Introduction to operations management
Introduction to operations management

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Introduction to operations management

2.1 Extensions to the input–process–output model

One of the leading operations management texts, Operations Management (Slack et al., 2007), has extended the basic process model by dividing operations management tasks into three distinct areas: design tasks, planning and control, and improvement. The framework also relates the operations function more closely to market requirements. This helps us understand how the different operations tasks link together. Screencast 1 will help you to understand the main themes of the operations management function.

Note: the video below was originally created for the OU module B207 Shaping business opportunities [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , so please ignore any reference to the module.

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Transcript: Screencast 1: Extending the input–process–output model

In the first part of this session, the tasks associated with Operations Management were represented by a simple input process output framework. This model has been extended by Nigel Slack and his team in his operations management text.
The basic structure of the framework is the same. Operations managers are responsible for resources. Both the transformed resources, including the material, information, and customers. And they also manage the transforming resources, such as facilities and staff.
The key difference with the Slack et al. framework is the focus on the right hand side of the model. Operations managers are not only responsible for the outputs from the process itself but the entire set of practises is dictated by the market. In other words, the customers. When a customer purchases a product or service, it is not only the actual output the customer helps define. They also dictate how the operation itself needs to perform.
Customers define the performance objectives that the operation needs to meet. These objectives include aspects of quality, process flexibility, or speed of response.
The session also includes descriptions of other performance objectives that the operation needs to consider. The general philosophy is that this type of performance cannot simply be managed in. Instead, it has to be designed in through a series of long term structural decisions. These decisions collectively are referred to as the operations strategy.
The operations strategy includes decisions such as facility size and location, the level of use of technology, and the design of the supply network that feeds the process with the input resources.
Once the infrastructure is in place, operations managers can then focus attention on managing the process. Three main elements of process management can be identified. First, operations managers need to design their processes consistent with the performance requirements.
Second, they need to plan and control their process to decide what work to do when, monitoring the system, and taking corrective action if things start to go wrong.
Finally, and a key role in a modern operations management context, is process improvement. Operations managers drive much of an organisation's performance improvement over time. This can feed through to changes in how the organisation competes in a market.
This framework acts as a good summary of the overall content of the operations management elements of your module, and shows how they link together. You will see many of these topics discussed in this and later sessions on the module.
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Screencast 1: Extending the input–process–output model
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This screencast emphasises one of the main features of the Slack et al. framework: namely operations management’s market-driven perspective. Operations management is about serving markets effectively and efficiently, rather than simply hitting output targets. The framework also highlights a major change in the last decade where system improvement and development have become a much greater part of an operations manager’s role.


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