Operations Management for Startups


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Operations management is a very complex field involving logistics, supply chain and even product development. From product pricing and the stage gate process for product development, to the revolutionary A3 report technique originated by Toyota, many different disciplines within operations management are present in today’s workplace. Highly skilled and educated individuals are applying these disciplines to ensure their organizations are operating in the most efficient way possible. To take it one step further, certified Six Sigma graduates are applying lean manufacturing practices that most of us have never even heard of yet create efficiencies in production that are world class. The point is, operations management isn’t as easy as creating a checklist for processes.

Or is it?

Perspective is paramount. If you’re working for a world-leader in tube fittings where specific production tolerances and manufacturing best practices must be met, then you bet it’s important to be highly educated or skilled in that specific profession. But if you are starting a new business and need a simple checks and balances for order processing – by all means keep it as simple as possible.

That isn’t to say that education and skill aren’t just as important to startups because they are. It simply means that keeping the process as simple as possible (to start) is to your advantage. Don’t overcomplicate things just for the sake of making them complex; it will do you and your staff a disservice.

After working for five years in business operations for a startup company, I found that it was always easiest to keep it as simple as possible. The operations department was responsible for order processing, purchasing, accounts receivable and payable. It may come as a shock but a simple coversheet breaking out the major steps helped to create more efficiencies in the process than I could have ever imagined. Taking it one step further by developing standardized business processes within those steps removed any doubt in the process by the staff responsible.

Think about your processes. Ask yourself these three questions the next time you process an order or record a receivable. It could help free up your time to focus on other areas of your business.

1.    Are there unnecessary steps to how you manage business operations?
2.    Are they overly complex just for the sake of being complex?
3.    What can you cut out of the process to get the same results?



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