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Why Study Operations Management?

My background includes vice president, director, general manager, leasing, and marketing manager in the commercial real estate industry.

The study of operations management will give you information on why some things work and some things do not work.

The study of operations management will give you information on why some things work and some things do not work.

Why Should I Go Into Business Operations Management?

This is a question often asked by students when they first enter my classroom. The answer is very simple: In operations management, the student will find tools and information to become the best manager possible. Many of the management tools learned in operations management may be applied to personal life and other disciplines.

You will be more successful in life as well if you know how to use these tools.

This operations management course will introduce you to basic business ideas and their implementations. The teacher cannot hope to detail each concept. The teacher’s goal here is to make you aware of as many concepts as possible in order to prepare you for many varied career pursuits.

The teacher has no idea which of the concepts covered in the course will be stridently embraced by the company you receive employment with. The teacher may hope to introduce you to that concept, so you may have a moment of clarity, “Oh yes, we touched on that in operations management,” and with that, you have a stepping stone to exploring the concept in depth.

Further, my answer is wrapped in 30 years of working as a business manager under different titles but always as the manager of things and people.

Management has been around since ancient times. It was retooled to fit the needs of the Industrial Revolution, and most recently, it is being re-tooled to work in the information age.

Questions and Concerns an Operations Managers Might Ask

The manager is intimately concerned with all or some of the following:

  • What does the role of manager entail? What may I, as a manager, do or not do?
  • The manager is being called to create a sustainable company or department. How?
  • What is the product or service that I am dealing with?
  • How do I make or buy this product using the best techniques?
  • How do learning curves impact the success of my business?
  • The facility location and layout are tantamount to the success of my business. How do I know what is best?
  • How is a service business different from a goods business?
  • How important is mass customization?
  • Where is my product made? How do international and local laws work or not work together on this?
  • How is my product shipped to me, and how do I ship my product to the consumer?
  • What are concepts like lean and sustainable, poka-yoke, and Six Sigma? Do they apply to me? (At the very least, how to not look stupid on the job….know these key business terms!)
  • What is business simulation? How does it work for me?
  • How do I schedule employees?
  • How do I integrate the financial needs of my company or business into everyday approaches?
  • Where do I go to find answers to these questions?

Here is a brief discussion of some topics we will study:

How Do We Manage?

Daniel Wren, in his book, Evolution of Management Thought, details an interesting history of management anthology from ancient civilizations (Far East, Greece, Roman, and European), the Industrial Revolution, and systematic management. The book also delves into the history of people management and metrics in management.

There are some very sophisticated publications to aid you in being a better manager. The study of operations management is a beginning.

The study of operations management will give you information on why some things work and some things do not work. It will also provide you with modalities to implement in your own style.

In essence, the student of operations management learns the evolution of management.


Globalization is a current reality whereby products and services are made, traded, sold, and marketed on a global basis.

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“Think locally. Act globally.’ This adage is used so often that it seems trite. It is more relevant every day. Why?

You are local, but the global market impacts you every day.

  • How is a product moved from country to country? The answer to this must consider various rules and regulations from country to country, cultural norms, and the raw materials and people skills in each country.
  • What are the environmental concerns in various countries? How do we transport goods; shipping, train, truck, air?
  • Will you buy raw materials from another country? Will you sell your product(s) across borders?

An understanding of the World Trade Organization is a key to understanding Globalization.

Supply Chain Management

Locations Logistics

How do you deliver goods, information, and services to customers, whether they are business users or individual users? The revolution of quality of this service and the metrics provide an excellent road map to maximizing your business and minimizing your costs.

What does the business person consider when deciding how to send or receive their products or raw materials? There are models and historical information to guide the business person.

Project Management

This is an excellent career pursuit all by itself.

However, in operations management, you receive an overview of the detail, organization, and metrics of project management. You will use this in many projects over the scope of your life. The business manager interfaces often with a project manager and must have an idea of the scope of work a project manager undertakes in order to manage both the operation they are managing and the project manager with his/her project.

A project may be anything from a multi-million dollar bridge or a marketing event such as building a sandcastle in a building! Often project management is thought of by neophytes as some type of construction project. If you have ever gone through an office software re-organization, you will appreciate the need for good project management! This holds for nearly all undertakings!

SWOT means a statement of work. What is the SWOT for a class? What is the SWOT for your next household move?


The ability to forecast the behavior of the market, your customer, or the supply chain is very valuable. There are mathematical methodologies and anecdotal methods for forecasting supply chain behavior.

What are the seasonality needs and uses of a product? Supply and demand issues are dealt with in forecasting. How do you track these demands? There are several mathematical methods. An understanding of these methods is covered in operations management.

A commercial retail manager can forecast sales for Christmas once the June orders are placed and shipping is anticipated. The documented shipping information and predictions will provide information. Even though buyers for stores will not tell you their confidential buys, as made to their vendors, you (if you have studied the discipline of operations management) will know to take a look at the fore-casted international shipping activity. Only those at the top in their field know this.

Computers and the Internet and the Cloud

As in all aspects of our lives, the computer, Internet, and cloud systems are changing everything.

Operations management hopes to give you an overview of the hardware, software, methods, jobs, and pitfalls of these systems.

These issues change often at lightning speed. The need here is to have a good solid understanding of the basics.

Environmental Concerns, Sustainable Concerns, and Going Green

Going green in business (and your personal life) is both responsible stewardship of the world we live in and an enhancement to the bottom line.

What are other businesses doing? Is this a business that you would want to enter into?

Human Resources

Human Resources deals with the needs of the business interfaced with legalities, and the basic behavior of people. People have various expectations and behaviors based on countries and industries.

  • There are big cultural differences in human resources. Are you prepared?
  • What are the styles of management? Which styles work best? How does this impact job design, work measurement, and production process?
  • These series of articles will cover both textbook subjects and current events that impact management on a global scale.
  • What topic in Management interests you the most?

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


khush on December 02, 2016:

what are my chances to get better salary after doing Operations Management

Coopis on December 14, 2011:

Jordan Cooper Op. 300-001

The mass Globalization that is currently taking place by multinational corporations and businesses of all sizes is staggering. Companies are sometimes scrambling into emerging markets that were once considered too unstable to support business.

The role of a skilled operations manager developing business in emerging markets is paramount to success. Managing foreign employees, overseeing contracts with companies that have never done business with western businesses, understanding the logistics of these new areas. All these things are vital to a successful business in emerging markets. To capitalize businesses will need the best operations management.

eestes66 on October 25, 2011:

I think a better question is, Why not study Operations Management? Every concept we have covered is important to succesful management. Not only to management but these skills are important to owning a business as well.

Meilin66 on October 16, 2011:

This article explains very clearly why we study Operations Management. I agree that Operations Management is very important. No matter whether you work for a company or You build your own business, Operations Management provides lots of useful business ideas and tools. Operations Management also explains very well why some ideas work and some ideas don’t work. All these valuable ideas will lead us to be more successful in our business careers.

Cameronlybrook on October 05, 2011:

At first i was a little confused about how this class may help me in the business that intend to pursue. However in the last few chapters we talked about Human Resources, ambience and other techniques that are used at firms to allow them to be effective in selling products. I think this is the most interesting because I love reading on how firms have tricks that they use to manipulate consumers into buying more products. Owning my own business has been the only thing that i have wanted to do since I was a little boy and with this class I am learning very important skills that will help me be a great entrepreneur.

Iris DuFresne on September 18, 2011:

This class seems very interesting. I like the fact that it can be applied to anything.

BusinessOpsMngmnt (author) from USA on September 07, 2011:

tele 6r life,

Glad you are enjoying all the facets we are talking about. There are literally thousands of books on management out there. Hopefully, we can cover some concepts that will be helpful to you.

BusinessOpsMngmnt (author) from USA on September 07, 2011:


Wait until you take Marketing 322! The demographics of an area pretty much dictate what biz will and will not be there!

Also, go to a very wealthy area like Rodeo Drive in Hollywood or a less wealthy area like Scottsdale, AZ (don't tell them I said they were less wealthy, they would be upset) and look at the retail and restaurants there.

The hierarchy is no mystery. It is money as in 'follow the money.'

tele r6 life on September 06, 2011:

It's pretty crazy to me that there is so much that goes into management! Working as a server under a manager a few years older than me, I automatically assumed that management was more a practice of doing what works well than a detailed cognitive process full of strategy. I am excited to learn all about managing and I'm also interested to run what I have learned in class against the way that my place of employment is being managed.

amanley on September 06, 2011:

I think the only reason people created roads was to expand their business into the unknown world. Also I think expanding empires/kingdoms is an old form of operations management. If your empire is continuing to grow you need to obtain more land to support/feed the people within your empire.

Also I think that there is a hierarchy of which areas will receive better supplies of certain items. The lower the class you are in you won't be seeing a Bloomingdales around the block. You may see more goodwill's and thrift stores. More dollar stores as opposed to Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.

BusinessOpsMngmnt (author) from USA on September 06, 2011:

Frank, Your reference to Roman roads made me think about trains. Chicago is still the major train hub of all the United States. Most major train stations are designated by a number. That number is the miles from Chicago that station is! At least the older stations are still numbered that way, I am sure it changed as more train hubs grew.

The point is that roads can tell us quite a lot!

And thanks for the comment.

Frank Lucero on September 05, 2011:

It seems to me that Operational management effects many facets of our life's. I am intrigued to learn that is has been around since ancient times and this makes the topic even more interesting. I could imagine the Romans using all the roads they built to support the supply chain of the Roman Empire. This were the saying all roads led to Rome came to be because of business.

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