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What are the challenges facing operations management?

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Quick Answer

Two challenges facing operations management are globalization and worker engagement in solving problems. Increasingly, operations managers must be flexible when coming up with solutions for operating a business within an alternative culture. Managers face challenges in motivating employees to share valuable knowledge.

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The influence of modern technology and globalization has transformed the priorities of many companies, and as a result, the role of the operations manager has changed. Not only do operations managers have to ensure that a business fulfills all its internal goals, they also have to be aware of how growing populations affect the amount of resources available in the marketplace. According to the Houston Chronicle, operations managers play a central role in stabilizing an organization's policies and procedures across major business areas including finance, planning and technology.

An operations manager must ensure that the long-term strategies of his company are satisfied and also monitor the organization's impact on the social, cultural and economic environment. Managers must create strategies to manage relationships between customers and employees. Therefore, the challenge for an operations manager involves developing a sustainable business strategy that protects the external environment while maximizing the profitability of the company. Rapid changes in technology also mean that operations managers must be able to make decisions quickly to keep up with the latest trends.

Managers tackling operations in cultures different from what they know are often tasked to develop strategies that adapt local cultural norms. A major challenge is figuring out how to blend the company culture with local customs. Managers may run into ethical issues such as bribery.

Cultural clashes may involve the actual working environment. For example, a parent company located in Europe is used to working closely with worker unions. Operating in countries where this isn't the norm poses unique challenges to the existing system.

Some businesses have heavy customer contact, which means a majority of employees are likely to face daily problems that need solutions. Hospital operations provide a window into how managers face challenges regarding employee input.

Problem-solving is critical in a hospital environment. Yet, employees on the front line may feel they are too busy to inform management of every problem they encounter. Finding easy ways to receive continued input from employees concerning unique problem solving remains an ongoing issue.

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