Operations is perhaps the most complex area because so many things fall under this header.
The key part of operations will be your team if you have employees. Training them, making sure you provide a good environment, rewarding them fairly, being flexible are all part of being a modern day employer.
They need to understand who you are as a business and what you are trying to deliver. Systems can cover some of the how we do this and are an important part of operations. The difficulty might be getting everyone to follow them!
The services and products that you offer are also an integral part of operations. In a world where regulation is ever changing and the way we do things is modernised overnight you need to have someone in place to keep an eye on these areas and look at how you will address them as a business. This can be hard when everyone is busy but it is a must to not fall foul of regulation but also to be able to offer what a customer wants means keeping up to date with what is changing in your industry.
Technology is often a part of this, either your use of it or the ways a customer wants to use it and how it fits with your product.
The way you do things in this area also inevitably means that you need be aware of things like cyber security and put systems and training in place to make sure that you are doing what you need to.
Deadlines inevitably loom in this area. It is better to under promise and over deliver than the other way around but perhaps most importantly you need to manage the customer expectations and be honest with them if you cannot meet a turnaround time that they want. Trying to do something and failing or delivering a sub standard service is not where you want to be.
Planning for holiday cover, bank holiday shut downs and being able to cover things like sickness can be a time consuming process but again is very necessary to deliver a good service. Building flexibility into your teams and making sure vital areas have cover will allow you to be successful here.
A decision maker needs to be available to keep things moving.
Pricing is perhaps the last big area to cover and the best advice here is to be transparent with your pricing and help the customer to understand what is involved in the work. Make sure that the price includes everything and that you don’t have to keep amending it. The price needs to cover what you are providing so that there is no temptation to rush a job and also so that the team are motivated to do a good job as they know that you are getting paid properly for it.
If you don’t have employees yet many of these issues will still need addressing but may be simpler as there is only you in the mix. Simpler but not straight forward if you are trying to cover everything yourself!
Next week we move on to look at finance.