“A decision-support mechanism that helps with everything from optimizing day-to-day options to carrying out high-priority initiatives to tackling the most important strategic questions.”
This is how Dan Yoo, NerdWallet’s COO, describes Business Operations (or BizOps for short).
What is BizOps?
There are many definitions of BizOps that exist, but one that is widely accepted is: a decision-support mechanism that helps to better connect business functions together and enable the smooth operation of a company.
BizOps teams have unrestricted access to the data of every business unit, they are able to perform both quantitative and qualitative analysis, and use their findings to create decision-support mechanisms that allow them to optimise the day-to-day operations and answer important strategic questions. BizOps could be viewed as a countermeasure to any ego- and intuition-driven decision makers within the business.
Importantly, BizOps needs to be Agile. The faster a BizOps team can draw insights from data, the faster they can prioritise, develop and deploy new strategic initiatives on every aspect of the business. In this way, BizOps coordinates a company’s strategy and operations, helping business units focus on execution and hitting ambitious goals.
BizOps involves interacting with and making recommendations to many different business stakeholders, all the way from team members to c-level executives. Therefore, strong communication and influencer skills are essential. A high level of business acumen is also important, as the practice of performance management frequently involves tackling important strategic questions of cross-functional alignment.
Arguably, BizOps can be considered as much as a Philosophy as it is the creation of performance management strategies. This explains why the function is often compared to playing a similar role to Internal Consulting.
The BizOps flow?
BizOps works across all business functions, designing improvement strategies, implementing new operations and supporting the execution of the company’s goals.
Why is BizOps so interesting to business professionals?
BizOps provides a unique opportunity for business professionals to see projects all the way through, from conception to implementation. This presents the exciting prospect of tackling new challenges and being the first person to come up with innovative solutions. In modern companies, BizOps is considered a key business function which helps to drive the company forward and support partners by outlining future priority objectives. It is a highly desirable career move for it gives exposure to everything a company does. This offers invaluable experience to business professionals unsure of their next career move and an excellent platform for them to take up “Head of _____” positions afterwards.
Who hires BizOps teams?
BizOps teams are a common feature in most modern companies, playing a fundamental role in determining whether or not they are successful. Within big corporates, BizOps typically partners with a business leader and be aligned to a specific commercial function. Whereas, in startups BizOps teams operate similar to an internal consulting arm, getting involved in every aspect of the business.
What does it take to be successful in BizOps?
- Analytical Thinking — capable of harnessing quantitative and qualitative data, you’re a born analytical thinker who has experience of designing and implementing frameworks to unstructured problems.
- Problem solving — you are able to find innovative solutions to a wide range of business problems. Pro-activity is important but you also need to be a quick-learner, able to adapt and respond quickly to unexpected challenges.
- Communication — strong communication and influencer skills for engaging with the multiple stakeholders of the business, understanding their interests or concerns, and unifying them around a common goal for success.
- Cross-functionality — a good understanding of the cross-functionality of business units – this will allow you to identify and prioritise areas for operational transformation, as well as create new business solutions.
- Project Management — BizOps involves not only coming up with strategies but also executing them – here, project management skills will help you lead and negotiate with teams across the business, as well as deliver initiatives on time and within budget.
Recommended reading and resources
As BizOps is so focused on structured thinking and problem solving skills, we would recommend reading case-studies and other people’s experiences over theoretical frameworks! It’s also worth checking out the Operations Management micro-masters course free on EdX, which covers all the key areas related to BizOps.
Here’s a few additional reading resources on BizOps:
- Dan Yoo – COO at NerdWallet
- Abigail Andrews – Product Manager at Two Chairs
- Jordan Kong – Operator-in-Residence at Expa
- Elizabeth Crouch – Senior Marketing Manager at Usermind