9 Strategic Tips to Propel Your Operations Career

Sooner or later, all Ops folks realize that they can offer more than just putting out data fires. This week, I condensed the wisdom from a dozen interviews and pulled together the best career guidance for becoming a strategic ops pro.
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Nick Bonfiglio
July 14, 2021 . 5 min read
9-career-tips-for-operations-pros

Do you remember the movie Groundhog Day? It follows Phil, a self-centered weatherman (played by Bill Murray) who goes to report on the news in a small town only to wake up each morning reliving the previous day over and over. 

Unfortunately, Ops folks can often relate to Phil’s fictional dilemma—responding to the same field-change requests day after day can send the most seasoned Ops pro running for the hills. But that’s why we interviewed dozens of Data Superheroes who have kindly offered their wisdom to help you act more strategically.

Whether you have your eye on joining the C-suite or dealing with a little less data confusion, these 10 tips will offer you invaluable strategic insight.

Top 9 Operations career advice to move from tactical to strategic

1. Trust the process (also, have a process)

Well-defined processes lead to thoughtful solutions. Otherwise, it’s all a matter of opinion. 

“To solve the problem, trust the process. Without a well-defined, systematized process, you cannot even get data. Case in point, our early onboarding process. We had no insight into whether a customer was going to churn or not because there was no theory or process to measure it. We could have been at risk of losing our entire customer base and not have known it.”

Asia Corbett, Director of Revenue Operations at Postal.io. 

Asia Corbett RevOps at Postal.io - "to solve the problem, trust the process"

2. Find solutions and build your playbook 

What happens when you have unlimited data problems, but a limited budget? You learn how to do more with less. 

“I learned to become crafty by always assuming there’s no money to spend. I’ve worked at small and large companies where the goal is always to reduce spending. I’d scour the Salesforce AppExchange for free apps to test for specific problems we had. Or I’d reach out to someone in my network to see how they resolved similar issues.

 

Through that process, I’ve built my own RevOps playbook from different roles. I’m confident I can apply to any company, small or large. I’ve just started sharing some of this knowledge in an attempt to boost my network and help others. I was taught that if you make a mistake, just don’t make the same mistake twice. And why not share ideas and solutions to prevent others from making those mistakes too?”

Jason Westerberg, Head of RevOps at Mixmax

3. Become the voice of reason 

“Take the initiative to sit down with business leaders across the organization. Understand where departmental leaders have problems, what their goals are, and where inefficient processes are causing headaches. 

 

Then, advise them on how they can scale their processes to run more programs or activities that are going to drive pipeline or close deals. Every function is strapped for resources. Marketing operations can be the voice that advises the whole business on how to operate more efficiently.”

Cristina Saunders, Co-Founder, CS2 Marketing

4. The key to excellent data quality is…

“Rules, discipline, and constant focus. It’s that simple, and that hard. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard people say, ‘Look, we’re going to have to spend the next two or three weeks cleaning up our data because it’s gotten out of hand.’ You have to sit down and do the hard work. It’s not sexy. It’s mind-numbing stuff, but getting it right is one of the most important things you can do to generate revenue for your organization.”

Toby Carrington, VP of Revenue Operations at Seismic

5. Always have a vision

“Before embarking on any new data quality project, write out your vision statement with a one-sentence declaration for the value you expect to create. Have clear and measurable milestones. Without an explicit data quality vision, you will find disappointing results because success was not clear.”

Aubrey Morgan, Director of Demand Generation & RevOps, Syncari

6. To elevate, you must automate 

“Automate your grunt work as much as you can to free up your time for meatier, more strategic problems. A build-up of grunt work usually stems from a lack of control over your systems, which leads to those unforeseen issues popping up every day. 

 

That’s why I’m so excited by Syncari and the emerging category of data automation because it lets you act as an air traffic controller. It gives you a bird’s-eye view of your data, and that control center that allows you to make sure there aren’t any crashes, and you can anticipate any potential conflicts from a mile away. Many revenue operations professionals don’t have access to that today, and it’s holding them back.”

Cristina Saunders, Co-Founder, CS2 Marketing

7. Ask the right questions

“From a RevOps standpoint, I’m asking, ‘What am I putting a band-aid on that’s going to leave a scar?’ In RevOps I find you have to continuously step back and re-confirm what you’re trying to accomplish, otherwise you end up with short-term fixes that leave lasting damage. If you let something sit too long, it may become impossible to rip out.

 

I’m also asking, ‘Are we doing right by the customer?’ When you have sales, marketing, and support all interacting with the customer independently, you really have no concept of the holistic customer journey. So much of what customers feel hinges on the right people having the right information, and it’s the difference between a good interaction and a bad one. I see it as RevOps’ job to surface that information in a way that drives higher-impact customer interactions.”

Mollie Bodensteiner, Director of Revenue Operations at Granular

Mollie-Bodensteiner-Revenue-Operations-BandAid-Solution

8. Help others embrace change

“Getting people to change their mind on anything is incredibly difficult, even if you tell them it’ll save them two hours every day. The key to getting started is finding your champions. You’re not going to change 100 minds. Approach the most open-minded people you work with and clearly demonstrate what’s in it for them. 

 

Then you’ll have compelling results to show the rest of the department. Put together a presentation that tells the story of what you’ve accomplished: ‘The data was at this level, and now six months later it’s improved in these ways.’

 

And remember to show others your genuine passion for solving problems. Nothing is more contagious than enthusiasm. Change a few minds, and wow—the world is just so different.”

Thomas “The Data Doc” Redman, Consultant and Data Provocateur

9. Move from tactical to strategic 

“I’d advise individuals who want to move up in their career to work towards being strategic business advisors to their executive team today. For example, if you’re building a process in Salesforce, take a step back and think about how it relates to the business and see if you can fine-tune it to be more strategic and support topline business goals more effectively.

 

Tactical tasks are always going to be part of your role, but always thinking about taking that extra step will set you apart. Instead of pulling a report of data, take the data, analyze it. And then when you’re delivering it to your stakeholders, deliver it with a compelling story that compels executives to act. Continually tapping into this strategic mindset will prime you to become an excellent leader one day.”

Rosalyn Santa Elena, Vice President of Global Revenue Operations at Neo4j

Propel your growth

There’s always more to learn. Moving from tactical to strategic, from doer to advisor, is the Ops dream. May these tips light the way!

Written by Nick Bonfiglio
Nick is a CEO, founder, and author with over 25 years of experience in tech who writes about data ecosystems, SaaS, and product development. He spent nearly seven years as EVP of Product at Marketo and is now CEO and Founder of Syncari.

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