Operations Management in small businesses: key techniques

A toolkit for making small business operations effective and efficient
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Instructed by Chris West Business / Operations
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  • Lectures 45
  • Length 18.5 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 10/2015 English

Course Description

Small business operations are often developed informally and by trial and error. Operations management can make or break a business. As your business grows there will be a need to ensure the effectiveness and efficiency of its operations. Operations management techniques, which have their origins in large organisations, can be applied with great results in small businesses. This course is a practical guide to how these proven techniques can be used in small businesses.

This course will take you on a journey through:

  1. Learning the key concepts of operations management
  2. Exploring how operations management can deliver your business strategy
  3. Learning how to design products, services, operations and processes
  4. Exploring how operations can be planned and delivered
  5. Learning how operations can always be improved
The course is aimed at owners and managers of small businesses. It is also suitable for business studies students, at any level, who are keen to run or work in a small business. You do not need any prior theoretical knowledge to take this course. You will need to have a passion for running a successful business, whether now or in the future. Practical experience of small business management or a general overview of the way a particular small business works will help you to relate these techniques directly to real situations. The course comprises 40 lectures in the form of video presentations and includes:
  • 4 quizzes to confirm your understanding of the course sections
  • Mini case studies of the applications of these techniques in a range of small business sectors
  • Suggestions for activities for you to apply specific techniques to your own business or a business you are familiar with
  • Discussions where we can share experiences of applying these techniques
We will be learning a myriad of techniques including: fitting operations to strategy, optimising flexibility and cost, designing layouts, maximising yield, supply chain management, lean approaches, project planning and control, risk management and quality improvement.

What are the requirements?

  • There is no requirement for prior theoretical knowledge
  • To provide a meaningful context to apply the techniques, students should either be working in a small business or be familiar with a small businesss

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Successfully apply operations management techniques in a small business
  • Develop and implement operations that can deliver business strategy
  • Evaluate and select an operations management technique to deliver a specific need
  • Manage others to implement an operations management technique

What is the target audience?

  • Small business owners and managers
  • Business studies students, at all levels, who plan to set up or work in a small business

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

Section 1: What is operations management? An introduction to the basic concepts.
Introduction
Preview
04:41
07:05

After completing this lecture you should:

  • Have a good idea of what Operations Management is
  • Appreciate that every small business is engaged in transformation processes
  • Have a clear overview of our course structure and understand the rationale for this.
08:43

On completion of this lecture and the activity , which is associated with it, you should:

  • Understand the Input-Output-Transformation process
  • Be able to distinguish between transformed and transforming resources
  • Appreciate that small businesses may involve a number of Input-Output-Transformation processes, which might be in sequence or in parallel
  • Be able to describe how the Input-Output -Transformation process applies in your business or one with which you are familiar.
3 pages

After reading this document, you should

  • Understand the concepts of PROCESS, OPERATION & SUPPLY NETWORK as the three main building blocks of operations management
  • Be able to relate these concepts to your own business, or one with which you are familiar
  • Appreciate the hierarchical relationships between these concepts.
08:27

On completion of this lecture and the activity which is associated with it, you should:

  • Understand the meaning of the four characteristics of operations (volume, variety, variation & visibility)
  • Be able to analyse a small business to determine which of these these characteristics is HIGH or LOW
  • Be able to interpret this analysis to determine its effect on the business's processing costs.
7 questions

This Quiz will help you check and consolidate your knowledge from this Section. A good mark will indicate that you have a clear idea of what operations management is.

Section 2: Operations management delivers and influences business strategy and performance
05:11

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the role of operations in delivering business strategy to meet stakeholder need
  • Understand the different types of stakeholders
  • Understand the importance of identifying stakeholders and their needs from the business
  • Be able to analyse your and other business to identify stakeholders and their specific needs.
05:20

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand that operations can deliver, support or drive business strategy
  • Understand that operations strategy, along with other sub-strategies, is a sub-strategy of business strategy
  • Be able to analyse and act on the relationship between operations and strategy in your business.
07:22

On completion of this lecture and the associated activities, you should:

  • Understand the concepts of the 5 performance objectives and the triple bottom line, as approaches to setting business strategy
  • Be able to analyse your business and others in terms of the relative importance of the 5 performance objectives
  • Be able to analyse your business and others in terms of the three elemnts of the triple bottom line.
04:47

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the four stages of contribution of operations to a business, as identified in the Hayes and Wheelwright model
  • Be able to analyse your and other businesses to identify which stage of contribution applies
  • Be able to identify if there is value in moving to the next stage and what this would entail.
04:50

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the meaning of the four different perspectives on operations strategy
  • Be able to analyse your business and others to identify which of the four perspectives apply
  • Evaluate the value to the business of these perspectives.
06:22

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the two main types of operations strategy
  • Understand the two main sets of elements of structural elements and operational systems, in operations strtaegy
  • Be able to analyses your and other businesses to identify which type asnd elements of operations strtaegy apply and how these are applied
End of Section Quiz: Operations management delivers and influences strategy
8 questions
Section 3: Design of of processes, operations, products and services.
08:07

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the relationship between Product & Service Design and Process Design
  • Understand the three components of design
  • Understand the six stages involved in designing a product or a service
  • Be able to relate the three components of design to your own products or services
  • Be able to apply the six design stages to designing your own product or service.

07:35

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the relationship between product and service design and process design
  • Understand the different types of process associated with product and service design
  • Understand the volume-variety characteristics of these products and processes.
03:49

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand what the product process matrix and service process matrix are and their potential to help a business optimise flexibility and cost
  • Be able to apply either the product process or service process matrix to operations in your and other businesses to identify if costs and flexibility can be optimised
2 pages

On completion of this lecture you should:

  • Understand what a process map is and the symbols used within it
  • Be able to draw a process map for an operation or set of operations in your business or other businesses.
08:32

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand what a Supply Network is
  • Understand the differences between the Supply Side and Demand Side elements of a Supply Network
  • Appreciate why it is important that small businesses understand their supply networks and the design of these
  • Understand a number of ways in which the shape of a supply network can change
  • Be able to represent the design of the supply network for your own or other businesses
  • Identify and analyse whether using any of the supply network modification techniques studied would improve the business in terms of the customer experience or profitability
05:28

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand how the location of a business's operations are influenced by sets of Supply Side and Demand Side factors
  • Understand the importance of considering all of these factors when locating a business
  • Understand the concept of a gravity model for advising the location of businesses which are heavily reliant on transportation
  • Be able to analyse the Supply and Demand side factors which relate to the location of your own business or another business
  • Identify from this analysis whether tere is scope for any improvement
08:54

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the four main types of layout and the different process type and volume-variety contexts in which they apply
  • Understand the two sets of criteria which can be used to evaluate a layout
  • Be able to analyse your business and others to identify the type(s) of layout used, evaluate the performace of the layouts and suggest any potential improvements.
05:53

On completion of this lecture, reading the mini case study and engaging in the activity associated with the lecture, you should:


  • Understand the three main types of process technology which can support a small business
  • Know the extent that a small business owner or manager should be involved in the process technology
  • Be able to evaluate the performance of the process technology in your own or another business and identify any potential improvements.
04:37

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:


  • Understand the two main types of innovation - incremental and radical
  • Understand Henderson-Clark's extended classification of types of innovation
  • Be able to relate and apply these classifications to innovation in the context or your own or other businesses.
End of Section Quiz: Design of processes, operations, products and services
8 questions
Section 4: Planning and delivering operations
05:14

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the meaning of planning and control and the difference between planning and control
  • Appreciate the purpose of planning
  • Understand the three main types of plan
  • Be able to review the plans in your and other business in terms of their types and purposes
08:03

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the four main planning activities of scheduling, sequencing, loading and monitoring/controlling
  • Understand the detailed approaches which can be used for each of these four activities
  • Be able to analyse an activity in your or another business to identify the type of sequencing and control used and if there is any scope for improving efficiency by using alternative approaches
09:44

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

    • Understand the difference between dependent and independent demand
    • Have an overview of a range of quantitative and qualitative methods of forecasting demand and their applicability to different concepts
    • Understand the three approaches to capacity planning
    • Be able to analyse demand in your business or others, the forecasting approach(es) used and their relative merits
    • Be able to analyse how capacity planning is managed in your business or others and identify any potential improvements

05:49

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

    • Be able to identify the characteristics of a business which would make Yield Management an appropriate technique to use
    • Understand the main techniques that can be used to manage yield
    • Appreciate the pitfalls of specific yield management techniques
    • Be able to apply Yield Management, when appropriate, to your business or others

06:55

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the purpose of stock or inventory management to reconcile supply and demand
  • Understand the purposes of different types of inventory, including buffer, cycle, anticipatory and pipeline inventory
  • Appreciate the three main challenges of inventory management as the volume, timing and quantity decisions
  • Appreciate the factors which influence these decisions
  • Be aware of methods to support these decisions
  • Be able to analyse how inventory is being managed in a particular business and to identify potential efficiency improvements
06:03

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand what Supply Chain Management is
  • Appreciate the critical nature of Supply Chain Management as a business activity
  • Understand how Supply Chain Performance can be measured in terms of the achievement of the 5 performance objectives
  • Be able to use the 5 performance objectives to assess the performance of a particular supply chain and identify any potential improvements.
07:52

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:


  • Understand the full range of supply chain activities
  • Be able to judge when to use specific supply chain activities
  • Understand the range of supply chain relationships and where these apply
  • Understand the meaning of the bull-whip effect
  • Understand how supply chains can be improved
  • Be able to analyse a particular supply chain to identify which supply chain relationships apply and whether there is any presence of the bull-whip effect.
08:42

On completion of this activity and the associated lecture , you should:

  • Understand the use of a customer relationship management system to operate and record a business's engagement with its customers
  • Understand how a customer relationship management system can be used to analyse a business's interaction with its customers
  • Understand how this analysis can be used tactically and strategically to gain further business
  • Appreciate the pitfalls that might be encountered in using a customer relationship management system
  • Be able to analyse the current use of a customer relationship management system in a small business to see whether further gains can be made from its use
  • Be able to evaluate whether a particular small business situation would benefit from use of a customer relationship management system
  • Be able to consider how a small business might use Social Media as part of its customer relationships management
09:51

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the general purpose of the LEAN approach to business
  • Understand the key people based principles embodied by the LEAN approach
  • Understand the three types and seven causes of waste
  • Be able to identify, analyse and eliminate specific instances of waste in a small business
  • Be able to evaluate a business to gauge its current use of LEAN methods and identify any further potential use of these methods.
05:23

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the three key elements of the LEAN approach to business start-ups
  • Understand the six key principles of the LEAN approach to business growth
  • Be able to analyse how LEAN principles are being used to grow a particular business
  • Be able to identify further potential use and value of using LEAN principles to grow this business.
09:19

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the function of materials requirements planning, its inputs and outputs
  • Understand the function and purpose of the Master Production Schedule
  • Understand the function and purpose of the Bill of Materials
  • Understand the relationship between materials requirements planning and inventory management
  • Be able to judge whether it might be appropriate to use materials requirements planning in aparticular small business context.
08:04

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the general function and purpose of enterprise resource planning
  • Be aware of the advantages of using enterprise resource planning
  • Be aware of the pitfalls that can be encountered in using enterprise resource planning
  • Be able to systematically evaluate whether it is appropriate to use resource planning in a particular small business situation.
10:18

On completion of this lecture, you should:

  • Understand the basic definition of a project and how it differs from a programme
  • Understand the steps of the project planning and control cycle as used in the traditional or "waterfall" approach to project planning
  • Understand and be able to apply the techniques that can be used at each stage of the project planning and control cycle
  • Be able to select appropriate techniques for specific project related situations
  • Understand and be able to carry out an analysis of stakeholders and their needs.
08:40

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the key principles and elements of agile project planning methodology
  • Understand the people management elements of agile project planning methodology
  • Understand the metrics used within agile project planning methodology
  • Be able to evaluate situations to judge when it is suitable to use the waterfall. method, agile method or a hybrid approach
  • Be able to apply these project planning and control methodologies in a small business context.
End of Section Quiz: Planning and delivering operations
20 questions
Section 5: Improving operations
07:13

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Be able to define quality
  • Appreciate the critical nature of quality in a small business
  • Understand what quality means to the customer in specific small business situations
  • Understand the meaning of the four types of quality gap that can occur
  • Be able to analyses a small business situation to identify, i detail, what quality means for the customer and to identify any quality gaps.
07:23

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the meaning of the 5 main approaches to managing quality of inspection, audit, quality control, quality assurance and quality improvement
  • Be able to differentiate between these approaches to quality management
  • Appreciate how these quality management approaches apply in specific situations
  • Be able to analyses a business to identify which quality management approaches are being used and which approaches could potentially be used.
04:31

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:


  • Understand the elements and advantages of Total Quality Management
  • Understand the conditions that are necessary in a business to introduce Total Quality Management
  • Understand what is involved in introducing and implementing Total quality management in a small business
  • Be able to analyse a small business to assess whether it is ready for the introduction of Total Quality Management and to plan and implement its use.
03:20

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:


  • Understand the meaning of the Deming - Plan-do-check-act cycle as a method of quality improvement
  • Understand the meaning of each stage of the cycle
  • Appreciate how these stages can apply, in detail, to a small business situation
  • Be able to apply the Deming Cycle to a small business improvement that you have identified.
07:35

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:


  • Understand the main principles of Statistical Process Control
  • Understand the general purpose of Control Charts
  • Understand the three main types of service provision
  • Appreciate why it is more challenging to apply Statistical Process Control to a service than a production situation
  • Understand how the principles of Statistical Process Control can be applied to small business service and production contexts
  • Be able to apply the principles of Statistical Process Control to an improvement in a small business.
06:48

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:


  • Understand the evolution and key principles of the Six Sigma approach to quality improvement
  • Understand the meaning and key purpose of the DMAIC - Define- Measure-Act- Improve-Control cycle
  • Understand the detailed meaning of each stage within this cycle and how these stages can be applied in a small business context
  • Appreciate the conditions necessary to introduce and implement Six Sigma in a business as a means of qualioty improvement
  • Be able to apply the DMAIC cycle to a particular small business improvement.
07:22

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the meaning of risk and the four main elements of risk management
  • identify the five types of risk that can occur in a small business and elate these to particular situations
  • Understand the key elements involved in a standard risk assessment
  • Appreciate the different metrics used to measure failure and how these apply in different contexts
  • Understand the types and purposes and value of post failure analysis
  • Be able to identify the key risks in a particular business, the type of risk, the likelihood of the failures occurring and their potential impact on the business and the customer.
04:37

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the two main factors involved in preventing service failure and be able to relate these to specific businesses
  • Understand the three factors involved in preventing production failure and be able to relate these to specific businesses
  • Understand the different type s of maintenance and contexts in which these apply
  • Be able to identify failure prevention activities for the key risks in a particular business
04:38

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the need to mitigate failure in businesses
  • Understand the five main strategies that can be used to mitigate failure and the business contexts in which they apply
  • Be able to apply strategies to mitigate failure in a particular business situation
02:43

On completion of this lecture and the associated activity, you should:

  • Understand the importance of planning and implementing recovery from failure
  • Understand the four main steps involved in failure recovery and how these apply in business situations
  • Be able to plan and recover from failure in a particular business situation.
End of Section Quiz: Improving operations
10 questions
Conclusion and next steps
02:13

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Instructor Biography

Chris West, Business and Academic Leader

Qualifications: BSc. (Hons) Mathematics, Member of the British Computer Society, Chartered Engineer, Chartered IT Professional.

Chris West has worked in education and business in the UK. He started his IT career in project planning and control in civil engineering. He was Head of Computing, Electronics and Mathematics at a college, which later became the University of Gloucestershire. His research interest was mathematical modelling. As Vice-Principal at Swindon College, he led planning and resourcing. Chris was an Associate Lecturer for the Open University. He worked in a government policy unit to develop college management information systems nationally. As Chief Executive of ECCTIS, he privatised the UK government’s information service on higher education courses and credit transfer, using an outsourcing model. As Head of the UK NARIC, he created this international qualifications equivalence information service. For Anglia Television he developed and led an e-learning business for schools and subsequently a professional development business for Granada Media.

Chris now works as a consultant. He tutors under-graduates in Operations Management for the University of Essex Online. His recent activities for the Association of Colleges include researching the potential for colleges of cloud computing, CRM applications, IT outsourcing, delivering professional development programmes and as a national leader of governance. He is currently Vice Chairman of the Royal National College for the Blind

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