Inspect What You Expect: Operations

“Watch the little things; a small leak will sink a great ship.” – Benjamin Franklin

This week’s focus on inspecting what you expect out of different organizations within the business takes us to operations. If you’d like to look back at any prior weeks, so far we’ve discussed salesmarketingcustomer successfinance and human resources.

The operations department of different organizations most closely resembles the central nervous system of the human body. Your nervous system is in charge of coordinating and regulating all of the bodily functions, while the operations unit manages and oversees all essential processes, resources and activities within the business to ensure smooth functioning and success.

It’s the central control hub that keeps everything running efficiently, just as the central nervous system orchestrates the body to move in harmony and maintain its health and functionality.

So where does one start when assessing how well an operations department is performing?

#1. Efficiency 

This is the hallmark of most organizations that are performing at a high level but none more so than operations. When an operations department is performing at its best, everything is in sync and running with clockwork precision.

Efficiency in operations saves time, reduces costs and enhances the business’s ability to meet customer demands.

Start here and don’t move on until this is checked off.

#2. Process Optimization

Now that we’ve established and confirmed that the organization is moving efficiently, it’s time to make sure that the processes in place are optimized.

For example, when building a car, Henry Ford found that instead of having a single person build an entire car, it was a more optimized process to have many workers build specific pieces of the car.

Even though each person was working as efficiently as possible on the car individually, the assembly line allowed for cars to be built in less time.

Fixing the efficiency is like plugging holes in the bottom of your boat. Optimizing the process is now adding a coat of wax to the bottom of it to reduce friction and enhance its speed.

If you don’t plug the leaks first, you’re still gonna sink, no matter how much wax you add.

#3. Key Metrics and Data Analysis

Sticking with the open sea comparisons, the data your business pulls in and captures is your compass. Unfortunately, just because you have a compass does not mean you’re going the right way.

Confirming that your key metrics are aligned with the overarching business goals and objectives is vital. Without it, you’re just a business with a cool compass, lost at sea, or even worse, heading in the wrong direction.

#4. Resource Allocation and Management

Inspecting whether the proper amount of resources are being used for different purposes is rigorous and can get into the weeds, quickly. It has the ability to improve the business’s overall efficiency and drastically affect the bottom line.

The art and balance of resource management ensures that the business has what it needs, when it needs it without excess or scarcity.

#5. Risk Management and Contingency Planning

Operations departments should have proper risk management services and contingency plans in place. It is important to inspect these on a regular basis as the past few years have taught us, anything is possible.

Having to consult your risk management plans is never fun, but in cases when they are needed, having a plan in place to start from is a heck of a lot better than coming up with one on the fly.

Your body struggles to function when even one minor thing goes wrong in your central nervous system. If the messages and sensory items your body typically picks up are behind or delayed your whole body gets thrown out of whack.

Same goes for your operations department. When it doesn’t perform efficiently, everything else in the business suffers.

Inspect what you expect out of your operations, or suffer the consequences.

Let’s get to work.