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Fundamental Operations Success

I’ve been an Operations Executive for 15 years. During this time, I’ve overseen many different product lines and have overcome various challenges delivering these products. The success behind delivering a quality product can be achieved in many ways. It can involve in-depth levels of creativity, masterful planning, and even sometimes falling on your face and learning something new. I could write a book about successful operations, but I’ll touch on some fundamental key factors to running a successful operation in this brief summary.

At any level of management, you must have a productive team. This applies to everyone, from a junior manager overseeing a small team of employees producing the product itself all the way to the highest levels of operations management. You may get lucky and land a position in a company with a great team, or you may have a team that requires more direction and improvement. Either way, you must enhance your team’s abilities and instill your successful management philosophies. Aligning your vision with your team results in achieving goals and completing projects on time.

Planning and forecasting is a trait that the best operations executives excel at. Being able to do this well can take any size production unit to the next level. Depending on your business, forecasting can be challenging at times, but historical metrics and trends can always be used with some certainty to project future volumes. Knowing your team’s ability is a critical datum in planning. For example, if your product is to assemble a bicycle and you apply an assembly line production approach, you should know how long it takes to attach the tires, secure the handlebars, affix the gears, and apply the logos. Having this knowledge gives you the precise amount of man-hours required to fully assemble the bicycle. Creating base production levels and applying the correct amounts of employees to tasks is necessary to deliver high volumes of product.

When discussing operations success, efficiency is one of the primary goals. Lean processing is key for profitability. I’m sure you’ve all heard the famous adage “Time is money.” This is very true when it comes to company profit. Every time an employee has a pause in between processing steps, it costs money. If these unnecessary pauses aren’t eliminated as much as possible, the loss of money can add up very quickly. Efficiency doesn’t just relate to how your production process is set up; it also refers to systems and equipment. If part of your process requires a machine, you will not want one that’s ten years old and breaks every two weeks. The same concept applies to technology. A workflow system can make or break the profitability of a product. Automating touches using technology as much as possible within your company’s limit should be a focus while overseeing your production area.

Another key concept to operations success is delegation, or properly assigning tasks to others. Have you ever had a direct report have difficulty executing your orders? If you’ve been in this field for any significant amount of time, I’m sure you have.  When you ask these junior managers/leaders why they can’t execute, they will almost always come back with how much work is on their plate. This can only mean one thing; they are not delegating. I have seen this dozen of times over my career, and it can be resolved very easily with coaching/mentoring/training. Quite often, it’s a trust factor with the manager and/or their own lack of ability to train a junior on a task properly. Exceptional operations managers spend most of their time delegating and following up to get tasks completed.  Mastering the art of delegation enables management to accomplish several tasks throughout the workday.

Hopefully, at some point, you climb your company ladder to a point where you transition from managing to leading. This means moving away from process management, day-to-day in-depth work monitoring, and executing your VP or SVP’s plan because you are the VP or SVP. Leading a team at this level means that you possess the ability to inspire and communicate your plan and vision for the future of your division.  All the above points do not come without various challenges. Excelling on these points as much as humanly possible is the goal day in and day out. I tell my direct reports three things: Never lose your edge, never get too comfortable, and strive for perfection.

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About The Author

Daniel Nordmark, VP File Services

Daniel Nordmark is the Vice President of File Services at Nationwide Title Clearing, Inc. (NTC) and has been in the role for four years. He has been with NTC for eighteen years and has held several executive roles during his tenure with the company. Nordmark specializes in creating divisional stability and has strong organizational skills, as his background is in organizational management and project management.

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