The position of operations analyst is a support role that provides solutions to business problems including how to best manage and allocate money, people, processes, time, materials, assets and equipment. Solutions provided must fulfill the performance obligations of the business. Operations analyst positions can be found in many different aspects or departments of a business—sales, production, finance, purchasing and information management.
An operations analyst's responsibilities include providing data assessments and measuring performance to support a particular strategy or direction the company is taking or wants to take. For example, a sales team operations analyst supports a sales department by providing reports, graphs and other analysis on monthly sales figures. The data provided indicate goals met, goals missed and areas needing improvement. The analyst may also perform competitive research, track trends, be required to manage databases, integrate multiple sources of data, and prepare business reviews and presentations.
Bachelor's degrees are required to fill a position as a junior-level operations analyst. Senior positions usually require a master's degree. Analyst positions that are geared toward in-depth research may require computer science, mathematics, statistics or economics degrees. Some industries may require a senior applicant to have at least one degree in engineering. Other degrees acceptable for an operation's analyst position are management, finance, data management, information management and business administration.
Skills in problem solving, database administration, programming, and using and developing software are needed in many operations analyst jobs. The ability to interact with a variety of people, knowledge about a particular industry, and proficiency in a particular type of software or computer system may also be required. Operations analysts may be working with upper management one day and assembly line workers the next when gathering information.
Performing As an Analyst
An operations analyst begins a project by listening to management describe a particular problem needing to be solved. For example, an analyst may be asked to evaluate ways to reduce waste and lower cost of manufacturing a particular product. The analyst then probes the production process, the purchasing process, inventory, accounting and the materials used on the production line. He may look at a statistical model of the perfect process versus the existing process, conduct research into recycling and reuse of resulting scrap metal, or even analyze training of workers. The result will be a set of recommendations allowing upper management to choose the best solution.
Other titles using the same skill set as an operations analyst are management analyst, operations research analyst, business analyst and business development analyst. All of these positions are charged with the task of helping businesses optimize and build value and profit. The Department of Labor predicts an increase in the employment opportunity for operations research analysts of 11 percent through 2016.