Introduction to Operations Management 


Having missed the first installment of the Introduction to Operations Management I eagerly waited for a second run of the same.
In the last two years I have started to plan and manage other people's activities (more than a purely technical job like I had before that) so I was interested in seeing if this could provide some technique or insight that could be helpful in my day to day job.

(Btw, head straight to Wikipedia for a primer on what Operations Management is, in case you don't know already)

The course can be taken at different "levels". You can just follow the lessons and just try your hand at the homework, you can do that plus a final exam (which will get you some grade, assuming you finish homework and exam in a complete and timely manner) or you can take part in "COP".

COP stands for Coursera Operation Management Project - in this you take a real business operation you have actual experience with (it could be something you are working at, or even just the place where you have lunch every day) and prepare five short essays detailing different aspects of the process you want to improve, including suggestions on how to change it and a final "experiment" to see if you can actually make it better.

Homework and exam are - as it is standard for Online Course, automatically graded. There were some minor snafus in how to correctly answer some quantitative question (e.g. "if my calculation comes up with 3.4% should I write 3.4? 0.034?) but there were very few of these compared to other courses I took, maybe because it was already the second edition and someone else paid a higher price in the previous installment.

The COP essays, on the other hand, are peer graduated.

I went for the full option (including COP)

I found the whole course very well presented (in a sort of spartan mode, as you can see from the screenshots it's all substance and not much about flashy slides). The teacher is German, and this maybe helped me (a non native English speaker) to follow the videos without having to use subtitles or replay the same section over.

The course is based on Cachon, Gerard, Christian Terwiesch, Matching Supply with Demand: An Introduction to Operations Management, 3rd edition, Irwin - McGraw Hill, 2012 (ISBN 978-0073525204, 507 pages) - the textbook is completely optional, and due to its high price a special abridged edition (electronic only) is offered at a vastly more affordable price to whoever enrolled in the course.
I found it quite helpful, and will probably be used as a reference in the future, so I generally suggest to get the cut-down version offered for the course itself.

Final Result: 93.7% - with distinction. The "distinction" part is for having successfully completed the COP, too, and having good grades in it (I suppose).
My best result so far, and I am quite happy with the new additions to my professional toolset. Of course it was just introductory, but I still feel that I can use some of what I learned both professionally and in my day to day life.

Course Syllabus

The course is broken up into six modules:

  • Introduction
  • Process analysis
  • Productivity
  • Responsiveness
  • Quality
  • Product variety