What do you think when you hear the phrase operations management? A dry topic reserved for the boardroom? Well, operations management is actually all around us. I want you to think of the last time you ordered a coffee or bought something online. You know, the process that ensures your coffee is hot and your package arrives on time? That’s operations management in action.

Whether it’s a small café or a global tech company, every business relies on effective operations management. However, not all operations management is the same. Different companies have different needs, and how they manage operations reflects that. 

Some focus on making products, while others concentrate on providing services. Some prioritize speed and efficiency, while others put quality or flexibility first. With the introduction of work management software like Wrike, the days of juggling multiple projects are over. You can have a streamlined process where every project, from your café’s daily inventory restock to the next groundbreaking tech release, starts with all the information you need right at your fingertips. 

Organize your workloads and reach your operational goals with Wrike — start your free trial now.

This article will cover the different types of operations management, from manufacturing and service operations to project-based operations. We’ll check out how each type works, their challenges, and the strategies to overcome them. By the end, you’ll understand what operations management looks like in various settings and why it’s such an important part of any business.

So, if you’ve ever wondered how your favorite products are made or how services are delivered so seamlessly, you’re about to find out. Are you ready to peel back the curtain and see what makes it tick?

Understanding operations management

Have you ever wondered how things just work in a business? Let’s break down operations management into something we can all relate to. You’re planning a big road trip with your friends. You’ve got to figure out your route, what snacks to bring, how to keep entertained, and where to make pit stops. In a way, you’re managing the operations of your road trip to ensure everything goes smoothly.

Now, apply that thinking to a business. Operations management is the art and science of ensuring a company’s day-to-day activities run without a hitch. It manages all the processes that go into producing goods or services, from the initial idea to the customer’s hands.

Operations management is a relentless quest for improvement. You need to ask yourself, “What can I do better?” Wrike’s operations templates can help you manage your daily operations. These templates include everything from employee onboarding and offboarding to detailed attendance tracking and inventory management.

Consider the attendance tracker template, for instance. It simplifies tracking employee presence, ensuring that staffing needs are always met without the hassle of manual checks. Or the vendor management template, which provides a clear overview of stock levels, aiding in timely reorder processes and preventing overstocking or stockouts. And for those looking at the bigger picture, the business model canvas template allows teams to visualize and plan their strategies comprehensively.

business model

Without operations management, businesses could quickly fall into problems. Imagine a restaurant that doesn’t plan its menu properly, runs out of ingredients, or fails to serve meals on time. Customers would be unhappy and the business would suffer. That’s why effective operations management is so important. 

Operations management also involves finding ways to do things better. You need to ask yourself, “How can we make our products even better?” or “Is there a faster way to deliver our services?” By continuously looking for improvements, businesses can stay ahead of the competition and keep their customers returning for more.

Next time you enjoy a seamless experience with a product or service, remember there’s a lot of operations management magic behind the scenes.

Enjoy an intuitive, visual layout of your strategic operations with Wrike — start your free trial now.

Here are several key functions that are essential for the smooth functioning of an organization:

  • Planning: Operations managers are responsible for developing strategic plans to achieve organizational goals. This involves forecasting demand, setting production targets, and creating schedules to optimize resource utilization.
  • Organizing: Operations managers coordinate allocating resources, including personnel, equipment, and facilities. They design workflows, establish production processes, and implement systems to maximize efficiency.
  • Controlling: Operations managers monitor production processes, assess performance against targets, and implement corrective actions when necessary. They use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure productivity, quality, and cost-effectiveness.
  • Improving: Operations managers continually seek ways to improve processes and enhance performance. They analyze data, identify bottlenecks, and implement process improvements, such as lean manufacturing techniques or automation.

Types of operations management

Here are the different types of operations management, each with its focus and objectives:

Service operations management

How do top-notch services come your way with a snap of your fingers? Well, that’s service operations management in action. This could be anything from running a hotel to operating a bank or providing internet services. Here, the focus is on delivering top-notch service to customers. It’s not about tangible products but ensuring customer satisfaction through efficient service delivery. Managing staff schedules, ensuring speedy service, and maintaining high customer service standards are all part of the mix.  

Ensuring everyone gets quick, top-notch service is as important as having a happy, well-organized team that provides services to your customers. Imagine how useful it would be if you could see exactly what each part of your team is working on and how it all ties together. 

That’s where Wrike’s cross-tagging shines. It lets teams see tasks in the bigger picture of their projects and the company’s goals. With Wrike’s cross-tagging, you can bookmark those key tasks and subtasks, no matter where they live — be it in folders, milestones, phases, or across various projects. 

product screenshot of wrike cross-tagging feature

This feature is a game changer, especially when you need to zero in on specific details without losing sight of the big picture. Let’s say you’re overseeing the budget for a series of events. With cross-tagging, you can tag just the budget-related subtasks and have them appear in your folder or a specific project report. It streamlines your focus, ensuring you’re always in the loop with the tasks needing your green light.

Production operations management

This is all about making stuff. Whether it’s cars, smartphones, or your favorite chocolate bars, production operations management focuses on turning raw materials into finished goods. It involves planning production schedules, managing inventory, and ensuring machinery is humming without a hitch. 

Project operations management

Big projects, tight deadlines! How do the pros handle it? Let’s find out! Project operations management emphasizes executing specific organizational projects. This could be constructing a building, developing new software, or organizing a marketing campaign. It focuses on hitting those milestones and achieving the project goals within the set time frame and budget. 

If you’re working on a big project, Wrike’s Kanban board lets you break it down into smaller phases or stages. You can see if something’s stuck and move things around so the work keeps flowing. It keeps things smooth and makes sure nothing stops the whole process.

wrike board view showing kanban project

Supply chain operations management

Ever been in a relay race where the baton passes through multiple hands as smoothly as possible? That’s precisely what supply chain operations management entails. Supply chain operations management ensures that products move seamlessly from suppliers to manufacturers, then to warehouses, and finally to stores or directly to customers. It oversees the entire supply chain to minimize costs and maximize efficiency. Coordination and collaboration across different segments ensures that customers get what they want, when they want it.

Inventory operations management

Inventory operations management focuses on the efficient management of inventory levels. This type of operations management is important in industries where inventory plays a significant role, such as retail, manufacturing, and e-commerce.

You’ve got to keep enough stock so customers find what they need when they need it, but not so much that your storage costs go through the roof. You can have a central spot where you can see everything about your inventory: what’s flying off the shelves, what’s gathering dust, and when it’s time to reorder. 

Wrike’s dashboards can be a handy tool here, helping pull all this information together and making it easier to keep your inventory lean but not too lean. With Wrike, you’re not just guessing when to order more products or which items are your bestsellers. The dashboard shows you real numbers and trends, helping you make informed decisions. 

executive portfolio dashboard

And if you need to adjust your team’s focus, say, to handle a sudden spike in demand for a hot product, Wrike’s intuitive Workload view lets you redistribute tasks with a simple drag-and-drop action.

The role of operations managers

If you think being an operations manager is a walk in the park, think again! What does it really take to be an operations manager? Operations managers analyze market trends, assess competitors, and identify growth opportunities. Based on this analysis, they develop strategic plans, set objectives, and allocate resources to achieve organizational goals.

Here’s a closer look at their functions:

  • Process optimization: Operations managers are relentless in their pursuit of efficiency. They meticulously analyze current processes to identify bottlenecks and implement improvements. This could mean reorganizing workflows, introducing automation, or adopting Lean manufacturing principles to reduce waste and increase productivity.
  • Resource allocation: They master the art of resource management, ensuring that every project or task has the necessary inputs — be they human resources, materials, or finances.  
  • Quality assurance: Maintaining the highest quality standards is non-negotiable. Operations managers establish rigorous quality control protocols to ensure that every product or service meets the organization’s and customers’ standards.  
  • Team leadership: Beyond managing processes and systems, operations managers lead teams. They are responsible for hiring, training, and motivating employees, creating an environment where teamwork and productivity thrive. 
  • Strategic planning: Operations managers forecast demand, assess market trends, and prepare the operation to meet future challenges. This includes capacity planning, supply chain management, and investment in new technologies or methodologies.
  • Risk management: Whether it’s supply chain disruptions, equipment failures, or changes in market demand, operations managers identify risks and develop mitigation strategies to keep the business on track.
  • Customer satisfaction: Operations managers streamline the delivery of products and services, ensuring that customers’ needs are met promptly and efficiently.  

Modern trends in operations management

So, what’s new in how companies work? From robots in the warehouse to meetings in the cloud, things are changing fast. Operations management is a dynamic field that constantly evolves to meet the changing needs of businesses. Several trends have emerged in recent years that are reshaping how organizations approach their operations. Here are a few of them:


Automation, robotics, AI, and data analytics have impacted operations, including production, inventory management, and supply chain optimization.

Keeping up with all the moving parts can be tough when running a business. According to Wrike’s efficiency report, 82% of business leaders say their teams already use AI in their software applications. And more than 80% are planning to dig deeper into their pockets to make the most of AI and automation.

If you want to zoom in on what the experts are saying, Alexey Korotich, Wrike’s Vice President of Product, recently made some predictions about generative AI. He said: “Organizations will shift from experimentation to working with artificial intelligence more meaningfully. AI will help companies analyze and connect many data sources, creating more transparency and providing critical insights that ultimately help teams make better decisions.”

It means less time digging for what you need and more time doing the stuff that really counts.  

Sustainability and green energy

Going green isn’t just for Earth Day! How are businesses weaving sustainability into their operations? With growing concerns about environmental sustainability, operations managers are increasingly focusing on adopting eco-friendly practices. Green operations management minimizes waste, reduces energy consumption, and implements sustainable manufacturing processes. For example, implementing energy-efficient technologies and practices can reduce energy costs and create a more sustainable business model.

What’s more, customers are becoming more environmentally conscious and are actively seeking out businesses that prioritize sustainability. By incorporating green practices into their operations, organizations can attract environmentally conscious consumers and gain a competitive advantage in the market.


How does a decision made thousands of miles away affect your local market? Operations managers face the challenges of managing global supply chains and international operations. They need to navigate cultural differences, legal requirements, and logistics complexities.  

This requires a deep understanding of international markets and effective communication and collaboration with stakeholders from different cultural backgrounds. Despite the challenges, globalization also presents opportunities for organizations to expand their reach and access new markets. Organizations can tap into new customer bases and achieve economies of scale by effectively managing global operations.

By keeping up with modern trends and embracing advancements in technology and sustainability, operations managers can continue to enhance productivity, improve customer satisfaction, and contribute to the long-term success of their organizations.

Leveraging the right tools in operations management

And that’s a wrap! Aren’t you feeling like an operations expert now? We’ve covered a lot of ground! From understanding the basics to exploring various types of operations management, we’ve seen how this field keeps the wheels of business turning smoothly.   

But what does this all mean for you, the reader? Maybe you’re an operations manager, a business owner, or someone curious about the inner workings of successful companies? 

It means the secret to keeping your business wheels turning are the everyday tools that bring your operations to life. With Wrike, you can see the big picture and the tiny details all in one place with dashboards that track your projects. You can see how your teams fit into various projects, ensuring you’re always in the loop through cross-tagging. You can cut through the noise of miscommunication with request forms that capture all the info you need upfront. Gone are the days of back-and-forth emails trying to gather project essentials. Now, you can kick-start your operations with all the details from the get-go, ensuring every team member knows exactly what to do and when. 

screenshot of request forms in Wrike

Matt Andrews, Marketing Campaign Manager at Aerotek, succinctly captures the impact of using Wrike into your daily workflows.

“Rather than a call or email resulting in a longer call or meeting, they now go to Wrike and fill out a very robust request form. It creates the job your team is going to work on from start to finish.”

Whether you’re fine-tuning your current operations or steering your business into new territories, remember that tools like Wrike support you every step of the way. Why not take the first step today? 

Start your free trial with Wrike and see how it can transform your operations management for the better.

Note: This article was created with the assistance of an AI engine. It has been reviewed and revised by our team of experts to ensure accuracy and quality.