Operations Management Essay

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Operations management (OM) is the synergetic group of business activities responsible for developing, implementing,  operating,  managing, and improving business processes aiming at transforming  resources (i.e., inputs)  into  products   and  services  (outputs). OM is closely related to the process of value creation within  a company; therefore,  it is essential  to  success in business. Inputs cover designs, specifications, energy, materials, shop floor workers, management, and more. The transformation is intrinsically related to the nature of the business and can be physical (e.g., manufacturing),  the result of an exchange of monetary value (e.g., retail), informational (e.g., an Internet Service Provider), a change in location (e.g., delivery system), and even psychophysiologic (e.g., a movie or healthcare). Naturally, outputs depend on the type of transformation and can vary from goods (e.g., a car) to sensations  (e.g., listening to a live concert).  Ultimately, OM is about assuring optimum value creation through  efficient and  effective use  of resources  to deliver the best products and services.

The roots of OM go as far back as the Industrial Revolution (i.e., the 17th century), when our capacity to produce  goods was multiplied  by many times, mostly through  the introduction of machines. Later, the same machines enabled the so-called scientific management  era in the early 20th century to develop. Careful analysis, in-depth  study, and precise design made  possible  the  mass  production of goods. The large amount  of quantitative  methods  developed to support  decision  making and problem  solving generated  a new scientific field—management  science. The World War II effort helped make many of these methods  more sophisticated  and, more importantly, helped create another  foundation  of modern  operations management—computational methods.

The 1980s increased pressure  for quality, productivity, and efficiency. Hence, there were large investments  in  Just-in-Time, Total  Quality  systems,  and reengineering. Environmental issues, globalization of the supply chain and competition, process integration (e.g., enterprise  resource planning [ERP]), mass customization,  the Basic Research in Computer  Science system, and the internet  have made OM even more challenging and sophisticated in recent years.

OM covers the core of a firm’s whole value chain from developing products  and services to delivering products  and services. More specifically, OM incorporates development, production,  and delivery of products  and services. Operations  strategy, forecasting, development  of products  and services, process management,  location and layout, supply chain management, and aggregate planning are all examples of activities under the OM umbrella.


  1. Christopher W. Craighead and Jack Meredith, “Operations Management  Research: Evolution and Alternative Future Paths,” International  Journal of Operations  and  Production  Management  (v.28/7–8,  2008);
  2. Danreid and N. Sanders, Operations Management: An Integrated Approach (John Wiley & Sons, 2007);
  3. Heizer and C. Render, Operations Management (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2008);
  4. P. Ritzman et al., Foundations of Operations Management  (Pearson  Prentice  Hall, 2007);
  5. W. Taylor and R. S. Russell, Operations Management: Creating Value Along the Supply Chain (John Wiley & Sons, 2009).

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