Operations Managers – Use Project Management Principals for an Easier Life!

Day-to-day operations management in a number of industries, but especially construction, is becoming more specialised and less forgiving. Managing a small or medium sized construction company efficiently now requires not just an in-depth knowledge of building and business but also needs a structured process. This will mean the organisation can gain the most out of its available resources and can ensure that the customer is kept happy by the achievement of deadlines to the cost and quality levels agreed. As such this work is less like managing an organisation’s operations and is more closely related to project or contract management. There is much that Project Management techniques can bring to construction firms, not only to manage their individual sites, but to manage their on-going day-to-day operations as a linked portfolio of activity being undertaken.In the current economic climate, managing operations so that they are ultra-efficient will provide real economic benefit and improve customer service. This can be done by;• Sequencing the use of directly employed and sub contracted resources not only on a single contract but across the portfolio of sites being undertaken, can mean better continuity of work, less down time and less time sourcing contractors.• Managing equipment on a portfolio basis which will give competitive advantage and improve customer satisfaction as there will be less time when equipment is in the wrong place or is being maintained when it is expected on site.• Finally the integration of leave and training into the portfolio of projects will also help to ensure that everyone is on site that is required, when they are needed.For these reasons it is suggested that the integration of operations management across the breadth of activities being undertaken, as a portfolio of projects or contracts, with the use of project management techniques to give maximum efficiency and minimal waste will be an increasing theme across construction. Conversely the management of operations by reacting to situations and ‘fire fighting’ using quick decision making based on experience will become less frequent. This shift will improve the distance ahead that construction operations managers will be thinking and will enable the adoption of other techniques from industries who benefit from a more stable operational environment.This longer term planning can bring a number of benefits including;• Improved communication with customers
• Identification of over or under utilisation of people and equipment
• Direction of the sales effort well in advance
• Greater collaboration across the business and improved alignment to your aims
• The ability to up skill or train before the capability is required and to do this when most efficient
• Illustrate when there is insufficient resources allowing for the employment of the correct individuals or purchase of the correct equipmentThis shift can be supported by the generic Project Management software currently on the market for managing individual projects, however, there are only a few systems that can support a portfolio of operations. It is likely that these will become more common place and will become increasingly specialised to particular industries and sectors.So if you are an operations manager who finds themselves always working only a few days or hours ahead, do yourself a favour, plan further into the future with a suitable tool and give yourself an easier life.

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