MLD 601:
Operations Management


Meeting Times

  • Tues/Thurs: 12:00-1:15pm (A and B)

  • Thurs: 7:30-8:45 pm (B)

  • Recitation: Fridays: 9:00-10:15am

Have you noticed…the provision of inefficient and/or poor quality public services?

Have you thought…there must be a better way.

Then this is the course for you!

Course Overview

This course is an introduction to Operations Management with a focus on the public sector. It teaches how managers create public value by delivering services effectively and efficiently. We will examine value considering public welfare and safety, social equity, and resource utilization across a range of services from healthcare to education to transportation.

Our examination of effectiveness is based on the ‘rights’ – right service, right quality, right time and place. Efficiency centers on lowest total cost – direct provider costs, direct recipient costs, indirect societal costs and optimal use of resources.

The course begins with a look at value creation in the public sector. Next, quality service delivery will be explored followed by techniques for efficient delivery of services. With this foundation, performance measurement and management will be examined. The course continues with a look at the role of technology and operations management in the developing world. At the end of the course students will be able to:

1. See opportunities to improve operations.

2. Diagnose the problems and barriers to creating value.

3. Design effective and efficient solutions.

4. Apply concepts to solve client issues.

The course features experiential learning through a consulting project with a local government agency or non-profit organization. Students work in teams of 4-6 classmates to tackle a real operations management issue facing a client. Past clients have included the City of Boston, Boston Public Schools, Children’s Hospital, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, Massachusetts Department of Youth Services, Massachusetts Department of Revenue, and Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy. The projects begin the second week of classes and culminate in a presentation to the class and client as well as a formal report at the end of term.

The course will focus on the provision of services. As such it will be unlike traditional courses in Operations Management that focus on manufacturing products. Rather students will learn how organizations provide services and information to produce public value.

Goal of Operations Management

Creating public value by providing quality services, efficiently.

Course Goals

  1. See opportunities to improve operations.

  2. Diagnose the problems and barriers.

  3. Design effective and efficient solutions.

  4. Apply concepts to solve client issues.

Why Take this Course?

5. Learn the core concepts of operations management.

4. Gain practical knowledge you can apply to solve problems on Day 1 in any setting.

3. Have a reference toolkit for Day 365.

2. Hone your skills adding real value to a local agency.

1. Have fun.

Course Roadmap


We will begin the course by looking at how operations management creates public value.

Quality Service Delivery

This section covers key concepts for delivering quality services including TQM, moments of truth, process mapping, quality via reengineering, and quality via employee engagement.

Efficient Service Delivery

This section of the course shows you tools and techniques for greater efficiency in the delivery of services: organizing workflows, managing capacity / throughput / utilization / bottlenecks, optimizing queues, addressing demand peaks, applying lean concepts and delivering services through a supply chain.

Performance Measurement

How do you know you are improving operations? This section provides tools and management techniques for assessing effectiveness and efficiency.

Role of

This section addresses the fundamental question all managers should ask when introducing a new technology into their organization: What value does the technology add? We examine this question through a number of cases, looking at the operational and strategic benefits of IT.

Ops Mgt in the Developing World

Operations managers in developing countries often face issues that push the basic concepts to the edge. As we wrap up the course, we will explore how managers can navigate these challenges.

Client Project

Goal: Apply concepts to solve real problem

Process: Soup to nuts consulting

Teams: 4-6 students (best efforts assignment)

Cautions: Lots of time; group work; professional reports; 40% of your grade


Pre-class: Context and application

  • Case studies

  • Academic texts

  • Practitioner materials

  • Pre-class videos

Class: Apply concepts; discuss issues/nuances

  • Group discussion/debate – solution focused

  • Simulations and experiments

  • The bottom line


More application of the concepts; Special topics; highly recommended

Class Norms

  1. Start on time; end on time

  2. If not…email

  3. Prepare and participate

  4. Cold calling is fair game

  5. Expect polite pushback; you may do the same

  6. Do not understand…ask

  7. Frustrated…tell me

  8. I can not spel – no laughing


Reengineered Process: 25%

(individual problem analysis; oral 1-on-1 presentation)

Capacity Analysis Exam (take home): 20%

Client Project (presentation and report; client view; team 360): 40%

Class Participation: 15%