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Top 10 Priorities for Operations Managers in 2018

-Shashank Nanivadekar


Operations Managers (OM) are under enormous amounts of stress to what seems to be a simple task: Keep customers happy. Their customers come in all shapes and sizes: internal, external, happy, angry, upset, confused, irritated, and often a combination of all of them. Running this gauntlet of challenges and actors in the manufacturing supply chain requires a sharp mind that knows what exactly to focus on.


To make it easier, we have listed the top ten priorities for Operations Managers in 2018.

Product Improvements

Improving your product should be the top priority since your company's competitive ability relies on the way the world interacts with it. Managing customer feedback and insight to drive product improvements and making sure that the requirements for change are seamlessly communicated to engineering and manufacturing is key for OMs.

Process Efficiency

OMs consistently need to be able to spot where the bottlenecks are in all facets in their control.  From improving manufacturing cycle times to reducing turnaround time for reworks, te processes that an OM deploys in the company will consistently get tested. You cannot keep responding to each challenge on a whim and need to rely on a framework of improving your processes and improving how well the process holds up to newer challenges.

Wasted Resources

When Taiichi Ohno was asked about his renowned Just-in-Time production system, he commented simply: We try to reduce all the non-value-added activities that occur in the process from getting an order to a customer paying us. Reducing not just material waste, but also process and resource waste by identifying and cutting non-value added activities is important for OMs.

Development & Manufacturing Time

OMs rely on the success of the engineering and manufacturing teams more than any other. It then becomes a high priority for operations managers to prioritize performance at the highest levels from these teams. Taking customer feedback and turning that around to a product change with the quickest rate and reproducibility is key for any OM.

Tools & Technology

OMs should investigate and actively seek out tools and new technology that helps them implement their quality, efficiency, and collaboration initiatives. Instead of looking at 10 different tools that do ten things within your value chain, look for solutions that are able to take all your engineering, manufacturing, and business requirements into one place.

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Cost-Quality Index

Every activity in the company entails cost. OMs need to be on the lookout to keep costs down without under-investing, while keeping quality consistently improving. Sometimes cost comes as a result of an expensive rework or redesign, or resources become too expensive due to losing out on a big order: OMs need to prioritize the balance between how much they spend in prioritizing process improvement and what kind of quality they get out of that investment.

Quality Improvement

Maintaining and guaranteeing high quality is not a one-off endeavor. It is a mark of a good process that hinges its success on maintaining visibility at all tiers within the supply chain. Quality should be tracked and measured at design, manufacturing, supply, and process levels and OMs need to make this a high, if not top, priority.

Consolidate Multiple Sites

Companies that run multiple sites producing different parts or the same parts for different configurations. If each site uses their own database, cataloging system, trackers, and process optimization strategies, the company loses the ability to maintain quality across the board. Consolidating all sites on to a single database and system that allows global visibility and traceability. 

Vendor & Supplier Integration

Vendors and Suppliers often get their own system of tracking for Condition of Supply, requirements and order forecasts, status of internal tasks, and production & supply lead-times. These details often get lost in emails and excel sheets. OMs need to find a way to consolidate their interactions with vendors and suppliers into one platform.

The Secret Sauce

There is always more you can do to drive your success: Sometimes throwing everything isn't enough and you need to be on the lookout for new things you need to do. OMs should look for customer feedback, analyze KPIs, analyze their performance and engage their own collaborative creativity to not only stay ahead of competition, but also to become an industry leader.

Do you agree with our list? What's your top priority? 

If you liked reading this post, you will definitely like reading the Top 5 Questions You Should Ask About Your Software Vendor.

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