5 min read
Sep 03, 2015
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How to Create an Operations Management Strategy for Small Businesses

We bring together a range of useful tips on how small businesses can create an operations management strategy.

Karen McCandlessAnalyst

Effective operations management is at the heart of any well run company, but small businesses often disregard it, feeling that it doesn’t apply to them. What you may not realize, is that the concepts and principles (and the benefits) behind operations management are applicable to all businesses - no matter what size.

If you run a small business, and you’re struggling to manage the resources you need for your products and services, then deploying an operations management strategy and cloud-based software can help. There are a lot of benefits to gain from doing this, including:

  • Decreasing the costs of producing products and services

  • Increasing customer satisfaction through good quality and service

  • Boosting revenue

  • Increasing operational effectiveness

  • Providing the basis for future innovation by building a solid base of operations skills and knowledge.

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The evolution of operations management

In the past, operations management was generally thought to be more applicable to manufacturing or the service industry. In manufacturing, this was about managing materials, for example the space to store them, the flow through the manufacturing process, the quantity of product to produce, and the quality of output. Meanwhile, service operations management is concerned with scheduling workers to handle customer demand.

However, companies these days are increasingly producing high-tech products, customized solutions or knowledge intensive services, which cannot be effectively managed by traditional tools that were used for manufacturing and service operations management.

“Instead, companies need integrated flexible cloud-based software with a high emphasis on agile project management tools to effectively manage the transformation process,” says Oonagh Mc Nerney, CEO of Sapenta. “Add to that knowledge management tools for adequately capturing, storing, sharing and disseminating key information that can lead to greater innovation and productivity.”

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Siloed processes and tools

While there are a plethora of project management tools available today, these are often disparate, disconnected pieces of software operating in silos. Maybe your company is one of the many that manages their operations through a combination of manual processes. These could involve the use of Excel spreadsheets for staff planning and time tracking, which operates completely separately from your project management software and leave request management tools.

Think of all the time you spend manually connecting the dots, and inputting information while remembering to keep everything updated and in sync just to manage the delivery of your solutions and services. Now imagine all the time you can save by connecting your operations management tools to company inputs such as staff, materials/consumables, and knowledge, as well as billing and finance.

“What you need is an app that combines staff planning with project management, as well as leave, purchases and expenditure management and does this all in one platform,” says Mc Nerney. “The Sapenta Operations Management Solution is a holistic digital platform that connects all the operations functions for these companies. It consists of integrated modules and tools that connect everything over one unique cloud platform.

“These modules include Staff (for staff planning, time tracking, and leave management), Knowledge Management (skills management, knowledge repository, and sharing), Infrastructure (lab and equipment management), Project Management (Gantt, Kanban task manager, reports), Back Office (purchases, expenses, billing), and Travel (travel request and booking, and expense management).”

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The move to the cloud

By transitioning from manual to fully integrated, cloud-based apps and processes, small businesses can transform to ‘digital’ enterprises, whereby everything is automated, connected and data-driven.

“This transition allows companies to save time, increase efficiencies and to enable operations management based on a data-driven approach,” says Mc Nerney. “Data is a hugely powerful tool for business, as it can be exploited and analyzed by the latest data mining tools in order to provide invaluable insights to company management. It leverages increased visibility and instant access to real-time information through visualization and reporting tools about staff performance, progress in the implementation of active solution and service contracts, potential bottlenecks, budget spend, cash-flow, etc.

The effect this has on operations management is that it improves operational performance and provides intelligent recommendations to enable better decision making, and using the right cloud-based apps is crucial.

“The Sapenta cloud-based Operations Management Solution enables SMEs to quickly and seamlessly upgrade to a new set of rules for operations, elevated performance and increased competitiveness,” Mc Nerney concludes. “It is an enabler for rapid digital transformation in small businesses.”

This article was brought to you in collaboration with operations management software provider Sapenta.

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