Business Operations Journey and Forward
A typical a conversation that happens frequently:
Some curious person: What do you do?
Honey: Business Operations
Some curious person: Cool.. that sounds interesting..what is that? (Scratching head and some sort of this response):
Honey: [provides some long winded answer and it varies]
Honestly, Business Operations is not a very lucid field. It’s been around and a lot of people do it, but it’s not relatively mature in terms of a function.
In my experience, Business Operations is conglomerate of many aspects of a business. There is no formal industry framework for Business Operations like there is for Sales Operations, Marketing, Engineering, Product, etc.
When it comes to Business Operations, I have been in one of these scenarios:
- Spearheaded building a Business Operations group at an organization
- Was doing Business Operations without it being called Business Operations, rather was labeled Corporate Development, Chief of Staff, or Strategy & Planning
- Unit/Product based Business Operations or Functional Operations Management: Sales Ops, Marketing Ops, etc.
I love analogies, so I would say I have used these analogies to explain Business Operations at simplest level:
- Oil in the machine for the entire business
- Connecting dots between functions and teams
- Glue between teams and functions
Some background on how I found my passion and built on Business Operations: I started in marketing, and I got to work on a lot of projects that gave me exposure to all aspects of the business at multiple jobs: Project Management, Engineering, Product Development, Sales, Customer Delivery, etc.
Andy, CEO of Evolve, is a good friend and mentor was my boss at my second job in Silicon Valley and after I had built our marketing and helped ‘strategize and execute’ on array of projects in HR, Finance, M&A, and Sales, he promoted me to Director of Corporate Development, but he essentially called me his Chief of Staff. This term was new to me in a business setting, and is a synonym for Business Operations. I essentially did the following in additional to managing functions like Marketing and Sales Operations:
- Monthly Reporting by function and consolidating the goals, metrics, deliverables, etc. for executive level reporting
- M&A activity that touched all functions
- GTM planning, development, and launch of products
After that, I did a stint at Safeway supporting the IT team with all strategic communications and change management. This was different, but very valuable to incorporate into Business Operations.
Then, I went to Internet Brands where I did ‘Unit’ based Business Operations. I was responsible for the end-to-end management of web hosting product, which included the whole gamut:
- Building and launching the product
- All Marketing and sales for web hosting
- Delivery and Customer Success
We took the product and handed it over a team in NJ, so I moved to Covisint, where I managed UX, Training, Sales Ops, and Business Operations. My boss, who was the SVP of Products/CMO, referred to me as his Chief of Staff. The Business Operations at Covisint was more focused on:
- Cross-functional strategy and planning on annual and quarterly basis in term of strategy, goals, budget, headcount, etc. and then reporting on it at a cadence
- Budget management, financial reporting, ROI analysis, and vendor/legal liaison for the product and marketing function
- Program and project management of key processes that touched multiple functions: lead to booking process, product strategy/roadmap to engineering delivery process, etc.
I recently moved to Uber in Business Operations (at week 1), and it’s a new role, but the role is focused on:
- Cross-functional alignment and execution
- Strategy and planning for annual, quarterly, and monthly
- Reporting on metrics and KPIs in a holistic data driven manner to drive business decisions
- (Will learn a lot more over my tenure here and this list will evolve)
The reason Business Operations is a passion for me is because:
- Managing and supporting all functions within a business is exciting. You touch every function, and you are building synergies, processes, communications across the board, while doing very meaningful work.
- A lot of companies have departments that work in silos, and the beauty of Business Operations is that you get to break those silos down, and build a more transparent and effective organization. You are working with people at every level in the organization, although it's mostly leadership, and you pull the little details together to look at the big picture.
- It’s something new everyday. Your whole job is to help with predictability, but your learning new industries, functions, people, processes, etc. everyday! There is no boredom or a lot repeatability in Business Operations. It keeps you on your toes and is exciting — well at least for me!
Here is just a raw list of type of things I have done in Business Operations capacity:
- Chief of staff for executives
- Strategic insight into specific function: sales, marketing, product, engineering
- Strategic planning for building new product and services and managing the launch for that
- Business and financial alignment; cross-functional alignment
- Finance processing and vendor management (working with finance and legal)
- Managing budget for a functions and building ROI models for investments
- Influencing and guiding business decisions
- Spearheading M&A, investments, partnerships related initiatives
- Supporting team and HR related activities: recruiting, on boarding, training, etc.
- Building dashboards, defining and reporting on metrics and KPIs
- Communications and change management, specially with business transformation efforts
- Program and project management / special projects / anything doesn't fit squared in one function
- Building new or redesigning processes to be more strategic, proactive, and effective (any business process in any function)
- Helping build end-to-end transparency and visibility to teams and leaders
- Working on cross-functional alignment and communications
- Writing and helping develop goal, objectives, strategic plans, results, KPIs, etc.
- Building frameworks and operating models at multiple levels
I am really passionate about Business Operations. It helps organizations be more effective and successful. I want to learn more, share and build on this passion, so I am working on some exciting research, content development, and exploring building a Business Operations community.