Challenges That Face Operation Managers
Operation managers play a central role in stabilizing an organization’s policies and procedures across major business areas including finance, planning and technology.
Managing the competing business practices within an organization is a major challenge for an operation manager. The finance function of the business may prefer to communicate via email, for instance, while the human resources director may prefer written memos. These differences in business procedure can have a detrimental effect on operations when they impact the effectiveness or efficiency of delivering quality goods and services. A weak communications process can hamper the processing of orders or the payment of invoices. Operation managers can end competing practices by instituting company-wide standards. Even in small businesses where one person might handle several functions, all team members should understand how the organization operates and follow those procedures. The operation manager’s job is to ensure that everyone is using the same methods, is following the same policies and is communicating openly.
Operation managers are tasked with creating long-term customer and employee strategies that acknowledge the organization’s impact on the social, cultural and economic environment. 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. Developing business policies that encourage transparency are also part of the sustainability push. This can be a particular challenge to operation managers in small businesses, because these work environments tend to be more insular than larger corporations. Creating a set of sustainable business practices impacts the organization’s relationship with its employees and customers.
Many operation 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. 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. Nonetheless, full and complete record keeping on profits and losses as well as sales goals and expenses is necessary to assess the company’s long-term viability.
In many ways, social responsibility is related to sustainability, but this function of the operation manager looks specifically at how the business engages with its local community beyond trying to get consumers to buy its products. Many businesses choose to get involved with nonprofit organizations, to sponsor local sports teams or to volunteer in local schools. While these can be challenging projects to organize, a business’s community involvement gives its neighbors a sense that the company cares about its surroundings and its customers on more than just a profit level, and it raises awareness of the business and its brand. Social responsibility, therefore, is a form of marketing and public relations.
“In small businesses, the role of the operation manager is often assumed by the business’s owner or its general manager. The job involves overseeing the company’s strategic approach to its on-site operations” said Salomón Juan Marcos Villarreal president of Grupo Denim.