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Operations strategy: definition and impact on projects 7 min read
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It’s one thing to have an overall vision for a successful, impassioned business endeavor. It’s another thing entirely to determine how to plan and choreograph the various moving parts of people, processes, and products to achieve that business’s original goals and mission. Having outstanding talent on your team or producing a great product is simply not enough, especially in today’s competitive marketplace, which is why your operations strategy is the key to business success.

So what is an operations strategy, and how can it have a make-or-break impact on your business’s growth? Let’s take a look at the many components operations managers need to consider to maintain a competitive edge over the competition and ensure the delivery of quality goods and services while keeping their customers satisfied and building toward the company’s overall mission.

“Operations strategy” is a part of our Project Management Glossary — check out the full list of terms and definitions!

What is operations strategy?

An operations strategy refers to the system an organization implements to achieve its long-term goals and mission. It involves decisions based on multiple factors, including product management, supply chain, inventory, forecasting, scheduling, quality, and facilities planning and management.  For service providers, operations strategy concerns financing, marketing, human resources, and service that matches the company’s goal and mission.

When creating an operations strategy, facets of your business such as management of resources play a large role in shaping how processes are completed, along with who completes them. There are also elements of project management that must be considered, including any limitations relating to logistics, market situations, or team collaboration. While these factors are part of the daily operations of your business, they must still align with the company’s overall mission.

How does operations strategy fit into daily project needs

Since an operations strategy requires multiple factors that must all be considered in concert with each other, creating one demands an eagle-eye view of the company as a whole. In a product-oriented business structure, the daily concerns of an operation strategy include everything from procurement of raw materials to the final logistics involved with delivering a product to the end-user. It also factors in staff, product development, quality assurance and issues, plant capabilities, and forecasting models that focus on long-term objectives.

As your team works to meet company goals, there needs to be a strategy in place for everything from the suppliers they work with to the applications and software they use to accomplish tasks. When these processes work together seamlessly, a well-planned operations strategy is often the reason.

How an effective operations strategy can positively impact your project

Michael Porter, professor and director of the Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness at Harvard Business School, wrote, “The essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.” An effective and successful operations strategy must consider the strengths and opportunities of the business but also fully accept the limitations and challenges it faces.

Putting together an operational plan can help you define company goals and create a detailed outline for how each employee, team, or department contributes to them. If your business strategy is well executed, this operational plan can be fine-tuned over time to factor in changes that might occur along the way.

Your operations strategy is a vital component to the health of your business, and should be a consistently evolving mechanism to sharpen your company’s focus and drive growth.

Benefits of a cohesive collection of operations strategies

A cohesive operations strategy requires a consistent practice of reflection on what has worked (or not worked) in the past. It also must foster the alignment of people, processes, and products with the company’s overall mission to ensure long-term sustainability and growth. If your operations are planned while focusing on your corporate strategy and overall mission, this alignment will naturally occur.

5 types of operations strategies

There are five different types of operations strategies that can be used based on a company’s business model and long-term goals. They are outlined below, along with a few details about how these strategies are put into place.

  1. Core competency strategies: This strategy involves identifying the core business practices within your company that can leverage existing strength to maximize profitability. If your company has established a reputation for providing high-quality goods and services that are consistent, this core competency could remain a long-term strategy that ensures sustainable growth.
  2. Corporate strategies: This strategy is most concerned with your company’s mission statement and involves developing production initiatives, key performance indicators (KPIs), and decision-making processes that will help reach the desired mission. Your teams will then work to implement these initiatives and processes, which can be measured and analyzed for necessary changes that should take place.
  3. Competitive strategies: This strategy involves distinguishing your business from others in the same space, and requires consideration of what your competitors are doing. Your strategy would then consist of finding quantifiable ways to differentiate your business and set it apart from the rest.
  4. Product or service strategies: This strategy requires focus on quality control of existing products or services, as well as development of new offerings. Product managers have a key role to play in this approach.
  5. Customer-driven strategies: This strategy is all about the customer’s experience, and all operational decisions are determined by looking at it. Your sales and marketing will likely drive this strategy, which involves engaging your customers and altering your strategy based on their feedback.

Execute winning operations strategies with

From automating routine tasks to accessing multiple collaborative tools through one interface, streamlines various operational processes to facilitate better use of your valuable resources. Our Work OS brings teams together, whether working remotely or in a shared physical location, and provides tools for project managers to track performance and ensure deadlines are met.

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Frequently asked questions

What is operations strategy in operations management?

Operations management involves the planning and production of goods or services offered by a business, and requires careful planning in the form of an operations strategy. An effective management strategy involves determining how labor, materials, and technology can be best harnessed for efficient output.

What are the 4 competitive priorities in an operations strategy?

The four competitive priorities for operations strategy and management include cost, quality, flexibility, and speed. Consideration and strategy concerning how to stand apart from the competition in some or all of these will drive your company’s growth and continued success.

What does a strategy and operations manager do?

A strategy and operations manager looks at the resources a company has at its disposal and determines how to best manage those resources to achieve long-term sustainability. The manager then uses data collection and metrics for changing operations strategies to achieve greater productivity while reducing costs and driving customer service.

The importance of operations strategies

Your operations strategy is a vital component to the health of your business, and should be a consistently evolving mechanism to sharpen your company’s focus and drive growth. Streamlining your daily operations and communications through’s platform gives you the tools you need to keep all the moving parts organized and accountable, ensuring everyone is on the same page with your operational strategy.

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