An important element of any business system is management, whether an individual or a team performs it. In our society, we no longer think of company management in terms of one person acting as the entrepreneur, but rather as a team effort. Each member possesses specialized knowledge and understanding of one functional area of the business system and is by temperament and training able to work cooperatively with other members of the team toward a common goal.
Whatever the system or organization, the functions of management are always the same: (1) designing, (2) planning, (3) organizing, (4) directing, and (5) controlling. Management establishes the goals and objectives of the firm or organization and plans how to attain them. It is management that organizes the system and directs it so that its goals can be reached. Finally, management must be able to analyze the working of the system in order to control it and to correct any variations from the planned procedures in order to reach the predetermined goals. These functions interact with one another and managers must be skilled in these coordinating processes and functions if they are to accomplish their goals through the efforts of other people.
The concepts of managerial functions has some hidden difficulties when one attempts to apply them to a specific managerial job. First, one cannot tell which functions are most important and how much time must be allocated to each. All functions are important parts of a manager's job, but the significance attached to each one may vary at different times, such as at different stages of a product life cycle. Furthermore, the significance of each function varies at different management levels in the same organization. Operations management, for example, is more focused on directing and controlling than on planning or organizing.
All organizations have operations. Operation management, or technical management, is comprised of department managers and persons with professional technical competence. This level is oriented downward to basic operations, such as producing goods and moving them out the door. Amanufacturing company may conduct operation in a mill or factory. The driving force in operations management must be an overriding goal of continually improving service to customers, where "customer" means the next process as well as the final, external user. Since there is an operations element in every function of the enterprise, all people in all jobs in every department of the organization should work together for the improvement of their own operations management elements. It is important to note that the technical expert often seeks recognition from peers and colleagues rather than from managers at the administrative level.
The input of a system depends on its specific objective. What raw materials will yield the desired output? If one were to visually illustrate a system, the input would be shown as the components vital to it. A television repairperson needs a diagram of a TV set in order to repair it, or an auditor might need a flowchart of a company's accounting system to check for possible diversion of funds. If a system is designed to maintain a state, the input is information or feedback concerning the essential variable that must be maintained. If the purpose of a system is to make a decision, the input is relevant information about the problem. In a production system, the input consists of raw material, labor, and other manufacturing costs that are combined in the final product.
After input is established the input, it is necessary to transform it into a desirable output. In business, the transformation operation is extremely important. Manufacturing, marketing, and distribution must be studied and known in detail. However, there are some areas in which little is known. In a business system, for example, one must consider the way people act and react. Often behavior is placed in this gray area because so little is known about what motivates it. Also, for some people in an organization it may not matter how something works, while others may be vitally interested. A manager may not care how a report gets to him or her, but an accountant would be concerned with all the steps in gathering data, preparing the report, and communicating it to the manager. Thus, in studying any transformation operation, it is important to know the reliability of the process and who is interested in it. This system will vary depending on the output.
In one sense, output is the quality and quantity of the services and goods produced. In another sense, output may be thought of as the payments made for all the factors of production used. In the first sense, the entire system of the firm is designed to produce something that is desired in a market. Consumers want and seek out goods and services that will make their lives happier, more comfortable, healthier, longer, and so on. In order to produce those goods and services, the firm needs inputs. What may be output for one business may be input for another.
In the second sense, output is converted into revenue for the firm that is used to compensate the owners for the risks they have taken, management for its role in producing the revenue, and employees for their role in producing the good or service; it is also used to pay interest for the use of borrowed capital and wages for labor. Rent must be paid for the use of land; goods and materials used in production must be paid for; and taxes must be paid to the government. The output is the result of the system and is closely related to its objective. Output will accomplish or help to accomplish the specific objective if the system has been designed correctly.
All systems should include feedback. When an input is received in the system and undergoes a transformation operation, the result or output is then monitored and transmitted for comparison with a standard. If there is variation between the output and the standard, suitable action can be taken to correct the variation.
A business organization with many systems that range from very simple to very complex requires a much more complicated feedback network. Information must be communicated from person to person and from one part of the organization to another. In fact, the original data may be transformed many times before it reaches its final destination. Each of these transformations is subject to feedback.
Feedback can be defined as knowledge of results. Three basic types of feedback are needed: informational feedback, corrective feedback, and reinforcing feedback. The flow of information in an organization should be two-wayrom managers to workers as well as vice versa. In contrast to informational feedback, corrective feedback is evaluative and judgmental. An effective manager will not only point out mistakes but also get the individual worker headed in the right direction by means of corrective feedback. Positive consequences or reinforcements are one key to desired performance. In other words, reinforcing feedback is a prime means of achieving growth in job performance.
Products can be classified in many ways and their distribution can take many forms. But the essence of production management is that the factors of productionand, labor, and capitalare transformed by management from raw materials into something finished, something to be used, or something to be sold profitably in order to keep the business in operation.
Before production can be started, the firm must determine what kind of product it can profitably produce. Management must decide what markets the product will satisfy, what materials it will contain, what processes will be required to form it, by what means it can be transported, and what quality and quantity of labor will be needed to produce it. Knowledge of all this provides direction to the planning and organization of manufacturing.
Once the firm has decided on the basic product or service to produce, design and development can begin. Planning the product involves all parts of the business system. The marketing department may discover the need for a new or improved product, and the production department may then determine whether it can manufacture the product for sale at a given price. The finance department then decides whether the venture will be profitable and whether financing is available to cover the costs of development, manufacturing, and distribution. Such product planning determines whether development and design will go forward.
The process of refining a product to a finished form sheds further light on the problems of manufacture: the equipment, raw materials, and fabricated parts that will be required, as well as the flow of production. Planning for production actually starts as soon as the decision is made to develop and design a product.
Production management makes suggestions for manufacturing that will save time, effort, and money without impairing the design of the product. Production management is very complex. Decisions must be made about labors, money, machinery, and materials. Inventories of parts must be maintained, and proper machinery and equipment must be combined with labor. All these activities, although performed within the production system, must be closely coordinated with the overall system of the firm.
Production managers are involved in many diverse areas. They are concerned with all the peripheral aspects of production and must be able to manage workers, materials, and machines in a changing environment.
Why is productivity so important? The basic reason is that productivity is a measure of the efficiency with which a person, business, or entire economy produces goods and services. It is a key indicator of a nation's economic strength. In general, the concept of productivity refers to a comparison of the output of a production process with one or more of its inputs. Thus, productivity may mean different things in different situations.
Manufacturing is simply a special form of production by which raw and semifinished materials are processed and converted into finished products needed by consumers. In a broader and more basic sense, production is the transformation of inputs from human and physical resources into outputs desired by consumers. These outputs may be either goods or services. The production of services is often called operations management.
We are now entering an era in which production and corporate management are becoming recommitted to one of the basics of business: making a better product faster and cheaper. This effort is important because the great bulk of assets used in manufacturing companiescapital invested, people employed, and management timere allotted to the production function of the business rather than to marketing or finance. This situation is also true in service firms.
The organization for manufacturing depends on the complexity of the products manufactured and the size of the company. In a large company the manufacturing organization has divisions such as engineering, production control, inspection, and purchasing. The success of a product depends on the proper development and management of the product.
Management is universal. When more than one person is concerned with a goal, there is need for a process by which this goal can be attained. Management is active in every part of business and at every level. Its functions are performed in every department and in every function of the business. The practice of operations management is a continuous process of problem solving and decision making. The functions of management are based on the ability to make decisions and then to carry out all the implications of those decisions.
Kusiak, Andrew. (1999). "Engineering Design: Products, Processes, and Systems." San Diego: Academic Press.
Moody, Patricia E. (1999). "The Technology Machine: How Manufacturing Will Work in the Year 2020." New York: Free Press.
Williams, Blair R. (1996). "Manufacturing for Survival: The How-to Guide for Practitioners and Managers." Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Did this raise a question for you?