Business Operations: Build a Winning Strategy

Winona Rajamohan
March 4, 2024
min read
March 15, 2024
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Scale your business operations strategy with the right processes, technology, and frameworks for success. Learn how to align initiatives, drive revenue, and optimize decision-making.
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Behind every successful organization is a killer business operations strategy.

“You have to go from 0 to 1, before you can go from 1 to 10,” says business operations executive Vessela Clewley, in her newsletter, The Strategy & Biz Ops Hub. “It is [business operations] that helps measure, manage, and then scale business impact: they find it, prioritize it, and scale it. In that order.” 

Think of this strategy as the train tracks helping your organization reach where it needs to go. It helps you move at a good speed without any risk of dropping precious cargo, running into other trains or falling short of your destination. 

Let’s dive into business operations and how you can elevate this function to hit your targets this year. 

TL;DR: Business operations

  • Business operations are businesses' daily activities to increase value and generate profits.
  • Business operations managers oversee daily business activity, strategy planning, leadership, performance reporting, and process management.
  • Six key functions within business operations include finance, production, go-to-market, human resources, supply chain management, and technology.
  • The four pillars of business operations are people, process, technology, and location.
  • Tips for crafting a winning business operations strategy include prioritizing employee training, building a data-driven culture, standardizing processes, establishing feedback loops, and embracing automation and digital transformation.

What is business operations? 

Business operations are day-to-day activities that:

  • Align company-wide initiatives with business strategies.
  • Meet objective key results (OKRs).
  • Generate revenue.

This function drives business decision-making by giving you the data visibility, resources and processes your team needs to grow efficiently.  

What is a business operations manager

A business operations manager is in charge of strategy planning, leadership, performance reporting and process management.

What does an operations manager do? Well, in addition to overseeing daily business activity, business operations managers:

  • Set goals and company-level key performance indicators (KPIs) to meet those goals.
  • Implements best practices and tools that boost operational processes.
  • Manages and allocates resources.
  • Coordinates action and communication between stakeholders.

What are the six business operations functions? 

Operations in business bring different functions together — like product, go-to-market teams, legal, finance and human resources — to execute business processes that contribute to company-wide growth targets. 

Here are six key functions within business operations that keep companies running efficiently: 

  1. Finance: Business operations work with finance to keep cash flow in check by implementing processes for budget planning, monitoring earnings and expenses, staying compliant with regulations and minimizing financial risk.
  2. Production: Aligning production with business operations by implementing quality assurance, inventory management and regulatory compliance processes.
  3. Go-to-market: Developing and executing strategies for driving sales, building brand awareness and ensuring customer satisfaction. This function involves marketing, sales, customer support and product management teams. Business operations keep go-to-market efforts in line with targets for organizational growth metrics.
  4. Human resources: Business operations help HR define expectations so there is enough talent to execute a business strategy, influencing recruitment efforts, employee training programs, employee performance management and more.
  5. Supply chain management: Business operations optimize supply chain processes to meet production deadlines and budgets. These responsibilities cover procurement, vendor management, logistics, risk management and more.
  6. Technology or Information Technology (IT): IT operations management ensures that technology infrastructures grow with the company by aligning IT investments and processes with business operations priorities.

The four pillars of business operations 

When building and growing a business, companies recognize the four pillars as Management, Marketing, Operations, and Finance.

The four pillars of business operations aim to help companies understand how different functions work together to reach a defined North Star. 

1. People

Skilled and motivated employees across functions are essential for helping your organization develop thoughtful strategies, make rational decisions, and execute tasks confidently. Operations teams inspire and drive a clear vision for cross-functional buy-in. Foster a people-driven culture that promotes healthy collaboration by prioritizing transparency, accountability and trust.

2. Process

Business operations is a process-driven function. Avoid repetition and miscommunication in cross-functional strategies. Defining and streamlining processes has significant merit, using tactics such as: 

  • Documenting and enforcing ‎standard operating procedures to introduce consistency.
  • Building action plans around set goals, performance metrics and KPIs so you can continuously improve existing processes.
  • Defining decision-making workflows based on data and research so teams can accurately identify opportunities, bottlenecks, and redundancies. 

3. Technology

Technology helps business operations execute on all fronts, enabling AI workflows, digital-first collaboration, and real-time optimization. 

If you're considering adopting new technology to improve business operations, here are a few tips to get you started: 

  • Identify the business processes that are weighing you and your team down.
  • Evaluate tools with strong automation capabilities to cut down on busy work — like manually creating process documentation, answering routine customer support questions, tracking expenses, and more. 
  • Invest in workflows that enable seamless communication, whether that’s through project documentation templates, centralized resource hubs or real-time messaging channels. 
  • Track and measure success metrics regularly, taking into account wins like team productivity, time savings, cost savings, customer satisfaction and revenue opportunities. 

4. Location

Location is a significant decision-making factor for any operation involving supply chains, transportation and inventory. Business operations help compare and assess locations before making decisions about warehouses, inventory management, distribution centers and logistics. Inaccuracies here can result in significant losses for production deadlines and the overall customer experience. Location also plays a role in helping companies define regulatory compliance needs, especially when dealing with people and products in different regions. 

📌 Related resource: People, Process, Technology: A Framework for Leaders

Tips for crafting a winning business operations strategy 

You can’t optimize business growth until you’ve determined what to improve, what resources you need and goals to measure success. Here are five areas to prioritize if you’re looking to scale your business operations strategy: 

1. Prioritize employee training and learning

Invest in employee training and development programs that empower individuals and better prepare them for new goals and responsibilities.

Companies can create a comprehensive knowledge base, invest in clear and concise business process documentation, provide upskilling opportunities and mentorship programs, launch workshops, and more. These tactics serve as a strong foundation to improve business operations, giving your team the benefit of: 

  • High-quality processes that employees execute quickly and with little to no errors. 
  • Empowered employees who are motivated to tackle new initiatives because they have the knowledge and proficiency to do so. 
  • Managers who can trust teams to get work done correctly without micromanaging or holding ad-hoc meetings for simple questions.
  • An agile workforce that feels confident when adapting to new technologies, business priorities and customer demands. 

Although it’s great to be a competent leader driving continuous process improvement, you don’t want to be too competent that you end up sacrificing too much time helping everyone get things done!‎

2. Build a data-driven culture

Stakeholders need tools and processes to help them use data to identify challenges and improve business operations. You can build a data-driven culture with these common practices for establishing standards in using and understanding data:

  • Giving employees the resources to increase their data literacy.
  • Equipping the organization with systems to maintain data quality and accessibility.
  • Adopting a technology stack with robust data integrations cross-functionally, including CRM, ERP, communication and revenue management tools. 
  • Building clear reports and dashboards as a source of truth to aid decision-making.

3. Standardize and document processes

Even with high-quality processes, operational improvement won't happen if employees and leaders execute them incorrectly. Define workflows, SOPs, and best practices for all stakeholders to contribute to achieving company KPIs. Teams can use tools like Notion, Asana, Scribe, LucidChart, and Confluence to document and templatize repeatable processes to reduce errors, variability and time spent searching for answers.

Here’s an example of a template you can use to document your operational plan and share it across the organization 👇

Free Operational plan template from Scribe
Free operational plan template

📌 Related resource: Operations Manual: What it is & How to Write it (+ Free Template)‎

4. Establish regular feedback loops

Regularly capturing feedback is crucial to align teams with the same goals, keep them informed about progress, and addressing issues before they affect the bottom line. Here are a few ways to foster a culture of consistent communication and learning: 

  • Regular progress reviews, whether that’s through weekly stand-up meetings or progress updates via a company communication channel.
  • Customer surveys to assess how new processes are impacting end-users.
  • Employee surveys to understand team engagement and motivation. 
  • Performance dashboards for stakeholders to evaluate real-time data and metrics.

5. Embrace automation and digital transformation

Strategic process automation can be a critical differentiator between a successful and resource-intensive strategy. Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), natural language processing (NLP) and robotic process automation (RPA) can help organizations accelerate processes with enhanced information parsing, pattern recognition, trend analysis, and predictive modeling.

Alyssa Sanchez, Senior Customer Success Manager (CSM) at Gong, uses Scribe to scale playbook and documentation creation across her 170 customers. With Scribe’s powerful process documentation automation, Alyssa no longer has to spend unnecessary hours manually creating documentation to support customers and train new CSM hires. 

See Alyssa's success story here:

‎6 business operations success stories across industries

Business operations tactics can take many shapes and forms, influenced by factors like your industry, the size of your organization, market maturity and more. We’ve highlighted a few real-world business operations examples focused on different industries. Read on to see how companies successfully build strategies around the four pillars.

1. Manufacturing

Swire Beverages is a bottler for Coca-Cola, with Swire Coca-Cola catering to a franchise population of 880 million people. With Coca-Cola’s growth in China, one of Swire’s manufacturing plants was resource-strapped and forced to pay other plants to make products for them.

Business operations pillar: People. Swire introduced a World Class Operations program to the plant, emphasizing leadership commitment and Leader Standard Work principles among team leaders to motivate employees and foster a sense of accountability.

2. Healthcare

The Cheshire and Merseyside Integrated Care System (ICS) is an Integrated Care Board in England under the National Health Service. Repetitive administrative processes, data challenges and frequent system errors pulled clinical and non-clinical staff away from patient care. 

Business operations pillar: Technology. The Chesire and Merseyside ICS used an intelligent automation program to optimize processes in several functions, including Cancer Care, Referral Management, and Diagnostics. They successfully improved patient care quality, employee productivity, and data quality.  

3. Retail 

Lowes is a renowned home improvement retailer that completes nearly 19 million customer transactions a week across North America. But fragmented legacy mobile computing, printing and scanning devices slowed down retail associates' operational efficiency in managing multi-channel communication with customers. 

Business operations pillar: Technology. Lowe’s optimized their mobile experience first, with an enterprise-grade operating system that enabled workers to carry a single mobile device throughout their shift to communicate amongst each other and get real-time visibility into product supply. 

4. Technology 

BILLIONS is a software that helps real estate teams manage the end-to-end client journey to boost productivity and revenue. As a growing startup, they spent hours creating training documentation for new hires and external customers. 

Business operations pillar: Process. The company’s C-level executives championed Scribe to simplify their training and education process, automatically turning new feature demos and process walkthroughs into visual guides and FAQs. In one live training session with a customer, Chief Operating Officer Amber Miller used Scribe to create documents in a matter of seconds — building a repository of over 15 guides from that session alone. 

“Everything we do is to prep us for future growth. Scribe enables us to make sure everything we do is documented — without taking extra time — and put us in a good spot to grow the business.” — Amber Miller, COO at BILLIONs

5. Financial services 

When digitizing the bank experience, U.S. Bank had an extensive task ahead to streamline customer interactions across online banking devices, ATMs and 3,000 branches in the United States. Data siloes between these different systems forced customers to build relationships with individual bank functions instead of the brand as a whole.

Business operations pillar: Technology. U.S. Bank used Salesforce to streamline customer information across functions into a single database. This gave bank employees a holistic view of all customer interactions across divisions, allowing them to personalize customer service and recommend the right products. 

6. Food delivery

Just Eat is one of Europe’s biggest meal delivery groups. Initially based in Denmark, the delivery app realized that they were not capturing enough market share to expand its business and become an international company.

Business operations pillar: Location. Just Eat moved to London after realizing that 50 percent of Europe’s food delivery industry is based in the United Kingdom and that investor presence was stronger there. This new location became Just Eats biggest market and opened up doors to branches in 13 additional countries.

What are the benefits of business operations?

One survey shows that less than one-third of organizations achieve the intended impact of IT transformation projects. 

This proves that even with the best innovation, the highest returns are unlocked when organizations are empowered to use their available resources.

Business operations provide leaders and employees with the right tools and processes, enabling teams to: 

  • Optimize organizational spend: Gain insight into process inefficiencies, waste and redundancies to improve resource allocation and negotiate favorable terms with partners, vendors and suppliers. 
  • Stay ahead of industry shifts: Equip the organization with systems and workflows built to scale so teams can remain agile when adopting new technologies, pivoting focus, and benchmarking progress against competitors. 
  • Boost team productivity: Eliminate bottlenecks and manual workflows by providing employees with tools, documentation and workflows that free up time for tasks directly impacting KPIs. 
  • Increase customer satisfaction: Improve the quality of goods and services by optimizing operations that impact customers directly, like quality control processes, customer response times, and data-driven strategies for personalizing the customer experience or influencing product roadmaps. 
  • Drive more revenue and profits: All of the points mentioned above help teams play to their strengths and prioritize initiatives leading to sustainable value in the market. This also allows companies to scale efficiently toward more profitability, savings, and growth. 

What technology trends are shaping the future of business operations?

Technology will continue to evolve, forcing businesses to upgrade their tools and processes along the way. Business operations leaders and stakeholders must stay informed on how to integrate new technologies to enhance existing operations and gain a competitive edge. Let's explore a few examples of technology trends that companies in different industries are currently prioritizing: 

  • Generative AI: Tools like Scribe, ChatGPT, GitHub Copilot and Gemini use generative AI to automate complex tasks like generating new content, ideas and designs. Scribe is the first AI-powered platform that lets companies use generative AI with automatic content creation for company-specific processes.
  • Personalized customer experiences: AI and data analytics have enabled personalized customer experiences that are crucial for building brand loyalty. This approach is now a must-have for companies looking to attract and retain customers.
  • Process simulation: Simulation technology enables businesses to test different scenarios virtually, allowing teams to quickly analyze and model new operations before implementation. Operations teams use this technology today to reduce risk and optimize resource allocation in industries like manufacturing, logistics and healthcare. 

🎓 ‎See how operations teams use Scribe to improve efficiency, collaboration and process optimization.

Drive a successful business operations strategy with Scribe

Business operations is a function that runs a tight ship. 

With so many departments working together to reach a set goal, business operations leaders need to delegate and entrust a lot of moving parts to their teams. 

However, spending hours each day answering basic how-to questions and correcting errors from incorrect processes is a significant barrier to growth. 

Scribe simplifies cross-functional collaboration by giving operations leaders and stakeholders a way to capture processes and automatically generate step-by-step guides effortlessly. Use AI-powered recommendations to spruce up your guide with engaging titles, descriptions and even copy (talk about making an already process even easier!).

Try Scribe today to reclaim time for those big to-do list items you've been eager to start! 😉

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