David Miller, Manager of Operations – Americas
Operations can mean different things to different companies, but here it can be defined as procurement, manufacturing, warehousing, distribution and logistics, or anything outside of sales, technical and finance.
To better understand how operations work in conjunction with other areas of a company, let’s picture a watch. The hands of the watch show the time, just as finance shows us where a company is financially. Next, if you look at the face and windows of the watch, you’ll see that they are usually bright and shiny…designed to draw people in and make them want to purchase. This is easily compared to the sales force of a company. On the surface, those are the two primary components of a watch. If you were to open it up, however, you would see a number of springs, gears and levers, all working away to keep the watch accurate. When everything is working as intended, the hands keep moving and the watch remains a valuable asset. If, however, operations is not functioning as designed, the watch doesn’t function and everything stops.
Leaving the watch analogy behind, it is critical that everything in operations be properly planned from start to finish. Each position works with the others to make each one better at what they do. Operations is not meant to be the focal point of any company – our role is to be the silent, efficient function that keeps all of the other areas running smoothly.
If Operations is doing our job, we are the first and last line of defense when it comes to cost, overhead and labor. Operations needs to ensure that we are procuring products at the lowest possible price, manufacturing at the highest possible quality, and shipping orders in full and on time, regardless of the amount of notice given to us by the customer. We must be fluid in our movement to ensure that we are supporting the company in every way needed, and it is in this aspect of things that companies are made or broken. Operations represent a substantial cost to the company, but when it is properly funded and configured, it ensures a lifetime of success.
Operations must be as precise as a high-end timepiece. All the cogs, springs, gears and levers must move as one to ensure the movement of the hands and dials, or the watch runs the risk of being discarded. It can be full of flash and sparkle, but if it doesn’t work, it’s no good to anyone.
When it comes to Operations, which would you rather be viewed as a second-hand disposable watch or as a Rolex?