you will get capital approvals as well.
Engage with your employees.
Great people skills will provide an advantage when your operation needs to be flexible. Listen to your employees; provide ongoing training and consistent feedback. Address performance concerns quickly and resolve disputes by focusing on what is right, not who is right.
Maintain useful metrics and an analytical mindset.
There are two types of metrics to track: The first group of metrics is used to manage your operation including production quantity, scrap levels, product costs, raw materials, lead-times, safety reports, quality claims/complaints, shipping performance, machine speeds, etc…This is a very large group of metrics and must be reviewed on a consistent basis in order to micromanage each area and ensure the performance of the operation. However there is a second group of metrics. This group consists of metrics linked to the overall business strategy: where you are today and what you need to achieve to be successful. This group probably has some elements that you are already tracking in the first group of metrics, but it has others as well. For example: Key customer lead-time reductions, inventory turns on new product lines, cost savings/earned profit from reduction of product returns. Share your metrics throughout the organization, make them proactive and create an analytical mindset in everything you do.
Stay on top of trends in equipment and engineering.
You and your team should be aware of new technologies, as well as have the ability to improve on the existing technology you are utilizing. Technology dictates speed, quality, innovation and in many cases, service levels. Many companies fail because they don’t adapt to changing market trends. Go to trade shows, read technical papers, and participate in professional and industry specific associations. If you manage technology and improve your technical knowledge, you will have an edge over the competition.
Creating a balance between controlling the process and being flexible is always a difficult concept, especially if you are tracking your metrics, or tied to an automated process. However, business is competitive and you need to ensure that Operations, Logistics and Engineering can adapt to changing market conditions. One approach is to create subset environments for flexibility, loophole management if you will. If you track this activity you may find that market demands are growing for these changes and you may need to re-engineer your process to make a new common practice. By doing this you will not be controlled or disrupted by change, you will manage it and be proactive about it.
Implement a continuous improvement philosophy in everything you do.
There are so many techniques for continuous improvement these days, whether you bring in consultants, you or your employees become certified, read books or utilize various “Lean” and “Six Sigma” tools, whatever you do make sure that the philosophy to improve is in everything you do. Conduct best practice reviews and get feedback from your organization on new ways/areas to implement these concepts; reward improvements by posting successes and communicating results.
If you currently work in Operations, I encourage you to incorporate these tools into your job performance. If you are a manager that sees value in these characteristics, please share this article with your organization.
I hope this perspective is helpful to you in your day-to-day life. Test out these concepts and share your results with us. Others can benefit from your experiences. Good luck!
Written by Lisa Woods, President Lisa Woods Consulting & Founder of ManagingAmericans.com
Lisa is a dynamic business leader & author located in Western New York with more than 20 years experience leading, managing and driving growth in the corporate world. Today she partners with business leaders to understand their vision, identify internal and external roadblocks, define a practical strategic path forward and guide a successful transformation. This work includes strategy definition & goal setting, organizational design, facilitating team buy-in, establishing visual metrics, internal and external research studies, business feasibility assessments, and investor insight into organizational strength, weakness & strategic opportunity. She helps business leaders drive growth & increase profits.
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