An Entrepreneur’s Take on ‘Operations’

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‘Operations’ has never been seen as a profession like accountancy or the law, yet every business relies on it to deliver the goods. The Wikipedia definition is long-winded and anyhow dodges the issue by defining an ‘Operations Manager’ rather than operations themselves

So What is Operations?

Well we can start by saying what operations are about. They are about:

  1. Making good things happen
  2. Preventing bad things from happening
  3. Keeping everything to time and
  4. Ensuring the best use of assets, including time.

The definition we are working towards must have different meanings at different levels in an organisation. For you as the entrepreneur central to the creation of a new business it has four main aspects:

  1. Securing and storing your products or services
  2. Selling those products and services
  3. Delivering those products and services
  4. Administering the whole process, including all the necessary book-keeping, infrastructure management and resource allocation.

For people lower down in the pecking order the definitions will be narrower but for you at the top everything that happens from this point on is ‘operations’.

It has been said that all industrial and commercial processes can be defines as logistics, moving ‘stuff’, stock, resources, money, information, knowledge, documents, from one place to another So we could define ‘operations’ as being the same as ‘logistics’ but not necessarily involving materials.

Everything that will ever happen in your new organisation, is an operation.


Years ago I managed construction sites. We were highly dependent on young men straight out of college to run our everyday operations, and one day I asked one of our young men how he was to get a bulldozer on site. He said he would ‘manage’ it. On further questioning that answer was that they – the superintendents – would load the bulldozer onto a landing craft and then go off to lunch. When they got back the crew of the landing craft and the bulldozer driver would have ‘managed’ to get the bulldozer into position.

Well they were young men just out of college.

You must go through every process in your business, line by line, and decide

  1. who is going to do it,
  2. how and when they are going to do it,
  3. who can authorise,
  4. how will it be recorded?

That’s the easy bit: now you have to start with contingencies. What if deliveries fail, what if staff go sick, what if my computers go down.

There are no off the peg answers, but there are techniques that will help you find your own answers.

Roger Webb is a retired CEO from small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). This article comes from his wiki site http://computer-virgin.net together with 150+ other pages of useful advice for entrepreneurs launching their first business

For those going further and entering into eCommerce, our sister site http://MyWebTrade.net provides a huge range of tips and information.

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