I find it very concerning the number of business executives I have met recently who see little need for operation management or see their business’ operations are part of a vendor support service. I’m not clear where they get that a business, of any kind, can be operationsless.
This attitude could come from their lack of experience in the real business world or coming from what I have heard many of the start-up business consultants are pitching that business plans and operations management are not needed when starting a business.
If you happen to be one of these businesses who feel Marketing/Sales is all their business needs let me break it down for you.
Every business stands on, or should stand on, three primary pillars of business processes. This goes for every industry in every market.
The three pillars are:
Some may argue that Strategy and Leadership are also primary pillars, however, from my 40 years of business experience, I found the best business practice is to make sure strategy and leadership are what each pillar stands on. Like a three legged chair, a business will not stand at all if any of these pillars are pulled.
The Sale/Marketing Pillar is self explanatory. Anything to do with sales or marketing, which is what I see many of the younger business executives see as all their business needs, are what this pillar stands on.
Things like market strategy, consumer interest and market pricing along with sales strategies are all part of what holds up this pillar.
Granted, having a dedicated sales/marketing team makes for a strong business. In order for the Sales personnel to be productive they can’t be worried with how the contract they just closed gets fulfilled. Yet, this is where the business starts to fail when they have no handoff from sales to operations that is in-house.
Once a product or service is sold the process turns to being part of the Business’ Operations. Even if the workflow process is to turn the contract over to a vendor to fulfill a product or service, there still needs to be someone dedicated to making sure that process is done.
The mistake many business executives make is thinking the contract they have with their vendors to handle the operations for their vendor is all they need. The lack of having someone monitoring the vendor to make sure they are abiding to the contract is root cause for the businesses who are Sales Only.
Some of the things that are generally part of operations is pricing validation, production timeline development and manufacturing guidelines just to name a few. Many businesses will put the overseeing of all legal matters in operations management since many times a business’ general counsel needs to be monitored for timely process of documents associated with things like the business’ service agreements.
This means the Operations Management team has to have knowledge of all facets of the business including knowing the marketing process as well as the support processes.
Most successful businesses are run by a strong operations manager. Yes, they have a CEO or other leader in the company that everyone sees as the face of the company. However, that person would be nothing..let me repeat this important fact..would be nothing without a an exceptionally strong operations.
A businesses operations is it’s strongest pillar. Everything the business does is developed or validated in it’s operations departed. Granted, marketing may have some great ideas, but if Operations can’t support what marketing is thinking up then the idea will not work.
Attempting to turn the business strength to be more marketing or support will place cranks in the operations pillar that will eventually cause it to collapse. Many of the businesses failing today do so because they attempt to sale more than the business can produce or reduced the role of it’s operations management to a point the quality of the produce service goes down, delivery dates are not met resulting in consumers reluctance to purchase the product or service.
Many businesses who understand the importance of having a dedicated operations management team will attempt to fold the Support Pillar into operations. This is another mistake many businesses make.
Having someone dedicated to handling the delivery and ongoing support of the businesses product or service is just as important as having a dedicated sales group. Too many times business executives will attempt to cut costs and having someone in their operations multitask as a customer service representative. Some will attempt to have their sales representatives double as the support person.
Taking these actions will eventually cost the business more than the funds they think they are saving by not having a dedicated customer service manager.
There just is no way around developing a successful business without the business standing on at least three pillars of business processes.
My advice to those who have not gained any experience from working for a business who stands on these pillars to stop what you are doing, get your resume out and go to work for a business that has a strong operations management team.
Once you get five or six years of experience at all of the processes in operations, then head out on your attempt to start a great business. You then will have a complete understanding of what you are doing which makes for a very confident executive. It is a great investment in time to be able to know how to set up a business’ operations first before you sell your first product or service.
Let me know how I can help.