What are Business Operations?

By: First Union | Date:

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What are Business Operations?

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Business operations tend to point to all of the activities and business processes that firms engage in daily to generate income. It takes all involved with a company, generally speaking, to ensure that operations run smoothly, from the employees to the managers, to the owners. Business operations as an umbrella term often encompass such tasksactivities as manufacturing, accounting, and marketing for example. In this article, we will look at what business operations represent in greater detail, by industry and consequently if operations are in some way flawed, what can be done to enhance these operations.

Business operations bear in mind, are not static. As the business grows, as changes are made, operations are thus impacted. For instance, let's say a small company expands, they then have to contend with adjusting their marketing strategy, and/or moving operations to a larger location, among other challenges of this nature. This is why managers and owners must stay on top of operations and make adjustments accordingly.

Understanding Business Operations within Different Industries

Operations in terms of different industries are of course going to vary. Different industries have different requirements. And different entities within those industries also have different requirements; that is to say, there is no one size fits all approach to understanding business operations, but looking at some of the more general operations tied to certain industries can offer some insights.

1. Retail

Within retail, you're going to find numerous moving parts and therefore several operations and processes that come into play for any retail-based company to be able to make a go of it. For example, they sell a product, so ensuring that inventory is consistently stocked and ready for the shelves is key to any retailer's success. How are you going to keep track of stock? Is there a system in place for doing so? And then, as regarding inventory, the business further needs to be able to pinpoint what sells and what consequently just sits. This then will help them to make decisions and maximize this particular facet of their overall operations.

2. Service/Hospitality industry

With most service-oriented businesses, there will be a front end and back end. In a restaurant, for example, there is the front of the house and back of the house. The front end, regardless of what type of service, is almost always going to be dealing with the customers. While backend ensures that the projects run smoothly and according to plan. Management represents the bridge between the two and the consequent operations they are responsible for. The front end should be focused on maximizing the customer experience and the delivery of goods/services. Whereas the back end carries out and executes that which ultimately does get delivered to the client or customer.

3. Manufacturing industry

Manufacturing companies essentially take raw inventory/materials and from these create a finished product which is in some form delivered to customers. A huge part of operations in this capacity is sourcing the raw material that goes into the end product. Streamlining operations to this end may mean looking for new or different suppliers. It also is about simplifying the shipping processes involved. And a huge part of facilitating operations within manufacturing is avoiding bottlenecks that otherwise hinder production times.

4. Technology industry

Technology is a rapidly growing sector; that said, finding and hiring the right people is going to be a central part of business operations here. And it doesn't stop there. Once you do recruit and hire the right candidates they need to be trained and mentored. The hiring of the training process needs to be seamless to get the most value from your new employees.

Another aspect of a technology firm's operations that is important to pay attention to is how employees collaborate. There are systems and apps designed to ensure everyone is on the same page and thus everyone is being as productive as possible without wasting valuable time.

Improving Business Operations

Pretty much any company does have room for improvement when it comes to business operations. Be it streamlining, speeding things up, trimming down, or better understanding how processes are playing out, it is important to make adjustments where glitches in the system are concerned.

1. Evaluate performance

Being able to measure how well your company is performing and thus how effective business operations are, is essential to the health of the company moving forward. How are you going to measure performance? Setting up milestones and then evaluating how well the company did upon achieving these is one way. Such goals though need to be realistic and actionable. There should be a measurement associated that can thereby tell you how well you did and whether or not you were able to reach that objective.

2. Stay up to date

As with anything, there are trends within industries. Staying on top of these trends and integrating that which works with your business model is only going to help you. This may mean adopting new technology to enhance operations; it may mean innovations that enable you to dramatically cut costs. The other thing to keep in mind and stay up to date on are any new regulations that come into play within your industry. Maintaining compliance is critical.

3. Streamline processes

As noted earlier, sometimes it is all about streamlining those processes and making the company more efficient. This could mean again updating technology, investing in new software, and/or equipment that allows you to facilitate certain tasks. Automating various tasks is hugely efficient and will enable the company to become overall more productive.

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