The Operations Manager Decoded: Role, Skills & New Insights

Soniya Jain
February 23, 2024
min read
March 15, 2024
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What's behind that operations manager title? Get insights into operations manager responsibilities, skills, education and more to excel in the role and unlock career growth opportunities.
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The role of an operations manager often flies under the radar, despite its critical importance.

In a world where businesses constantly strive to do more with less, understanding this role isn't just about filling a position — it's about seizing an opportunity in an expanding field of demand.

This in-depth guide aims to demystify this critical position. From defining the role and exploring the day-to-day responsibilities to examining the necessary education and training, we cover all you need to know about being an operations manager.

TL;DR: What is an operations manager?

If you're short on time, here is a quick, high-level rundown of the essentials about operations managers.

  • Role: Coordinate departmental processes to meet business goals. Ensure smooth and efficient operations in a cost-effective way.
  • Tasks: Analyze workflows, strategize with teams, solve problems and ensure quality and compliance.
  • Skills: Analytical, project management, leadership, communication.
  • Education: Degree in business or operations. Certifications like Lean Six Sigma to enhance skills.
  • Career: Varied operation manager roles across industries with a focus on process excellence.
  • Insight: The successful ones are increasingly using software technology like Scribe to plan, run and optimize processes.

Intrigued to learn more about this role? Continue with your detailed exploration below.

What is an operations manager? Defining the role

For those seeking a straightforward definition:

An operations manager is a professional responsible for overseeing, designing and controlling the process of production and redesigning business operations in producing goods or services. They ensure activities operate efficiently and effectively within an organization, aligning with strategic objectives to meet customer demands.

For analogy lovers:

Imagine a conductor of an orchestra, where each musician plays a distinct instrument, contributing to the symphony's overall harmony. An operations manager plays a similar role in the business world, orchestrating the other departments and processes to ensure the organization runs smoothly and efficiently. This high-level definition encapsulates the essence of an operations manager — they are the conductors of the business world, ensuring that each part of the organization works in harmony to achieve its goals.

It's clear that their contribution is foundational to any business's operational efficiency. Their role is a testament to the intricate dance of managing resources, technology and human talent to achieve a common goal — the organization's prosperity and customer satisfaction.

What does an operations manager do? A deep dive into their tasks

Let's explore the wide range of tasks managed by operations managers and their daily responsibilities.

Navigating daily operations: A day in the life

An operations manager's day is characterized by a blend of strategic oversight and hands-on operations management. Key activities include:

  • Reviewing performance metrics: Each day starts with a thorough operational data analysis. This step involves evaluating efficiency metrics, pinpointing performance gaps and identifying opportunities for process improvements.
  • Strategic meetings: Operations managers regularly collaborate with department heads and project leaders to synchronize on daily objectives, address current operational issues and forge strategies for future initiatives. These meetings are essential for maintaining alignment with the company's overarching goals. They collaborate with many departments, including:
    • Production.
    • Finance.
    • Human resources.
    • Marketing.
    • Quality control.
    • Facility managers.
    • Engineering.
    • IT.
    • Legal/Compliance.
    • And many more.
  • Problem-solving: The ability to swiftly tackle unforeseen challenges defines their role. Whether it’s smoothing out sudden operational snags, responding to critical customer service issues or adjusting plans due to supply chain disruptions, operations managers are adept at finding and implementing practical solutions on the fly.

Operations managers are responsible for ensuring the smooth functioning within an organization and aligning operational activities with strategic business goals.

‎Try this free, customizable operational plan template to build a clear and concise roadmap for achieving organizational objectives and aligning team efforts with your organization's mission and vision.

Ensuring quality and compliance

  • Quality assurance: Implement rigorous quality control processes to maintain high-quality standards consistently.
  • Regulatory compliance: Ensure that operational activities adhere to all relevant industry standards and legal requirements, making necessary adjustments to stay compliant.

Managing and optimizing resources

  • Resource allocation: Critical in maximizing productivity, this involves distributing human, material and financial resources efficiently across operations.
  • Supply chain management: Optimize supply chain logistics, from procurement to distribution, to effectively enhance production schedules and meet demand.

Implementing new technology and driving digital transformation

  • Technology integration: Find and integrate technologies that make operations more efficient. This could range from automating routine tasks to upgrading systems for superior data management, all aimed at streamlining operations for better productivity and performance.

A compelling example of technology integration in action is Lynne Miller at eXp Realty.

As a newly appointed Marketing Operations Manager, Lynne quickly identified the need for a more efficient process documentation tool. From her previous experience, she knew that Scribe offered the solution she was looking for. Scribe's ability to automate the creation of detailed, step-by-step guides for digital processes was a game-changer. Here's an example of a Scribe in action:

How to edit a view-only file in Figma by duplicating it: operations manager
How to edit a view-only file in Figma by duplicating it

By implementing Scribe, Lynne was able to:

  • Optimize an everyday process in her first few days, impressing her new team with the speed and professionalism of the documentation created.
  • Scale process documentation efforts, building a comprehensive internal knowledge base that made repeatable questions easy to address.
  • Enable all team members to learn processes quickly, regardless of their technical level, thanks to Scribe's intuitive guides.

This case study underscores the transformative impact of adopting the right digital tools. Operations teams use Scribe to simplify the documentation of digital workflows and elevate team efficiency by standardizing how operational processes are recorded and shared.

As Lynne puts it,

"Scribe just makes it so easy. I feel like I have this secret weapon in my toolkit – it takes me five minutes or less to capture any process.”

Operations managers are critical in guiding their organizations through digital transformation. By incorporating advanced technologies such as Scribe and committing to the Continuous Process Improvement (CPI) model principles, they equip their teams to excel in efficiency and innovation.

‎This strategic approach fosters the continuous improvement cycle and positions the organization for enduring success in an increasingly digital-centric business environment.

📌 Related resource: Implementing a Digital Operations Framework

Fostering team development

  • Cultivating high-performance teams: Beyond setting goals and evaluating performance, operations managers invest in their team's growth. They identify individual strengths and areas for development, fostering an environment where each member is encouraged to excel. This might involve personalized development plans, mentorship programs and regular, constructive feedback sessions.
  • Change management: With the constant evolution of business practices and technologies, operations managers guide operations teams through transitions smoothly. They ensure that new processes and technologies are adopted efficiently, minimizing disruption to daily operations.

Operations managers: industry-specific roles

To gain a complete understanding of the duties of operations managers, let's take a look at how their responsibilities differ from one industry to another, their versatile skills and the essential tasks they manage.


  • Key workflows: Enhancing patient care pathways, managing hospital inventory and procurement, ensuring compliance with health regulations, coordinating patient services across departments, and implementing health information systems for better data management.
  • Common designations: Healthcare Operations Manager, Hospital Administrator and Clinical Operations Manager.


  • Key workflows: Managing the software development lifecycle, overseeing IT project management, ensuring cybersecurity measures are in place, facilitating technology upgrades and integrations and promoting a culture of innovation within tech teams.
  • Common designations: Tech Operations Manager, IT Operations Manager and Agile Operations Manager.


  • Key workflows: Overseeing inventory management and control, coordinating supply chain operations, analyzing consumer data for better product placement, managing retail staff and in-store operations and enhancing the online shopping experience.
  • Common designations: Retail Operations Manager, Store Operations Manager, Inventory Operations Manager and Business Operations Manager.


  • Key workflows: Managing hotel operations for peak efficiency, overseeing guest bookings and customer service, coordinating events and catering services, maintaining facilities and ensuring compliance with hospitality standards and optimizing the guest experience from check-in to departure.
  • Common designations: Hotel Operations Manager, Guest Services Manager and Hospitality Operations Manager.


  • Key workflows: Streamlining production lines for maximum efficiency, managing supply chain logistics and vendor relations, overseeing quality control and product testing, implementing safety and compliance standards and driving continuous improvement in manufacturing processes.
  • Common designations: Manufacturing Operations Manager, Production Operations Manager, Plant Manager.

By understanding the various responsibilities of operations managers in different industries such as healthcare and manufacturing, we can appreciate their significant contributions to efficiency and innovation.

Operations manager skills: key foundations for success

After detailing the tasks of operations managers, it's clear these roles demand a specific set of skills. Next, we'll focus on the essential hard and soft skills needed to perform these duties effectively. These core competencies serve as the bedrock for any ops manager, with additional specialized skills developed or learned as dictated by the specific demands of their industry.

Hard skills

  • Analytical thinking: The ability to dissect complex problems, analyze data and make data-driven decisions is crucial. Operations managers must interpret performance metrics, financial reports and market trends to guide strategic planning and operational adjustments.
  • Project management: Understanding the principles of project management, including planning, scheduling, resource allocation and risk management, ensures that projects are completed on time and within budget.
  • Process optimization: Knowledge of identifying inefficiencies and implementing operational improvements through methodologies like Lean or Six Sigma is essential for enhancing productivity and reducing costs.
  • Technology proficiency: A keen interest and understanding of cutting-edge tools and systems that enhance workflows, improve efficiency and drive innovation. Operations managers should stay abreast of digital tools that simplify processes, facilitate data analysis and support strategic decision-making.

Scribe: operations manager

Soft skills

  • Leadership: Inspiring and guiding teams toward achieving operational goals while fostering a culture of accountability and continuous improvement.
  • Problem-solving: Quickly identifying solutions to unexpected challenges, balancing creativity with practicality to maintain smooth operations.
  • Effective communication: Clear and persuasive communication with stakeholders at all levels, including employees, executives, suppliers and customers, to ensure alignment and collaboration.
  • Adaptability: Staying flexible and responsive to the ever-changing business environment, market conditions and internal processes to lead teams through transitions effectively.

It’s clear that ops managers have a solid foundation of analytical, technological and interpersonal abilities. These competencies are essential for effectively managing operations across various sectors with precision and insight.

Learning the skills: operations manager education & training

A career as an operations manager involves a blend of education, certifications and hands-on experience. Here's how aspiring professionals can navigate these pathways to build a strong foundation and advance in this dynamic role.

Educational qualifications and degrees

Starting point: A Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration, Operations Management or a related field is the typical entry-level requirement. These programs lay the groundwork for business fundamentals, offering insights into supply chain management, organizational behavior and operations strategy.

Advanced studies: For those aiming for higher leadership positions, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) specializing in Operations Management is highly recommended. An MBA program can deepen strategic thinking, financial acumen and managerial skills, focusing on complex problem-solving and decision-making in operations management.

Specialized training programs and certifications

Enhancing your skills through specialized training and certifications is crucial for staying competitive and effective in operations management. Here are some core areas.

Project management

Training programs in project management are crucial for developing the ability to oversee projects from inception to completion. This includes mastering operational planning, scheduling, resource allocation and risk management.

  • Certification highlight: The Google Project Management professional certificate is a standout option, offering an immersive understanding of project management essentials, agile methodologies and strategic communication. This paid, 6-month course on Coursera culminates in a shareable certificate from Google, marking a significant credential for aspiring or current operations managers.

Process improvement

Lean Six Sigma training is indispensable for those looking to enhance organizational efficiency. These programs teach how to identify and eliminate waste, streamline processes and improve overall quality.

  • Certification highlight: The Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (Accredited) course on Udemy covers Lean Six Sigma principles applicable across industries. This 7-hour on-demand video course prepares learners for external exams and practical applications, including Lean Six Sigma tools in MS Excel.

Supply chain and quality management

Supply chain management training provides deep insights into optimizing logistics, inventory management and supplier relationships, which are essential for smooth operations. Quality management training, including ISO certification courses, helps operations managers ensure products and services meet customer expectations and comply with regulatory requirements.

  • Certification highlight: The Certified Operations Manager (COM) certification by AIBMC covers a comprehensive range of topics from operations strategies to service strategy and quality operations. The preparation involves training sessions and a thorough exam, underscoring a commitment to maintaining and updating quality management knowledge.

Real-world industry experience

  • Start with internships: Secure internships or entry-level positions in operations to gain hands-on experience. This practical exposure is invaluable for understanding the nuances of daily operational tasks and challenges.
  • Explore cross-functional opportunities: Gain experience in cross-functional roles or projects. This broadens your understanding of how different areas within an organization interconnect, enhancing your capability to manage operations holistically.
  • Commit to continuous learning: The operations management field is dynamic, with continuous advancements in technology and methodology. Embrace lifelong learning by staying current with industry trends, participating in workshops and engaging in professional development opportunities.

The career outlook for an operations manager: A world of opportunities

Now that we've navigated through what operations managers do, the skills they need and the path to getting there, let's talk about where this journey can take you. The career landscape for operations managers is vast and varied, offering plenty of room for exploration and growth. Let's dive into the different avenues this role can lead you down, the potential for those paychecks and just how fulfilling this career path can be.

Exploring the avenues

Operations management isn't a one-size-fits-all career — it's more like a key that unlocks numerous doors across various industries.

  • Supply chain specialist: Here, you're the maestro of the supply chain, ensuring everything from procurement to delivery runs as smoothly as a well-oiled machine.
  • Production manager: Picture yourself overseeing the heartbeat of manufacturing, ensuring that products are made efficiently, meet quality standards and are produced on time.
  • Logistics coordinator: In this role, you're the problem solver, ensuring goods navigate through logistical challenges to reach their scheduled destination.
  • Quality Assurance (QA) manager: If you have an eye for detail, this path lets you guarantee that every product or service hits the high-quality mark expected by customers.
  • Process improvement consultant: For those who love optimizing workflows, this role focuses on identifying inefficiencies and mapping out ways to streamline operations.

What about the pay?

If you're wondering, "Is being an operations manager a high-paying job?" the answer is a yes.

Recent figures from indicate that the average salary for an operations manager in the United States is $72,972 annually, complemented by benefits like profit sharing of approximately $7,500.

These earnings, especially attractive in positions requiring digital transformation expertise, highlight this career's rewarding financial potential. The competitive pay for operations managers, influenced by factors like industry, location and experience, mirrors their significant contribution to company success.

Growth prospects and job satisfaction

  • Career advancement: With experience, operations managers can advance to senior management positions, such as Director of Operations or Chief Operations Officer (COO), with broader strategic responsibilities.
  • Professional development: Continuous learning and professional certifications can further enhance career prospects, making oops managers candidates for various opportunities in diverse industries.
  • Job satisfaction: Many operations managers find significant satisfaction in their work, citing the dynamic nature of the role, the opportunity to solve complex problems and the impact of their work on the overall success of their organizations as critical factors contributing to job fulfillment.

Embarking on a career in operations management is stepping into a world brimming with possibilities. Whether the potential for a hefty salary drives you, the diversity of roles or the sheer satisfaction of making things run better, this career choice offers a fulfilling path packed with growth opportunities.

Operating ahead: Drive processes with technology

An operations manager's role, skills and educational journey underscore their pivotal position in any business. They orchestrate the seamless flow of activities, marrying strategy with efficiency.

Operations managers are now tasked with navigating a landscape where digital tools can make or break the efficiency of an organization’s process.

From automating routine tasks to harnessing data analytics for strategic insights, the role of technology in operations has never been more significant.

This shift demands a new breed of operations managers — ones who are as comfortable with digital tools as traditional operational strategies.

Scribe isn't just a tool in operations management — it's a stepping stone towards operational excellence in the digital era. If you're searching for ways to improve documentation and knowledge-sharing processes, look no further than Scribe.

Sign up for Scribe and start seamlessly documenting any screen-based process and experience the immediate positive impact on your operational workflow.

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