Building Your Management Toolkit: Operations Management

Building Your Management Toolkit: Operations Management

As a professional manager you need to be prepared to manage all aspects of your organisation's operations. A thorough grounding in current operations management perspectives can help you build competitive advantage, leading to improved customer satisfaction through products and processes that add more value.

Paul Butler from Aston Business School explains how you can improve your operations management thinking.

What is the best approach to managing today’s increasingly more complex business operations?  In “Competitive Advantage”, his classic 1980 work on the subject, Michael Porter’s view of the Value Chain focused on two kinds of activities that have to be managed and measured:

  • Primary Activities - inbound logistics, manufacturing, outbound logistics, marketing and sales, and after sales
  • Support Activities - infrastructure, human resources, technology development and procurement.

Porter’s focus reflected the practice of the time: operations management centred on the pressing task of reaching a successful conclusion to a specific time period.  The main concern then was primarily planning and controlling operations.  Of course, this perspective continues to be invaluable, but nowadays there is also a strategic need for operations to play a broader role in achieving the objectives of the business as a whole.

This more strategic role means that today’s professional operations managers must be able to set and realise specific objectives that support those of the business itself.  The challenge now is to be able keep the operational wheels well-oiled and turning over, while simultaneously delivering performance improvements.

What does this mean to you as a professional manager?  First of all, in addition to production planning and control, you will need to become familiar with operations improvement, often known as ‘Operations Strategy’.  Secondly, you’ll need to acquire new skills and knowledge about a whole new range of interconnected and related topics, including:

  • Having a thorough understanding of the improvement process from analysis to implementation
  • Applying new management tools to help you control quality
  • Benchmarking to help you develop realistic quality targets and gap analyses
  • Identifying specific actions that will lead to quality improvements and increase capability.

Of course you’ll need to do all of this while maintaining the day-to-day operations of the business - setting the production programme, reviewing stock policies, making capacity adjustments etc.

If you’re ready to face the challenge, being able to apply these techniques will help accelerate your career as a manager.   Our new Professional Managers’ Award is a practice-oriented programme that introduces you to a robust toolkit directly applicable to your day job.  Backed by world class academic rigour, this toolkit will enable you to manage confidently, and make better, more informed decisions.

Pragmatic real life examples and case studies will enable you to develop skills that support you now and into the future.  Topics are delivered to meet your individual requirements. In the Operations Management module you will use your experience of your own organisation’s approaches to operations planning and implementation, and learn how to manage and improve these approaches using new tools and frameworks.

To find out more about how our Aston Professional Managers’ Award can help you build a management toolkit that accelerates your career, email us on, telephone us on +44(0)121 204 3160 or visit