Project management is considered one of the most important functions of an operations manager. A project can be of three types: materials management, service management or both.
While materials management is the primary form of project management, service management is a recent addition to the project management portfolio. Increased competition among companies in the recent times has resulted in additional responsibilities being added to just about every PM portfolio. Services management is one of the areas an operations manager is usually expected to look after. It is not unusual for Operations manager to have both service and material elements in one project.
The scope of operations in both areas is indeed wide—the operations manager needs to ensure smooth processes and also make sure that the products and services under his control generate profits.
Given below are the responsibilities of an operations manager in each area of project management:
Both materials management and service management assignments start from the moment the company receives an order for products. The assignment, depending on the agreement with the client, may or may not be a continuous process.
- 1) Project initiation stage
- 2) Project planning and design stage
- 3) Project execution and construction stage
- 4) Project monitoring, evaluation and controlling systems
- 5)Project completion (if not continuous)
- 6) Project execution stage (if continuous) with input from evaluation stage
For example, if the client purchases products and also pays for continued customer service, then it is a continuous process. The various activities related to project management are:
Requirements gathering: The firm understands client expectations from the client at this stage. This stage is critical, as the operations manager needs to understand the requirements clearly so that the deliverable clearly fulfill client requirements. You need to know deadline, project details, time table for the project, and how success or failure will be measured of the ongoing project.
Supply chain management: The operations manager needs to get in touch with the suppliers and inform them about the exact nature of supplies that are needed to fulfill the client requirements. The operations manager needs to constantly ensure that the supplies are ready for the project on time. It is especially important to find out where the problems might occur, what could be the bottlenecks of the project. Since encountering a significant bottleneck problem without anticipating it can take days or even weeks and months for the larger projects.
Inventory management: The operations manager needs to develop a sound inventory management system keeping the assignment in mind. The inventory must be in a position to store the supplies well, and the firm must be able to retrieve the raw materials as and when required. Often project gets hold up and fall behind the schedule because the inventory wasn’t properly prepared.
Quality management: The operations manager needs to be constantly in touch with the quality assurance personnel so that the quality of the deliverables fulfill the agreed quality criteria. The operations manager plays an important role in formulating the quality and compliance standards for the deliverables. The operations manager needs to maintain a checklist and needs to evaluate, with the help of the assurance personnel, whether the deliverable is fit to be delivered. This might not affect time table of project, but it can certainly affect longevity of it. If new project is manufacturing of car part, and the qualities of materials are low, project might be on time, but still will fail in the long run due to returns and need to re manufacture.
With globalization breaking through national boundaries, competition has moved beyond local borders, and firms today are competing on an even field with the firms from other countries. Often operations manager will have to wear a hat of project manager. This means firms have to improve the quality of their services and products by several notches and operations manager is the one to implement those changes.