Field operations management is complex in nature, with many moving parts and players. Within any given organization, there are likely several departments or teams with different roles and responsibilities. Field operations management is a function that coordinates activities done by internal employees and external partners in the field. It touches on multiple areas of business, including supply chain, logistics, planning, services and more. Operations professionals in Field Ops have the central role to improve the efficiency of the Field Operations workflows in the company by remocing redundancies, optimizing process flows in their process. In this blog post we will take a deeper look at field operations management, its unique challenges and benefits, as well as some examples of companies that have implemented it effectively.
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What is Field Operations Management?
The term “field operations management” can be broken into two components: operations and management. First, the operations piece refers to the role of an operations manager being responsible for managing the the people in the field and the tasks they work upon. The process flow might differ from company to company and industry to industry. For example, the process of moving a product from Point A to Point B is different from the process of servicing a heating system at a customer's home. While the individual processes differ quite a bit, the Ops managers have a common goal of improving the quality and efficiency of their process flows. In their work, they are responsible for coordinating with all the different people, teams and departments involved in the process. The management part of field operations management refers to the fact that operations managers are accountable for making sound management decisions that support the organization in achieving its goals. This is essentially the same role as a general manager or COO, except they are focused on managing the field operations of an organization.
Why Is Field Operations Management Important?
As we touched on above, field operations management is important because it’s the glue that keeps an organization’s field work running smoothly. The unique thing about field operations is that in lieu of people being on the move and not physically present in the same location, coordinating across different people, teams and processes become more complicated. So, being on top of the current state of things becomes extremely important. With increased globalization and the shift to just-in-time (JIT) inventory management, the need for effective field operations management has never been greater. Field operations management is essential to ensuring that the flow of products and materials to customers is uninterrupted. It’s also critical for reducing operating costs and increasing profitability. In other words, if an organization’s field operations function is not operating optimally, it will be more expensive to run the business. Revenue may be negatively impacted, and it may be more difficult to achieve profit goals.
Key Areas of Importance for Field Ops Managers
- Process Optimization: One of the key roles of the Field Ops manager is to manage the process that is followed in the field. Every step that the field team makes needs to be mapped, tracked and optimized so they do not make mistakes, do not waste time and are always informed at all points in time.
- Team Management: At the end of the day, the Field Ops Manager manages people. Keeping people happy is one of the most important responsibility of an Operations Manager. This means, talking to the team regularly, providing a way for them to raise complaints and resolve complaints. They also need to address the career growth of the people who report into the managers.
- Quality Improvement: It's not just important to streamline the process, it is very important not to lose the quality benchmark. The Ops manager needs to take all the steps to ensure similar or higher quality of output in the service the field team is providing. This is done by having quality checks across the process, better monitoring and alerting tools.
How to Succeed at Field Operations Management
To be successful at field operations management, it’s important to focus on the following areas:
- Clearly communicating goals
- Process and data understanding
- Managing expectations with external partners and internal teams.
Clearly communicate goals:
Before diving into the day-to-day activities of your role, it is essential to clearly communicate your organizational goals to all stakeholders. You must understand the broader business goals of your organization before you can effectively contribute towards their attainment.
Process and Data Understanding
Field Operations managers need to understand process very clearly. Only when they understand every bit of the work that needs to be done, they can start optimizing it. This combined with the ability to look at data and identify bottlenecks is key to how Ops managers succeed.
Manage expectations with external partners and internal teams.
A successful field operations management team must be able to effectively manage the expectations of their partners, such as vendors, distributors, and customers. They also need to be able to manage expectations with their internal employees, keeping them happy and helping them grow in their career.
Field operations managers have an important job, as they are responsible for managing the flow of products from start to finish both internally and externally. Successful field ops managers must be able to clearly communicate organizational goals, work effectively with internal stakeholders, and manage expectations with external partners.