How to Become a Business Operations Manager

One sees it on job posting boards from time to time—business operations manager. But what do they do and what are their responsibilities? In short, anything that a company does is an operation. A business operations manager oversees everything from employee salaries to cost of outsourcing. For the much longer and more detailed answer, read the article below. It outlines duties, specializations, education, and approximate salary range, as well as provide other, similar job titles.

Basic Duties and Special Projects

Operations within any company, however large or small, tend to be the vital heart of how business is done. Business operations managers make hard decisions, such as hiring and firing on a larger scale, policy decisions that help employees to work more efficiently, and how a company is structured when that structure impedes the movement of capital in the proper direction. For example, if departments are excessively siloed or closed in and competitive with one another, this may or may not suit the needs of the company. They will therefore either make decisions that reduce the siloed departments and encourage them to work together, or they will eliminate them and restructure the internal workings.

This is because any business is determined by its processes—what it does and how it does it—and depends upon smooth operations in order to move forward and make money. A business manager will often examine these operations or processes, see how individual employees complete the processes, and how many of them there are. She or he will then use expert knowledge and hard data to determine in which departments fat may be cut or where more help is required. All business runs overhead, and part of this expense is what money is being paid to employees for the work they do. It should be fair, and that is part of an Operations Manager’s duty to ensure. However, it does weigh against what the business is bringing in.

Equipment must be understood and the quality of that machinery must be weighed against the profits or prospective profits of the business. This goes beyond the machinery itself to all the items it will require to work in top condition. The process or thing a machine does and the machinery itself are inseparable. Operations managers must analyze this, know if there is better technology that could save the company money, and know who to go to in order to get the best price for the machinery.

While efficiency is key to what operations managers do, financial efficiency is almost if not more important. People often want things fast, well-done, and cheap. However, managers know one can have two of these three criteria. It’s a testament to their deep knowledge about the industry that they can evaluate which of these criteria to set to the side in each situation. They may hedge their bets by knowing which vendors to go to for machinery who will give them favorable terms, which products can be substituted, and even which departments may benefit from an overhaul in terms of hiring fewer, but more skilled, employees. They are constantly doing research about newer technology and more efficient ways to structure business.

Another general duty is to understand the needs of the business as pertain to location. While some organizations don’t require a prime location to attract business and the talent needed for successful operation, others cannot survive without it. It’s a primary task of an operations manager to understand the needs of the business, how place plays into it, and what sort of sacrifices must be made in order to obtain the right positioning.

As one can see, this is not the job for someone looking to move on, to progress. This is the ultimate position with little mobility once one attains it, primarily because it is the result of in-depth knowledge about people and their work, the machines they use to do their jobs, and the positioning of the business within the larger context of society. It requires excellent communication skills, both listening to and imparting of knowledge. A business operations manager is always learning more about the business of their respective company and those upon which it depends for machinery, labor, raw materials, and other things.

But descending from high-level oversight, knowing about people is also a large part of the job. As an operations manager, one must understand the policies of a particular entity, how they influence the day-to-day workings of a company and how they compare with others in the field. How are the policies communicated to the workforce and enacted by them? There is more than a bit of human resources related to this job. Operations managers can shape the policy, but they must have the pulse of the overall industry firmly in mind when they do so. Working with HR software and the findings of HR managers, they tailor the workflow and task-oriented procedures of every department in order to maximize efficiency in a way that is sensible to those doing the procedures. This means a great deal of communication, whatever the size of the company, about the process.

Education Required

Become a Business Operations Manager

At minimum, one will need a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a salient field for the position. However, while it is excellent to also have an MBA, what most companies will look for in this position is experience. Having a track record of doing all the things that such a manager must do, with experience in delegating, research, savvy decisions, and excellent or incisive communication is worth as much or more than a structured and advanced degree. Because an operations manager must have a wide view, what many companies will want is not a single degree, but a number of certifications or workshops.

Certifications Available

PMI Risk Management Professional

This is rigorous and advanced coursework in the region of risk management, and its definitely a feather in one’s cap when it comes to consideration for a business operations management position. It will showcase an ability to assess risks to one’s organization, while also enhancing the position of that entity within the overall market landscape. The ability to render threats neutral and take advantage of opportunities is a rare skill, and one that most corporations want if they expect to push through the competition. Having this certification marks one out as a person of exceptionally long view, both in respect to risks and benefits. It shows that one will waste as little capital as possible during operations, and be wary of pitfalls in terms of business dealings, policy decisions, and labor management.

Certified Associate in Project Management

This is a course with a standardized exam that is recognized as a hallmark of project management. As a midlevel benchmark, this is an excellent tool to have. Project management is one of the aspects of any business operations professional. Showing that one has the ability to recognize and prioritize the most vital parts of any project, while keeping both the larger picture and the smallest of details in mind, is important. Because one doesn’t require a specialized license in order to sign up for this certification, it’s a great way to distinguish oneself but also accessible to those driven to succeed.

HR Certifications

Any certifications in this area that assist analysis are helpful. This is because HR practitioners plan—they assess strengths and weaknesses of departments, hiring needs or cutbacks, and other factors with their superiors. Having a certification in this field will prepare one for operations management on a fundamental level—by showing that one understands how businesses work in this way. Several certificates do require experience in an HR role for one year or more, unless the degree path taken by an individual is HR related. However, this is also one path towards being a business operations manager, which should be seen as an end or near-end goal phase. It’s about acquiring all the pieces through experience or education that will lead to this.

• Acts as a contact for various stakeholders and staff
• Performs operation HR functions
• Delivers HR expertise
• Requires 3 or more years of HR experience if one has less than a Bachelor’s degree
• Acts on policies or strategies outlined by superiors
• Those with a graduate degree need one year of HR experience or an HR-related degree
• Has a firm knowledge of SHRM’s Body of Competency and Knowledge.

• Defines and develops HR strategy
• Leads HR functions and initiatives
• Processes raw performance data
• Assesses organizational goals and aligns HR tactics
• 3-7 years of experience with HR-related work
• Has a good grasp of SHRM Body of Competency and Knowledge

• Program implementation
• Accountability with another HR professional within an entity
• Logistical/Tactical trajectory
• Focuses impact on the organization from within the HR department, as opposed to the organization as a whole
• Has HR work experience, but may lack the breadth and depth of more senior generalists
• Garners respect based on the use of guidelines and policies for decision making and the working knowledge of them

• Takes a wider view
• Ultimate accountability in the HR department
• Designs and plans, but does not implement
• Has a working breadth and depth knowledge of generalist HR practices with 6 to 8 years of experience.
• Works as a generalist in the organization
• Uses experience-based knowledge
• Understand the business as a whole
• Has a working understanding of all decisions made inside and out of the organization
• Manages influence within the organization
• Possesses superior negotiation and diplomatic skills
• Within the organization and the larger community, has a reputation for excellence

Certified Business Analyst Professional

This is a bit more in-depth than other certifications and requires one to fulfill certain requirements within a career framework before becoming eligible. In order to apply to take the exam, one must complete 7,500 hours of business analyst work over a ten-year period, with 3,600 hours being divided between four of six BABOK guide knowledge areas in 900-hour increments. As well, one must complete 35 hours of professional development over the last four years. If one wishes to attain this certification, one must do more than pass the test. In addition, two letters of reference must be supplied, a code of conduct agreement signed, and one must agree to the terms and conditions. However, having this as a stepping stone in one’s career trajectory is invaluable.

Areas of Specialization and Closely Related Careers

Business Operations Manager

Because a business operations manager is a master of all trades, it’s important to understand that there are many ways to becoming one, only one of which is a degree track. One might argue that in the weighting of education versus experience, education has its merits. However, experience and creating myriad relationships also holds a great deal of value.

Production Planner

This is a junior role to the master production scheduler and is also known as a production scheduler. While resolving production issues, they compile reports of status and performance to ensure that all standards and deadlines are being met.

Project Manager

PMs are those that plan, organize, and direct the actions for a specific project within an organization. They ensure that these projects are on budget, done in an efficient and timely manner, and within the scope of the original design.

Materials Manager

They oversee planning, acquisition, storing, control, and distribution of all products and materials according to company standards and requirements.

Business Analyst

These individuals work with companies to improve their systems and processes. Conducting research and analysis, they also come up with solutions for problems and help to introduce these systems to their clients.

Master Production Scheduler

This individual is responsible for scheduling, coordinating, monitoring, and planning products through the entire production cycle. They may contract line item delivery schedules or craft special plans to work around unforeseen shortages or crises. In addition, they integrate all the schedules into an integrated whole.

Operations Analyst

They conduct internal audits and identify the flaws or defects in the operations of a business model. Research, investigating work flows, and ensuring that the business is following all standards and procedures are all a part of this role.

Quality Control Specialist

Working as a part of a manufacturing team, this individual ensures that defective parts are removed from production or repaired and tested. They keep records of all defective items.

Salary Ranges

How to Be a Business Operations Manager

According to US News and World Reports, the median salary for a business operations manager is $100,780, with the lower 25 percent making on average $65,660 or less and the upper 25 percent bringing in $157,430 or more. Likely, the range is depended upon the number of years as a business operations manager has been active, her or his range of credentials, and other factors.

While it is certainly not a straightforward path, it is one of many, branching channels that lead to the ultimate goal. One could take any or as many varied pathways, striving for excellence and deep knowledge in each, and find oneself in a position to accept such a role. While business operations manager is a lofty goal, it is certainly not beyond the reach of anyone who has sufficient organization, drive, and talent.

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