The main difference between a chief operating officer (COO) and an operations manager is the title. A COO is an integral part of the chain of command, while an operations manager does not manage any equipment or an operations team. The COO is responsible for overseeing business functions, while the operations manager creates the operational base on which the rest of the organization can work. The Vice President of Operations plays a much more hands-on role with the operations team and their daily tasks.
They are responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of a company, while the COO looks to the future. The COO is the official executive of the operating sector, and reports directly to them. The Director of Operations (DOO) is lower than the COO in a company's leadership hierarchy and acts as a coordination mechanism between management and employees. The CEO is generally considered to be the highest ranking employee in a company, while the president is second in charge.
However, depending on the company, their roles may be different. The evolution of office technology and organizational structures have made it easier for senior executives to manage daily operations. The CEO determines what functions the COO or operations executive is responsible for, but overall responsibility remains with them. Vice Presidents of Operations are often strategists and decision makers who use data and metrics to plan for the company's future.
In these cases, since they manage long-term strategy and the COO oversees day-to-day operations, they may rank higher than the COO. Understanding what makes a successful COO is vital because their effectiveness is fundamental to many companies' success.