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8 Facts About Director of Operations

When you work at a company, it is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations without looking too far out in the future. Manufacturing plants are fast-paced environments with a lot of moving parts.

If you don’t have someone to set long term goals, things can get swept under the table which could lead to disaster. It only makes sense that companies hire individuals with the foresight to look into the future. Who are these individuals?

They are Directors of Operation (or Chief Operations Officers), highly experienced professionals with many years of work experience.

1. Directors of Operations organize and oversee daily operations

The Director of Operations (DO) is:

a member of an upper management team that oversees the day-to-day operations of a food manufacturing plant. They ensure that a company moves smoothly while reaching long term goals.To do so, they assign schedules and delegate tasks to staff and teams to complete daily activities. It is a DO’s responsibility to judge how efficiently and effectively the business operates. Tasks include reviewing business procedures (how staff perform tasks), business expenses (the cost of materials) and inspecting the efficiency of staff.  Through analysis and collaboration, they improve business processes and ensure that plants work at the highest levels of operation efficiency.

The duties that a DO performs is dependent on the company that they work for. For example, some DOs oversee manufacturing, sales and purchasing while others target specific areas. Overall, the Director of Operations provides leadership for operations, pushing the company forward.

2. Directors of Operations use key performance indicators  

The Director of Operations improves the efficiency of companies by developing ways of tracking progress. In the business world, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) track progress to evaluate the success of manufacturing processes and initiatives. Measuring KPIs allows the director to know what areas a company needs to improve.

For example, productions lines have a maximum amount they can produce during a period of time. A director of operations measures how much of the available capacity is being used on a production line. They want to maximize the time used on the line. Therefore, one way to improve efficiency is upkeeping maintenance on machine parts.

3. Directors of Operations have a lot of work experience

Due to the oversight needed for this profession, it is not uncommon for a company to require an individual to have at least 10 years of experience working in a senior management role within a manufacturing facility. Having extensive work experience allows the individual to have the insight to know which changes a manufacturing plant would benefit from and where to apply those improvements

It is almost always a requirement that the Director of Operations have a bachelor’s degree of some sort. Many companies do not specify which types of degree they require, but common educational backgrounds include operations management, industrial engineering, logistics and financial administration. Anyone interested in this position should also consider an advanced business-related degree such as a MBA.

4. Directors of Operations create avenues for employee development

In order for a company to grow, they need workers to grow with them. Worker growth comes from a culture of accountability and teamwork. The DO is at the forefront, working toward this initiative by developing mentorship and training programs for front line workers. Having proper training and development brings the skills and knowledge of all employees to a higher level.

5. Directors of Operations follow regulations

You might think that only Health/Safety Managers and Quality Managers are knowledgeable about food safety regulations, but this isn’t the case. A DO also makes sure that their company’s manufacturing facilities are compliant with all food safety regulations and that employees work in safe environments. They do so by ensuring that their companies have a culture that extends from upper management all the way down to production line workers. DOs look at the bigger picture and analyze data relating to food safety to see they can spot trouble areas. If they do identify one they will work with upper management to create plans to resolve these areas. Overall, if a company fails and a large food safety incident to occur they are ones that are held responsible.

6. Directors of Operations have experience in demand planning

Demand planning is the process of forecasting demand for a product or service so it can be produced properly and on time. This skill includes planning, scheduling and coordinating the workload schedules of day-to-day activities of the operation. Overall, demand planning is a skill that develops with time.

7. Directors of Operations create recommendations

Due to their upper management position, a DO has an overview of the entire company. Using their KPIs, they determine which parts of the company are running inefficiently. When they spot problems, they collaborate with different departments and develop long-term operational plans.

An example of a recommendation is reallocating a company’s manufacturing budget for pies to cakes because that is where the company is seeing more success.  

8. Directors of Operations are leaders, decisive and personal

As with any occupation, there are certain sets of skills which will aid you better than others. For a Director of Operations, these skills include:

  • Leadership – The Director of Operations needs to be an energizing, positive influence who promotes ownership and accountability. This role involves constantly encouraging people to improve and keeping up an optimistic attitude that pushes workers in the right direction.
  • Decision Making – Effective leaders take their time when making decisions by going through a process. Once a Director of Operations makes a decision, they stick to their choice because they know they have analyzed the situation thoroughly before deciding. Strong decisions lead better visions and goals within a company.
  • Interpersonal skills – A Director of Operations communicates constantly with individuals both within and outside their company. Interpersonal skills such as listening, speaking and writing must be strong for individuals in a leadership position such as a DO.

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