Creating or Outsourcing an Operations Team

Summary:  Once a food start-up decides to staff up key roles of the company they have to understand the options they have.  When the subject of operations comes up then they need to understand when it is important to being manpower on-board in operations roles.  Traditional operations managers are in charge of purchasing, manufacturing and the overall operations of a food business.

The actual job duties of an operations manager relate to how a product line is manufactured:

  • Manufacturing in a Commercial Kitchen: At this level of business an operations manager role usually does not exist. The founders/owners of a brand usually handle the operations role themselves which includes the actual manufacturing of a brand.
  • Manufacturing Through a Co-Packer: An operations manager in these cases will handle the purchasing of ingredients, packaging and sometimes the relationship management with the co-packer as well. They will also manage the office needs, logistics/warehousing and more.
  • Self-Manufacturing: An operations manager becomes most important when a brand group has their own facility. The operations manager will primarily be in-charge of running the facility and its needs or sometimes the team that runs the facility itself.

Out-Sourcing the Operations Structure

Out-Sourcing the Operations Structure:  There are companies out there who specialize in being hired to manage key areas of the business including operations.  An example company who is well-known is being hired for operations is Whole Brain Consulting (

Whole Brain Consulting specializes in other key areas necessary for the success of a food business including supply chain management, food safety and regulatory compliance, contract manufacturing management and logistics.

Creating or Outsourcing an Quality Assurance Team

Quality Assurance Definition:  Quality assurance is a way of preventing mistakes and defects in manufactured products and avoiding problems when delivering products or services to customers; which ISO 9000 defines as “part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled.”

The Importance of This Role:  A food start-up’s founders usually will perform these roles (mostly in relation to their manufacturing within a commercial kitchen or a co-packer).  If the food start-up has their own manufacturing then a QA role is essential.  Whole Brain Consulting also helps in QA needs if a company wants to out-source the role.

Example Quality Assurance Manager Job Description:

Responsible for managing the Plant Quality Assurance Department. Ensures high quality products that meet customer expectations while maintaining compliance with USDA/other applicable regulations, as well as company policies and procedures. Provides solid leadership to achieve company, plant, and department goals through various management, evaluation and improvement skills and strategies that improve overall quality and profitability. Masters and implements all QA policies, programs and procedures. Manages and effectively follows up on multiple projects and assignments.

Core Responsibilities

  • Works with QA staff members to prevent process or product failures. Focuses on continuous improvement of product quality through the development of quality plans, process controls, attention to process details and specifications and quality training.
  • Responsible for overseeing the QA staff and ensures that all QA and Regulatory programs are followed, makes sound decisions and executes quality oversight.
  • Executes quality objectives as directed by the Corporate Quality Assurance Manager, as well as the adherence and execution of all company policies and programs associated with Foods Safety, Quality, and Regulatory Compliance.
  • Responsible for managing performance plans, work schedules, vacations, assignments, and special projects as well as training and personnel development for direct reports.
  • Ensures that operational and pre-operational sanitation is acceptable. Implements and develops necessary verification activities including micro sampling to verify the effectiveness of sanitation activities. Ensures GMP and Sanitation audits are conducted by the department as required with documented corrective actions and follow-up as necessary. Takes action in response to negative micro and Shelf Life data to drive improvement.
  • Completes reassessments of SQF Quality Plan if:
  • addition or removal of processing steps
  • Introduction of new product with processing steps not in currently included in Quality Analysis
  • At a minimum SQF Quality Plan is reassessed annually.
  • Oversees the development, implementation, review and maintenance of the SQF System, including food safety fundamentals outlined in 2.4.2, the food safety plan outlined in 2.4.3 and the food quality plan outlined in 2.4.4;
  • Takes appropriate action to maintain the integrity of the SQF System.
  • Communicates to relevant personnel all information essential to ensure the effective implementation and maintenance of the SQF System.
  • In the absence of key personnel the employee’s supervisor or qualified designee (one that has been trained in the key employee’s duties) is responsible to complete or delegate the completion of all required tasks and responsibilities.