Introduction to operations management
Introduction to operations management

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

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.

Download this video clip.Video player: Screencast 1: Extending the input–process–output model
Skip transcript: Screencast 1: Extending the input–process–output model

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.
End transcript: Screencast 1: Extending the input–process–output model
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Screencast 1: Extending the input–process–output model
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

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.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus