The 5 Essential Trends in Operations Management in 2020

The operations manager of a business is now a fundamental role. That’s because the right operations manager can make it easier for any sized business to make more sales and reduce their ongoing expenses. While the sales, marketing, and customer service teams will primarily focus on the sales elements, they will be relying on the operations manager to ensure that the business operations themselves are consistent.

When even the smallest cost-saving can result in huge profit generation in the long-term, those operations managers are clearly of vital importance.

However, the landscape is changing for operations management. Emerging technologies and business trends continue to have an impact on the role, so it is critical to keep up to date with the latest trends.

1. The Employee Experience

One of the most challenging tasks for any business is ensuring that the right talent is hired. One of the key business trends of the last three years is the shift to a more employee-centric model that prioritizes personal and career development. This is because the productivity gains of a more satisfied and content workforce are worth the time and financial investment. For operations managers, that means ensuring that internal communication is both transparent and accessible. Modern workforces want feedback on their hard work, as well as clear performance expectations.

“The conventional definition of management is getting work done through people, but real management is developing people through work.” Agha Hasan Abedi, Banker and Philanthropist

Peer-to-peer communication tools are the key to improving the ability of the modern operations manager to provide real-time benefits to the team members that want a focus on development. By prioritizing systems of one-to-one peer communications, a business will:

  • Improve morale
  • Eradicate roadblocks to pre-set goals
  • Improve collaboration that results in a more efficient team

By tackling employee development from an operations perspective, it becomes much easier to highlight and identify those strategies that will be most effective for a particular workspace or business model.

2. Strategic Operations

The business strategies that any business in any sector uses to encourage growth and increase sales need to be strategic. However, those strategies will require a robust drive to operational efficiency. That’s where the operations manager will play a fundamental and critical role in the development and growth of a company.

They will need to ensure that employees have access to the tools that they need to comply with the strategies and that the latest technologies are being used to break down barriers between departments.

The goal is maximum efficiency, and there are a number of ways to approach this goal. One of the most popular methods for improving this output, used successfully by big-name brands like Ford and Google, is the 10 Area System. This guide from Kettering Online breaks down the ten operations management decisions that will ensure more streamlined operations, improved efficiency, less waste, and a boost in productivity.

3. Mobile Communications

One of the most understated of operations management trends of recent years is mobile communication. Being able to connect with team members, suppliers, and customers via apps and portals is now indispensable, and those companies that have yet to prioritize internal and external mobile communications are damaging their operational efficiency.

“Connectivity doesn’t just mean you get a lot more chances to deliver messages about customer service and pricing plans. This isn’t one-sided. It enables people to talk back.” James Murdoch, Chief Executive Officer of 21st Century Fox

This is often overlooked simply due to oversaturation: everyone relies on their phone. Frontline employees, in particular, are often overlooked when it comes to mobile communications planning, and that means that there are inherent roadblocks on the customer journey to a sale. A more robust approach to mobile communications will need to focus primarily on the user experience, especially when it comes to information sharing. The core components of your internal, mobile communication strategy will need to include:

  • Easy access for all employees (from senior management and remote workers to customer-facing employees)
  • Rapid delivery of business information in a way that allows for the bypassing of hard copy comms or easily ignored emails

If your business is focusing on the message rather than the delivery of that message, then collaboration becomes more challenging, and productivity will drop.

4. Automation

There is no area of business management that has not been affected by the rise of automation. Automation is way more than just a business buzzword that will be forgotten about in a few years. Instead, it is the next stage of evolution for every team member across every department. From automated chatbots to hotel check-ins, the right automation software and hardware can drastically cut time wasted when it comes to manual processes, and that makes it particularly useful for operations managers. That’s because a large part of their role will be the gathering, processing, and analysis of data.

“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” Bill Gates

Automation is changing the world, and by using the right automation tools, the operations managers of today can free up their time so that they are better able to focus on more productive tasks. Data management is critical for more efficient operations and business processes, but it is a traditionally time-consuming and laborious task. Automation tools should already be a part of the operations managers toolkit.

5. The Customer Relationship

One of the most common mistakes to see in newly formed operations management positions is the opinion that customer service is not within their remit. This lack of understanding is perhaps due to the focus on cost control that many brands consider to be the main goal of the operations team.

However, this ignores the need to understand buying decisions and their link to business optimization.

Operations managers are no longer left to pore over accounting documents and then trim where possible. When global performance is so closely tied to operational efficiency, the modern operations manager needs to work much more collaboratively with customer service teams so that they have more awareness of the end-user.

The role of the operations manager is changing, and that means it is more important than ever that those in that role keep up to date with their evolving responsibilities. From the latest automation technologies to the operational and strategic systems being used, operations managers need to evaluate their own efficiencies as much as they do those of their company.

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