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What Business Operations Really Means

        posted by , May 02, 2013

People live, businesses operate.

Business operations is a generic term that can be used to describe virtually anything a business does. Operations are the recurring processes that keep your business running day in and day out.

Definition: Business Operations

Business operations are the day-to-day processes, practices and activities that allow a business to execute its objectives.

Operations Are Repeatable

Business operations are the predicable elements of your business. For this reason, startups and small businesses tend to be less focused on operations than large, mature businesses.

Business functions that have highly variable outcomes aren't usually considered operations (e.g. strategy planning, sales and marketing).

The term operations suggests that you're applying repeatable processes or checklists.

Types of Business Operations

Operations has a different meaning from one industry to the next. The term is usually used to identify the core business functions of an organization.

If you're a technology company then operations is synonymous with technology operations. If you're a trucking company then operations is synonymous with logistics.

The following types of operations are amongst the most common.

  • Technology Operations
    The day to day operations of IT services that ensure service level, availability, capacity and security.

  • Supply Chain Management
    Managing the provisioning of goods and services over a distributed network of partners.

  • Logistics
    The flow of resources, components and products from where they're produced to where they're used.

  • Manufacturing
    Manufacturing processes such as production lines.

  • Sales Operations
    Processes that support sales such as sales strategy, planning, reporting, measurement, execution, compensation and quotas.

  • Retail Operations
    The processes that keep a retail location or network of retail stores running.

Examples of Business Operations

The following examples illustrate business operations in different industries.

  • Flight Operations
    Fueling an aircraft is a flight operations process.

  • Banking Operations
    When banks trade financial instruments such as stocks they need to settle those trades. Financial settlement processes are banking operations.

  • Retail Operations
    Stocking shelves and marking prices is a retail operations process.

  • Technology Operations
    Monitoring technology services for security violations is a technology operations process.

  • Logistics
    A load of lettuce is trucked from Ohio to a supermarket distribution center in New York.

  • Manufacturing
    A manager stops a production line when she notices a quality issue.

  • Sales Operations
    A sales operations analyst prepares a list of prospective customers.

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