Six trends in operations management for 2021
2020 was an extremely challenging year for businesses in every industry and in every country across the world. Even those organisations that were able to find a way to continue to operate successfully through the pandemic found that their ways of working were impacted - often negatively - by Covid-19.
But 2021 is a new year and companies are cautiously optimistic for something better. A big part of this could come in the way that businesses change their operations to deal with the challenges of the pandemic.
What does good operations management look like in 2021?
This year, businesses will look to operations management to find more effective ways of working and be productive. Through the Covid-19 pandemic, it is essential to be as productive and cost-efficient as possible. Good operations management has an important role to play in this and will be important for the success of companies.
Here we take a look at six trends that are going to be vital for good operations management over the course of 2021.
Restating the importance of communication
Communication is a hot topic for businesses. Once again, we can blame Covid-19 for some of the communication challenges it has created - but it is necessary to overcome them in order to be successful. Good communication can have a positive effect on all aspects of operations: from productivity and cost-efficiency to real-world problem-solving.
And this all shows up where it counts: better communication alone has the potential to improve a company’s bottom line by 10% of more.
Investing in process automation
For businesses to be more effective, they need to be more productive. Some companies assume this means that staff need to work harder - but this isn’t the issue. Increasing productivity is achieved by optimising operations, and this is where business process automation comes in.
According to process specialists Document Options, process automation involves the streamlining and improvement of processes, which can increase efficiency within the company at the same time as minimising costs.
Essentially it is taking time-inefficient repetitive tasks away from workers and automating them with software. This leaves staff with more time to carry out more valuable work for the company, while still achieving everything that they had previously done.
It is the case that businesses have far more access to data than ever before - and it is important to make sure that this data is being utilised. With software capturing information not only on customer habits but also the ways in which staff work, it can provide opportunities to learn about more effective ways of working.
There are many different applications for data - whether it is analysing customer behaviour on your website to improve conversion rates, employing temporary staffing software to track and place new hires, or more effectively ordering stock through information on buying habits from previous years.
Value the employee experience
The way to get as much as possible out of employees is to ensure that they are happy. The employee experience matters because it can have a huge effect on morale and motivation, which in turn influences productivity and creativity.
In 2021, operations management needs to be more employee-centric than ever before, looking for ways to make sure that employees are able to work to the best of the ability while remaining happy.
Reaffirming health and safety
As 2020 has shown, committing to better health and safety practice can be not only a smart idea, but also one which is vital to the running of a business. It is important that operations managers keep a close track on health and safety incidents and find ways to ensure that the numbers do not start to creep up.
Employees must have easy access to the health and safety information they need. This is especially important if they are now working remotely. Jonas Østergaard Pedersen, International SEM Manager of EcoOnline also reiterated, "Safety culture must be the cornerstone of any health and safety program. This is because it serves as the foundation for all health and safety achievements. To achieve this, an organisation must work to change the attitudes and behaviours of its workforce."
Focus on the change
Covid-19 has created huge swathes of change - and while many see this a negative, there are also positives and opportunities. No market is unaffected; demand for products and services has altered significantly, and this is undoubtedly important for the way that your business operates.
Operations managers need to make sure that they are focused on understanding how the market has altered over the past 12 months - and use this to lead the direction of the changes in operations.