Maintaining a business in any capacity, whether it’s a startup, scale-up, or public company, requires committed individuals innovating on a regular basis. In order to achieve the best possible productivity and consistency within a company, a Business Operations professional is an expert in running and improving systems, processes, and day-to-day operations. BizOps professionals work with all departments within an organization to efficiently and effectively accomplish their respective goals.
What, then, makes a great Business Operations Professional? Which companies hire BizOps roles? What do these roles do day-to-day? Which skills are necessary for the position and how could one best prepare for it?
What is a Business Operations Professional?
A Business Operations professional (commonly called a BizOps professional) is an individual who is responsible for the management and execution of the daily activities required to keep a business running smoothly.
Within the BizOps Network, operations leaders from the fastest-growing companies around the world share stories, lessons, thoughts, and ideas about Business Operations regularly. We’ve seen BizOps described as an “internal SWAT team,” “internal consultants,” leaders who combine “analytical, operational and strategic expertise,” and more.
BizOps professionals are cross-functional, so you’ll find them working alongside product, marketing, engineering, sales, and customer success teams to develop systems and processes that streamline operations. They work hard to identify and resolve any bottlenecks that may arise.
What Companies Hire Business Operations Roles?
Most companies, especially larger ones, hire for Business Operations roles. But they may go under different names. The first explicit BizOps roles came about in companies like Yahoo, LinkedIn, and Google. Since then, other companies have followed suit, making BizOps commonplace among companies large and small.
Deanna Sinclair, Head of Operations at Polly, states that “companies of all sizes and at all stages use BizOps roles differently. The early stage 0-100 person companies are probably the most in need of experienced BizOps pros.”
BizOps is a vital and growing field as organizations strive to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. For that reason, you’ll find all sorts of companies hiring BizOps professionals.
Skills that Business Operations Professionals Need
Often, BizOps roles are technical, but Amanda Swim, Director of Business Operations at Zendesk, notes that “what is most surprising to people is how much [BizOps] is about people skills, stakeholder management, helping people overcome obstacles or different points of view.”
Additionally, CipherHealth’s VP of Business Operations, Alyssa Higgins, says companies hiring BizOps professionals want those who can analyze “people, processes, and technologies that support and drive a business forward. This may include business analytics and reporting, strategic project management, forecasting, and managing the technology and processes that support how the business runs.”
Sujay Seetharaman is the Chief of Staff at PipeCandy, a market intelligence platform. He shares that Business Operations professionals “streamline processes and workflows, think through potential automation to cut down manual efforts, and set the operational rhythm for the team.”
Through our conversations with the above BizOps leaders and others in the BizOps Network, we’ve identified 5 key skills all Business Operations Professionals need to be successful.
- Analytical skills: As a Business Operations Professional, you need to be able to analyze data and spot trends. For example, you’ll be well versed in SQL, using it to clean up data, store it appropriately and pull out actionable insights. In doing so, you’ll find information that informs critical business decisions that improve operational excellence.
- Communication skills: Don’t underestimate the importance of soft skills. Clear, authoritative and concise communication is a must. You need to explain your ideas to others and listen to feedback, discerning what’s most important. For example, adjusting the messaging of a presentation you’ve made to secure budget for a new project to fit different stakeholders clearly shows you know what’s more important to each group.
- Problem-solving skills: Identifying problems and finding solutions quickly is important to keep operations running smoothly. Seetharaman affirms the importance of the BizOps role because “they put out fires every day to ensure alignment in workflow and outcomes.” For example, consider an organization struggling to retain more junior employees. Through analysis, you ascertain several core reasons for higher turnover rates that span onboarding, training, and mentorship for new hires. You’ll need to clearly outline these problems to stakeholders and recommend multiple avenues to solve them.
- Project management skills: You don’t just assign deadlines and juggle emails between team members. BizOps professionals need to be exceptional at pushing projects forward, not letting things slip even when there are competing priorities, constraints, and obstacles—whether internal or external.
- Organizational skills: Anybody can say they have organizational skills, but as a BizOps professional, you understand why your role hinges on your ability to create systems. You create systems for organizing teams and ways of working that are scalable and provide clarity across teams and functions. And the true test of your organizational skills is whether these systems can withstand real day-to-day pressures like fast-paced work environments, a combination of resource constraints, and sudden fires that need to be addressed.
The Roles And Responsibilities Of Business Operations Professionals
The day-to-day of Business Operations Professionals will look different depending on the company, its industry, and organization size. That being said, from talking to BizOps leaders across industries, from startups to blue chip companies, there are several core responsibilities to all BizOps professionals.
Research and Find Solutions To Critical Business Problems
Operations research is a scientific discipline that employs mathematical modeling, statistical analysis, and optimization techniques to arrive at optimal or near-optimal solutions to complex decision-making problems. In business, operations research is often used to solve problems such as product mix, capacity planning, and routing.
Ensure Stakeholder Support For Proposed Solutions
As a Business Operations professional, you’ll often formulate innovative solutions to improve efficiency and productivity within an organization.
To get buy-in from key stakeholders for your proposed solutions, you’ll follow this process:
- Researching the problem to pinpoint solutions: Make sure you have a solid understanding of the problem you are trying to solve by pulling all relevant data on the problem at hand to analyze it for trends. As you find patterns and trends, you’ll then formulate solutions to address those common causes.
- Making the case for your solution to leadership: To execute on the solutions you formulated in the previous step, you need buy-in. To do this, you’ll use concrete data to present the potential impact of your solution to leaders. BizOps professionals are astute communicators, able to address potential concerns from stakeholders and show how your solution is the best option.
- Getting commitment from key stakeholders: Once you have buy-in, you’ll use your data analysis to inform a project plan. You’ll need to involve stakeholders in the implementation process because their ongoing support will ensure the myriad of teams and managers involved won’t hold up the progress you make on these projects.
BizOps professionals never work in isolation. To thrive, you need sharp analytical skills to determine the best path forward, but also interpersonal skills that keep people problems at bay.
See your Solutions Through to Completion
As a BizOps professional, you don’t just come up with ideas and hand them off to be executed. No, you’ll come up with the idea, work out a plan to achieve it, and then get to work on it.
Likely, you’ll work within a team to ensure your solutions are executed effectively. This involves working with different teams to plan and coordinate the work, track progress, and resolve any issues that come up along the way.
As such, you need strong project management skills to be successful in this role, as well as a good understanding of the various business functions and how they fit together.
Monitor Impact and Communicate Results Up and Down the Chain
As a Business Operations professional, you are constantly monitoring the impact of our work and communicating results to those who need to know. You need to be able to see the big picture and understand how your work fits into the overall goals of the company.
To achieve these objectives, consistently monitor the impact of your work, both positive and negative. When you find problems, work with the relevant parties to find solutions. Also, keep track of best practices and share them with others.
Ready to Grow your Career as a BizOps Professional?
If you want to be a Business Operations professional, you need to have a passion for process improvement and efficiency. You should also be able to work well under pressure and be able to handle multiple tasks simultaneously.
The roles and responsibilities of a Business Operations professional vary depending on the size of the company. In a small company, the Business Operations professional might be responsible for all aspects of the company’s operations. In a large company, the Business Operations professional might be responsible for specific areas such as supply chain management or human resources.
No matter what size company you work for, as a Business Operations professional, you will be responsible for improving the efficiency of the company’s operations. You will work with all departments within the company to streamline processes and improve communication.
You will also be responsible for developing and implementing policies and procedures that will improve the overall operation of the company. In addition, you will be expected to train employees on the new policies and procedures.
If you are interested in a career as a Business Operations professional, the BizOps Network is the ideal place to start. Plenty of information is available for the experienced and inexperienced, with insight sourced from those within the field. Apply here.