First - what are operations?
Operations are all the systems and process that help you deliver your product or service; this might be how you manufacture and deliver goods, how you organise work flow, how you run projects from start to completion, or how you process invoices. They are all the things you do on a repeat basis that make your business run.
To work at their best they need to be efficient and effective - ensuring your product is delivered to the best of your ability using the fewest resources.
Efficient = doing things well
A system is efficient when it takes the least time, using the least resources i.e. money, man-hours, raw materials. This means it should be as simple and streamlined as possible. Unnecessary parts or actions should be left out, reducing clutter and taking the fastest route to the end result, freeing time for other work.
Effective = doing the right thing
A system is effective when it achieves the right end result - there is no purpose being efficient producing something that misses the mark. This is like speeding along in the wrong direction. It needs to be an amazing journey - but in the right direction.
It also needs to be achieved consistently and with least risk. Correcting errors is a costly exercise in any business. And we clearly need to consider and mitigate any serious risks.
If we were to travel from London to Edinburgh, we first need to consider "Why Edinburgh - will it really give us what we want?" If we want a sunny beach holiday this is clearly the wrong place!
Having established it's the right destination, i.e. effective in us getting what we want, we now need to consider how to get there. What method of travel will be most efficient? If we then decided to travel by car, we must be efficient in our route, hours travelled and fuel used.
Are your operations efficient and effective?
To improve your operations:
How can you achieve more efficient and effective processes?
What core processes make the biggest difference to your business - and what has room to improve?