Though a variety of businesses hire operations planners, the role is a common one at engineering and technology companies. Operations planners aid in seeing a project to completion, so they can also be indispensable for governments and contracting firms.
Designing and Proposing Projects
Operations planners are typically charged with working on a specific goal or set of goals. In this capacity, they may be required to propose projects designed to meet a company's needs, or to intervene when someone else's project isn't up to snuff. For example, an operations planner working in a data center might develop a plan for more effectively managing data or ensuring that workers are sufficiently educated about company processes.
Measuring Results and Benchmarks
To meet a project's goals, operations planners frequently must develop specific benchmarks for a project. They then must devise systems for ensuring that the project remains on-task and continues to meet its goals. For example, he might suggest software to track employee behavior and progress, or he could conduct regular inspections of a work site to ensure that the project is on schedule and budget. When a project isn't meeting its goals, the operations planner may design a plan for getting it back on track.
Managing Employees and Customers
Operations planners often function in a managerial role. They may directly oversee employees, suggest employees for a project, or set standards for the skills an employee must have to work on the project. This typically requires significant technical competence, so operational planners aren't just managers. They also typically have extensive experience in the area in which they're managing a project. For example, someone in this role who is working on an electrical grid likely has extensive electrical and engineering knowledge.
Addressing Regulatory Issues
Many industries face complex regulatory issues that can quickly sideline a project. Operations planners frequently address these challenges by remaining up-to-date on regulatory changes, seeking relevant licences and authorizations, and informing management of any potential challenges. At some businesses, operations planners also conduct inspections to ensure that a project and its supplies comply with both government regulations and company policies.