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Business operations: delivering value

The core of any enterprise is the set of processes that must take place to deliver goods and services that provide value to customers and other stakeholders. To effectively design and manage business operations requires an appreciation of their strategic importance, an understanding of the human and technical factors that impact on their effectiveness, and mastery of appropriate analytical techniques. In this module, concepts and principles are taught using case studies spanning all sectors of the economy: public or private, large or small, manufacturing or service-based, and you’ll have opportunities to apply your learning to your own context.


Start End England fee Register
01 May 2015 Oct 2015 £1415.00

Registration closes 31/03/15 (places subject to availability)

Click to register
May 2015 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

What you will study

The field covered by this module is traditionally known as operations management; however, this module treats the organisation as a set of business processes rather than a collection of functions, and emphasises the need for cross-functional integration. The module aims to equip managers with relevant knowledge and skills to support their active involvement in making the business processes in their organisation more effective and efficient in meeting the needs of their stakeholders.

This module is for:

  • current and aspiring operations managers
  • those who have backgrounds in other functional areas of management but who wish to enhance their understanding of operations management issues
  • anyone with an interest in improving operational effectiveness and efficiency.

Block 1: Operations, Technology and Stakeholder Value

The overall aim of this block is to demonstrate the critical strategic importance of effective operations processes to all enterprises. You will explore the multiple objectives of operations, and the many different interfaces that the operations manager must be concerned with. You will analyse the links between operations processes, business strategy and competitive advantage in terms of various types of value to be delivered to stakeholder groups, and the ways in which this value is achieved - through appropriate design and management of products and processes and appropriate deployment of technology. The topics covered include:

  • the process view of business operations
  • operations and business strategy
  • stakeholder value
  • value from products
  • value from processes
  • process technology.

Activities and the assignment associated with this block require you to apply your learning to your choice of organisation by critically appraising the design and deployment of operations systems to meet the organisation’s strategic aims.

Block 2: Operations by design

Block 1 established what operations systems need to achieve - Block 2 builds on this by dealing with how operations strategy can be put into practice through effective design, planning and control of operations processes. The block discusses the various factors, human and technical, that influence operations success, and you will learn to apply analytical concepts and techniques to audit existing processes and design new ones. You will explore the following topics:

  • design for operations
  • supply network design and management
  • design and implementation
  • the human factor
  • planning and control
  • managing supply and demand.

Activities and the assignment associated with this block require you to apply your learning to the detailed analysis and design of an operations process of your choice.

Block 3: Improving Operations

This block is concerned with the improvement aspects of operations management. Once in place, even superior systems cannot be allowed to rest on their laurels – the environment will almost certainly change too rapidly, not least through the emergence of competitors unencumbered by the conventional wisdom of the sector. You will explore and critique a range of improvement methodologies with reference to practical cases. The topics covered include:

  • the context of improvement
  • evaluation of performance gaps
  • approaches to improvement
  • sustaining improvement
  • improvement techniques.

Activities and the assignment associated with this block involve the design of an improvement programme for an operations system of your choice.

All three blocks also draw on additional online and text-based resources including video and text-based case studies, the set book and the module reader. Throughout the module you are encouraged to develop postgraduate study skills (such as information literacy including use of online library facilities) that are likely to be of benefit throughout your masters-level studies. There is opportunity to customise your studies to some extent through self-selection of examples and case studies relevant to your sector of interest.


There are no entry requirements but we do assume that you have already done some study, up to HNC, HND or bachelors degree level, in a relevant subject area. 

Your spoken and written English must be of an adequate standard for postgraduate study. If English is not your first language, we recommend that you will need a minimum overall score of 6 and minimum score of 5.5 in each of the four components: reading, writing, speaking and listening under the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Please see the IELTS website for details.

If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.


T883 is an optional module in our:

This module can also count towards C02, F02, F03 and F05, which are no longer available to new students.

Some postgraduate qualifications allow study to be chosen from other subject areas. These qualifications allow most postgraduate modules to count towards them. We advise you to refer to the relevant qualification descriptions for information on the circumstances in which this module can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements may change.

Excluded combinations

Sometimes you will not be able to count a module towards a qualification if you have already taken another module with similar content. To check any excluded combinations relating to this module, visit our excluded combination finder or check with an adviser before registering.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

If you have a disability

You will need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer and the internet. 

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.

Study materials

What's included

Module texts, a study guide, case studies, DVD, set book, module reader, assessment book, computing software.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. You may also be required to perform other tasks, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment. The additional software for these tasks will either be provided or is freely available.

We recommend either of the following:

  • Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will be responsible for monitoring your progress on the module, marking and commenting on your written work and whom you can contact for advice and guidance. A programme of face-to-face tutorials will be arranged at one or two UK locations and students will also have the opportunity to engage in real time online tutorials. There is also a separate online forum for all students on T883.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Professional recognition

The Open University is registered with the Institute of Materials, and Institution of Mechanical Engineers as a Continuing Professional Development provider.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in May 2015 when it will be available for the last time. 

How to register

To register a place on this course return to the top of the page and use the Click to register button.

Distance learning

The Open University is the world's leading provider of flexible, high quality distance learning. Unlike other universities we are not campus based. You will study in a flexible way that works for you whether you're at home, at work or on the move. As an OU student you'll be supported throughout your studies - your tutor or study adviser will guide and advise you, offer detailed feedback on your assignments, and help with any study issues. Tuition might be in face-to-face groups, via online tutorials, or by phone.

For more information about distance learning at the OU read Study explained.

Course facts
About this course:
Course code T883
Credits 30
OU Level Postgraduate
SCQF level 11
FHEQ level 7
Course work includes:
3 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No residential school

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