Operations management is a central field in virtually every modern business organization.  An understanding of the mechanisms that enable firms to achieve operational excellence is essential to improve performance in both the manufacturing and service sectors.  It is also a key skill for consulting companies that are called to analyze and streamline the processes of their clients.  Finally, understanding operations is also important in the financial sector, since operations is an important criterion to assess the value of a business.  Accordingly, operations management is a fundamental discipline both for students who envisage a career in industry, and for those who have interests in the consulting or financial sectors.

This course will provide a general introduction to the field and demonstrate how excellence in designing and managing operations is a primary driver of business success. Students will develop an awareness of the principal operational issues that arise in all businesses, and they will acquire a skillset that will enable them to successfully address these issues.  The course will provide the basic terminology, concepts and quantitative tools for describing, analyzing and improving business processes, and basic knowledge about operations strategy and supply chain management. 

Learning outcomes

When you complete this course, you should be able to:

  • Understand how operational excellence may become a source of sustained competitive advantage in both manufacturing and service operations, for instance through process innovation (e.g. quick response) and process execution (e.g. lean management).
  • Use the product-process matrix to discuss the link between business strategy, and product and process choices.
  • Analyze business processes, identify appropriate performance metrics and use these metrics to improve process performance (output, processing times and productivity).
  • Understand why variability has a detrimental impact on both manufacturing and services operations and apply models to estimate its impact and evaluate alternatives to reduce it.
  • Understand the characteristics, advantages and limits of the most representative manufacturing models such as push and pull.
  • Identify the pillars of lean manufacturing, such as just-in-time and total quality management, and understand how and when they can be applied to service operations.
  • Understand why supply-demand mismatches are a constraint to profitability in industries with volatile demand. Examine the sources of these mismatches, and identify structural remedies and analytical techniques to hedge against demand uncertainty.
  • Apply basic inventory management models to trade off different cost factors such as setup costs, holding costs and cost of shortages.
  • Understand how the lack of coordination among multiple decision makers affects the performance of supply chains by creating a bull-whip effect, and identify its causes and potential remedies.
  • Create a project time line and understand how project managers can impact a project’s duration.