An operations director is typically an upper-management position tasked with overseeing an organization’s daily operations. This position may also be referred to as the director of operations or chief operations officer, depending on the size of the company. Duties will often include supervising employees, purchasing economic resources for production, negotiating with vendors and suppliers, research and development, marketing and sales, or other activities directly affecting the company’s regular business operations. The operations director will also compute metrics for performance evaluation to determine how well the company completes tasks and activities.
Because large organizations often have specific educational and professional requirements for this position, most operations directors have advanced degrees and several years' experience within the industry in which their company operates. Some directors may also have professional certification, which helps them focus on making improvements and defining goals or objectives. The director often works in close contact with the chief financial officer, chief executive officer or board of directors. Therefore, the operations director must have a sense of professionalism that helps him prepare reports and present this information to the executives responsible for making decisions.
While most companies and organizations have an upper-level operations management position, the span of control for this position depends on the organizational structure. Two common types of organizational structure are centralized and decentralized. In a centralized company, the span of control is often small, with the operations director directly supervising from one to four employees. This will result in a tall organizational structure with several management layers. Each manager will oversee a small number of employees for their individual span of control.
Decentralized organizations will have a wider span of control for the operations director. This can result in direct reports of 10 or more employees, which will create a flatter organizational structure. This results in less management layers and more interaction between employees.
An operations director will also need soft skills for her position. Soft skills in business are the intangibles an individual brings to the job, such as personality traits, communication techniques, personal habits and other unique characteristics an individual brings to the job. Possessing a skill set of this nature helps operations directors negotiate with other companies and resolve conflicts, which are quite common in larger organizations. While education and experience is certainly important, an upper-level management position requires individuals to bring more to the table in order to advance the company’s mission, vision, or values in the business environment.