Business operations are those tasks and activities that an organization undertakes to produce the services or goods that it provides to its customers. Efficient operations help companies reduce costs, and they might improve customer satisfaction. Technology can be used to automate many operations and improve efficiency.
Specific business tasks can vary depending on the type of organization. For example, business operations for an insurance company might include receipt of an insurance application, underwriting, accepting or rejecting the application and claims processing. In the case of a technical support organization, they might include things such as entering a service request, resolving it, escalating it to a higher level of support or putting it on hold.
Efficiency is important for large or small business operations, because efficient operations keep expenses down. Although operations don’t directly affect revenue, they do directly affect the company’s cost of doing business, so operations strongly influence its ability to be profitable. Indirectly, efficient operations might enhance revenue if they increase customer satisfaction, which can help increase sales.
Companies frequently initiate business operations analysis projects to evaluate and improve their processes. A business operations analyst might create business models as a part of this activity. The models make it easier to see all of the operations tasks and the interactions between departments. It becomes easier to locate duplicate or unneeded steps and to reorganize steps to improve efficiency. Frequently, companies will benchmark their processes against industry standards or best practices to help them discover which parts of their processes most likely need improvement.
After it has been determined that a business process can be improved, the analysis project might implement technology to improve operational efficiently. Many routine operations that had been handled manually can be completely or partially automated by software systems. As an example, a company that handled order acceptance manually through telephone calls from customers to inside sales representatives might build a website where its customers can place orders. The web ordering system can directly enter the orders into the company’s order entry system and bypass the need for the inside sales reps to enter them.
Some organizations establish ongoing programs to encourage employees to evaluate the business operations with which they are involved. The employees might be given opportunities to suggest improvements to these processes and to be recognized for their efforts. These programs usually are most successful when the organization acts upon suggestions that are feasible.