Operations Management vs. Production Management: Differences, Tools, and Uses

Operations Management vs. Production Management: Differences, Tools, and Uses

As the gears of industry turn, two types of management keep the machine well-oiled: operations management and production management. 

Operations management refers to the administration of business activities that lead to the production of goods and services. In contrast, production management is a subset of operations management that focuses on the production process of goods. 

Though closely related, these two facets of business operations serve distinct roles in the industry, making it essential to differentiate them. As we delve into this topic, we will explore how operations and production management significantly affect various sectors, from manufacturing operations to service-oriented firms.

In this article we will also:

  • Explain what does production mean
  • Define production
  • Define production in economics
  • Examine core functions of production and business functions overall
  • Discuss product operations manager staffing agencies

How Operations Differs from Production Management

Operations management and production management, while they both oversee crucial aspects of a company’s resources, have their differences. Operations management aims to oversee all business activities involved in creating a product or service, encompassing project management, quality assurance, and inventory management. 

It deals with designing, managing, and improving the systems that create and deliver a company’s products or services.

On the other hand, production management refers specifically to managing the production process of goods. Production managers are responsible for overseeing the transformation process of raw materials into finished goods. 

They are tasked with quality control, planning, and maintaining efficient production processes to meet customer requirements.

These differences between production and operation management are essential as they guide managers in effectively managing the company’s operations. While product managers focus on the efficiency of the manufacturing process, operations managers consider the broader picture, including factors like market trends, customer demand, and financial planning.

Operations Management by Definition and Career Significance

Operations management is a vital aspect of any company’s success. By definition, it involves the planning, organizing, and supervising the production, manufacturing, or provision of services. The primary objective of operations management is to ensure efficient and effective use of resources to meet customer needs.

Operations managers have a critical role in various industries, including:

  • Manufacturing concerns: Operations managers ensure the smooth running of manufacturing operations, looking after the entire production system from procurement of materials to delivery of finished products.
  • Service-oriented firms: In service firms, operations managers look after customer satisfaction and quality, ensuring services are delivered efficiently and effectively.

Production Management by Definition and Career Significance

Production management, on the other hand, is primarily concerned with the production of goods. It involves the administration of the conversion process that transforms raw materials into finished products, which includes managing inventory levels, implementing quality control measures, and ensuring the output produced conforms to customer demands and quality standards.

Key areas where a production manager plays a significant role include:

  • Manufacturing concerns: Here, production managers ensure that the production schedules are met, manage the use of raw materials, and see that quality standards are maintained.
  • Mass production industries: Production managers are tasked with ensuring continuous and efficient production processes, often using techniques such as just-in-time production.

Production Management and Operations Management as a Team

While operations and production management have different focuses, they work together, especially in large operations. Together, they aim to align the company’s strategic planning with its operational activities, ensuring it meets its objectives efficiently and effectively. 

They both aim to maximize customer satisfaction while minimizing operating costs, making them a vital cog in the wheel of the industry. 

Whether it’s managing the production process or overseeing the entire operation, these two management styles complement each other, keeping the industrial machine running smoothly.

Operations Management Tools

Operations management tools are essential for driving efficiency and effectiveness within an organization. They facilitate strategic planning and ensure that a company’s resources are utilized optimally. They serve as an important part of a company’s organizational structure.

Efficiency and Effectiveness; Vision and Strategy

Operations management places a strong emphasis on efficiency and effectiveness. It involves developing a clear vision and strategy aligning with the company’s objectives. This approach guides decision-making and helps the company stay on track with its business operations.

Added Value, Process Design, and Strategic Improvements

Operations management tools like value stream mapping help identify wasteful activities and promote added value in process design. This involves constant evaluation and strategic improvements in the transformation process, ensuring the company remains competitive.

Integration of Supply Chain

Supply chain integration is another crucial aspect of operations management. It involves coordinating all activities in the supply chain, from the procurement of raw materials to the delivery of finished goods. This coordination helps to reduce waste and improve efficiency.

Systems and Processes and Importance of Communications

Operations management ensures the smooth functioning of systems and processes through effective communication. Managers can efficiently coordinate activities and make informed decisions by maintaining clear communication channels.

Translating Data into Usable Methods and Performance

Operations management involves the analysis of operational data to develop usable methods and improve performance. This includes tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) and using statistical process control to ensure quality and efficiency.

Production Management Tools

Like operations management, production management also utilizes tools to enhance efficiency and performance.

Importance of Efficiency and Optimization

Production management places great importance on efficiency and optimization. Tools like capacity planning and inventory management help maximize productivity while minimizing waste, contributing to a company’s financial health.

Capacity Planning and the Role of Ongoing Improvement

Capacity planning, a crucial production management tool, involves determining the capacity to meet changing product demands. Coupled with a commitment to continuous improvement, it can lead to significant operational efficiencies.

Evolution of Lean Manufacturing and Cost Benefits

The concept of lean manufacturing, another essential tool in production management, emphasizes waste reduction and efficiency. Adopting lean manufacturing techniques can result in considerable cost benefits and improved product quality.

Understanding Just-in-time Production (JIT) and Total Quality Management (TQM)

Just-in-time production (JIT) is a strategy to reduce in-process inventory and associated costs. Total Quality Management (TQM) is a comprehensive and structured approach to organizational management that seeks to improve the quality of products and services through ongoing refinements in response to continuous feedback. 

Both are crucial tools for achieving operational excellence in production management.

Capitalizing on Six Sigma Methodology and Agile Manufacturing

The Six Sigma methodology, a key tool in production management, aims to eliminate defects and improve overall process quality. Agile manufacturing complements this by promoting adaptability and swift responses to changes in the market, making the company more competitive.

What Is Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)?

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a proactive approach that seeks to prevent waste by maintaining and improving manufacturing systems, equipment, and processes. It involves everyone in the organization, from operators to senior management, optimizing equipment effectiveness.

Defining the Theory of Constraints (TOC)

The Theory of Constraints (TOC) is a management philosophy that identifies the most significant limiting factor (the constraint) that stands in the way of achieving a goal and then systematically improving it until it is no longer the limiting factor. It’s a critical tool in managing production schedules and resources.

Striving for Continuous Improvement (Kaizen)

Continuous improvement, or Kaizen, is a philosophy that focuses on making ongoing small improvements in the production process. By continually striving to improve, organizations can achieve higher levels of quality and efficiency, benefiting both the company and its customers.

Uses of Operations Management

Strategic Planning

Operations management plays a crucial role in strategic planning. It provides a roadmap for achieving the company’s objectives and aligns various business activities with its vision and mission.

Quality Management

Quality management is an integral part of operations management, focusing on maintaining and enhancing product or service quality. It involves implementing quality control measures, establishing standards, conducting inspections, and driving continuous improvement initiatives to meet or exceed customer expectations. 

By setting benchmarks, conducting regular assessments, and promoting a quality culture, operations managers ensure consistent excellence, customer satisfaction, and organizational success.


In finance, operations management ensures efficient utilization of resources, reducing operating costs and increasing profitability. It aids in financial planning and controlling costs across various operations.

Production Design

Operations management is critical in production design, deciding on the most efficient production process. This involves choosing the right technology, capacity, layout, and roles for the workforce.

Inventory management

Inventory management is a crucial aspect of operations management that focuses on efficiently managing inventory levels to meet customer demands while minimizing costs. Operations managers are responsible for optimizing order quantities by considering lead time, demand variability, and carrying costs. They determine reorder points to trigger replenishment orders promptly, avoiding stockouts and ensuring uninterrupted supply. 

By implementing just-in-time (JIT) practices, operations managers aim to minimize inventory holding costs while maintaining a lean and responsive supply chain. They carefully balance inventory levels to avoid excessive inventory, which can tie up capital and increase storage costs. Effective inventory management enables organizations to meet customer needs promptly, reduce holding costs, and optimize overall operational efficiency.


Operations management is crucial in enabling businesses to forecast and anticipate future demand, facilitating effective planning and optimization of production schedules. By leveraging data-driven techniques and analysis, operations management allows organizations to gain insights into market trends and customer preferences, empowering them to make informed decisions regarding production levels, resource allocation, and inventory management. 

By accurately predicting demand, businesses can proactively align their operations to meet customer needs, minimize stockouts or excess inventory, optimize resource utilization, and ultimately enhance customer satisfaction and operational efficiency.

Use of Production Management

Production Control

Production management ensures smooth and efficient production control, maintaining the flow of raw materials and finished goods. It focuses on minimizing disruptions, avoiding overproduction, and reducing waste.

Cost and Quality Control

Cost and quality control are vital aspects of production management. It involves monitoring the production processes to ensure quality standards are met while minimizing costs, and increasing customer satisfaction and profitability.


Scheduling is crucial in production management to ensure timely delivery of products. This involves planning and controlling production schedules to meet customer demands and deadlines.

Machinery Maintenance

Regular machinery maintenance is critical in production management to avoid costly breakdowns and delays, ensuring smooth and continuous operations.

Career Goals of Production and Operations Managers

Production and operations management professionals play critical roles in various industries. Most positions require a bachelor’s degree in business administration or a related field, though many managers have a master’s degree or significant work experience. They should be proficient in project management, strategic planning, and process improvement. Here’s a typical career path:


  • Entry-level positions in inventory management or quality control
  • Mid-level roles as production supervisors or operations analysts
  • Senior roles as production managers or operations managers
  • Executive positions such as Director of Operations or Chief Operating Officer


For further clarity, let’s answer some frequently asked questions:

How is operations management different from production management?

Operations management is broader, encompassing all aspects of business operations, while production management focuses specifically on the production process in manufacturing concerns.

What are examples of production and operations management?

Production management involves overseeing the production process in a factory, such as managing inventory levels and ensuring quality control. Operations management might include planning the delivery route in a logistics company or scheduling appointments in a hospital.

Is operation management also called production management?

Operation management is different from production management. While they overlap, production management is a subset of operations management, which includes service-oriented firms.

What are the different aspects of operations and production management?

Operations management involves strategic planning, forecasting, process design, and quality management. Production management focuses on efficient production processes, cost and quality control, scheduling, and machinery maintenance.

Production and Operations Management Explained: Summary

Operations management and production management are two critical functions in any organization. They differ in scope – with operations management being broader – but both aim for efficiency and effectiveness in delivering goods and services. Utilizing these management styles’ right tools, strategies, and principles can significantly enhance a company’s competitive advantage and customer satisfaction.