A Guide to Building a Healthy Ops Function

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Common Misconceptions

There are some common misconceptions about growth that can prevent companies from making choices that will lead to healthy operations later.

One of these misconceptions has to do with hiring lots of specialists and sales reps upfront. The idea is that this will impact revenue more than investing in building processes that will scale.

While that approach may have a more noticeable impact in the short term, healthy operations are critical to long-term success. This is because success relies on generating, measuring, and protecting your revenue.

Your customers don’t care how small you are or how many rounds of funding you’ve raised. They care about the quality of your product and the customer experience you deliver.

So, What Should You Do?

In order to build a foundation for healthy operations, you’ll need to:

1. Take full ownership of your data

2. Optimize your tech stack to work for your inflection point

3. Break down internal silos that cause leaks in your customer experience 

Have a clear idea of where you want to end up and make intentional decisions and investments to help get you there.

Here are some ways you can improve your customer experience early on, while also setting your company up for healthy operations down the road: 

Be Intentional

This can help dramatically when it comes to building effective processes, problem-solving, and scaling your operations. 

Becoming an intentional organization requires you to embrace a more holistic view of your business.

Instead of reacting hastily to fires that spring up, you’ll be able to identify issues before they get that far. 

When operational issues do happen, worry less about who to blame. Look for ways to collaborate on solutions to avoid them in the future. 

This will build and strengthen your company’s agility muscle. It will also help train your team to work cross-functionally. When you decrease the role of ego in the problem-solving process, people will be less defensive and more creative. 

Analyze the values of your leadership team and align them with your intentions for the company. Be opportunistic about the things that not only line up with your values but push them forward, too. 

Embrace Change & Discomfort

For SaaS companies, growth happens fast and is transformative. Every time your company doubles in size, it becomes a new organization with new problems. These, along with structural shifts that change the way information flows between your teams.  

Growth goes hand-in-hand with pains that can change the way your company operates.

For example, when your team is small, it’s often understood that everyone will act as a generalist. They will step in when needed to drive work to the finish line, even if it’s not their area of expertise. 

Our advice?

Lean into the discomfort and encourage your team to do the same.

Create a culture that promotes the development of new skill sets. Invest in giving people the time and tools they need to become generalists.

Build a team that can learn from one another and approach problems from more than one vantage point. This way, as you grow, you won’t need to hire tons of specialists to fill in skill gaps because there won’t be as many.  

At Go Nimbly, we hire people from various ops backgrounds and help them become generalists.

We do this by making sure they’re given the opportunity to be hands-on in areas outside their specialties. Our culture of self-betterment means that professional development is built into every week. People can use this time to expand their skill sets by working towards a goal in an area in which they feel they need development. 

Something else we do every week is a company-wide retrospective. Though we’ve had to restructure the meeting as we’ve grown, it started out as an all-hands exercise where each person reflects out loud on that week’s personal wins, learns, and changes. The idea is to avoid shoutouts to teammates and focus solely on your own development. Not only is it something people wouldn’t generally take the time to do on their own, but it creates greater empathy within our organization. 

Stop Silo Syndrome Early

Having silos within your organization doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. 

Silos are natural and tend to form on their own as a company gets larger and people settle into more specific roles. 

Organizational hierarchies, for example, play a large role in the formation of silos. When a person is hired, their instinct will be to look to their manager or boss for validation of their work. When each discipline is playing by its own rules in service of its own goals, things start to fall through the cracks and less work gets done.  

By establishing a common goal to track towards (revenue), you give your go-to-market teams a shared incentive to communicate more often. This helps break down information silos. In order to ensure healthy, scalable operations, everyone should speak a common language and rally around the north star.

Signs of Silo Syndrome

There are ways to tell that silo syndrome has begun to creep into your business.

For example, a “not my job” mentality, where people are unwilling to step outside their specific job functions.

This indicates that silos exist and that people are more interested in checking off boxes within their discipline than helping to drive the company towards its revenue goals. 

Have sales, marketing, and customer success meet weekly to ensure that everyone on the revenue team has visibility into what each function’s action items are and how they can support each other.

Establishing accountability when it comes to driving revenue is ultimately how you’re going to combat silo syndrome. 

Always Be Roadmapping

Just as product teams depend on a roadmap to guide their strategy, so should operations.

Work should be prioritized based on its predicted impact on your most important KPIs. 

An operational roadmap does not need to be complicated. Its job is to serve as a statement of intent. At Go Nimbly, we use Roadmunk to create roadmaps where work is separated into categories and assigned a priority level or status, (i.e. ASAP, Next, Soon, or Proposed, Scheduled, In Progress).  

The prioritization of items on the roadmap should be based on the north star metric that drives your go-to-market strategy: revenue.

You should analyze each item to determine how it will move the revenue needle. To do this, we use a framework called 3VC, which stands for Value, Volume, Velocity, and Conversion.

If an initiative will impact any of these areas—for example, increasing customer LTV (value), attracting more leads (volume), accelerating your sales cycle (velocity), or driving more conversions—it should be prioritized on your roadmap.

Who is responsible for creating this roadmap depends on the size and structure of your company. For later-stage organizations, the RevOps team will own it. For small, early-stage companies, it will be leadership (or whoever owns operations). 

Managing Your Roadmap

Sometimes, companies skip the roadmapping step. They think it’s meant to be set in stone and might be a waste of time as inevitable pivots occur. However, a roadmap is a living artifact. It’s something that is built to grow with you and will help you stay the course towards your goals. 

A strategic roadmap can actually improve your agility. It also allows you to make informed decisions as you reach each new inflection point.  

How often you update your roadmap depends on the nature of the work. We update our roadmap quarterly. Leadership also has weekly action meetings to discuss current and upcoming initiatives and strategies.

You can also create roadmaps with specific themes. For example, if you have a problem with churn, you would do an analysis to determine possible causes. Next, identify operational workstreams that will help decrease your churn rate. Prioritize them based on their predicted level of impact. 

 The Bottom Line

There’s no way to predict where your company will be in a year, or five, or ten. However, being mindful of how early decisions will impact your operations down the road will make it much easier to adapt to growth. With Revenue Operations, you can unify your teams as they form, which will lead to better alignment and a customer experience with much less friction.