José Otero
Chief Operating Officer
SkyAlert Mexico and USA

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Startup Contributor

Three Ways Operations Management Can Drive Growth

By José Otero | Mon, 08/29/2022 - 11:00

During the past two years, our understanding of work has changed radically just as much as the way we do business. With this in mind, leadership teams have to configure their planning, but also how they execute and operate.

How big is this scope? To begin with, from the people teams side, businesses have to understand hybrid models are, almost as a general rule, the first option for both talent looking for a work-life balance and companies optimizing expenses.

On the technical front, more than ever, digitalization and automation are at the center of everything. This technology approach is now being prioritized and accelerated. This translates into a scenario in which the business ecosystem follows a new structure with a strong focus on data and sustainability but also on social value.

In other words, these trends imply that companies will need to swiftly adapt to any disruptions in order to drive growth.

There are many strategic fronts to do so and they all must work together. Key leaders inside companies need to improve their collaboration, have a deeper understanding of each workflow, the interdependent impact they have between each other and, mostly, have a clear grasp of their capacities as well as needs but also of how any new ideas and business planning comes to life from an operational standpoint.

In that sense, from the operations point of view, the area that specifically focuses on the technical aspects of any project — from the spark of an idea, to coordination and execution —chief operations officers (COOs) have the challenge of bridging computer and information science with business planning, as well as talent with key performance indicators.

Considering this, and from the perspective of a tech DNA company like SkyAlert, we identify three key elements all COOs must have as a compass for their activities and planning.

Optimization and Talent Retention

Uncertainty spreads quickly, not only on a corporate and management level but also within teams. This can easily lead to many changes inside the company structure, meaning there might be a wave of new faces but also of employees looking for opportunities elsewhere.

In fact, according to a recent survey by PwC among global COOs, talent shortages and employee turnover are the main challenges they encounter. Added to these, operations teams also can see their day-to-day tested by new digital initiatives roll-out and the possibility of new COVID-19 variants that could restrict work.

So, while understaffing is a big concern, these critical teams that are responsible for carrying out core projects might even question their own ability to have enough bandwidth to work on all necessary tasks.

Having said that, talent retention and optimization of work within teams will be key to increasing productivity, while also boosting employee morale affected by increased workflow and uncertainty as well as helping to build a more resilient culture where people can thrive.

Flexibility for Better Collaboration

The operations area carries a heavy load, usually time- and resources-sensitive. In this new work dynamic, remote and office-based teams need to blend better to create more open and collaborative environments.

In that sense, leadership has to underpin productive collaboration through good communication and stakeholder management.

Transparency and cross-functional collaboration have become more relevant, especially since COVID-19 upheavals deployed a series of changes in policy and strategy, which can impact flexibility, freeze operations and, consequently, affect performance.

For teams to feel more comfortable in new operational models, first, companies must communicate directly and clearly where they stand.

Digitization to Improve Responsiveness

The big promise of technology is to create a more efficient performance and seamless work experience. Therefore, tech-driven areas like operations are no strangers to the need of digitization to scale businesses.

Regardless of the great obvious benefits, companies can also be reluctant to invest in digital initiatives, especially amid severe economic disruptions and a dire outlook As enterprise risk management (ERM) becomes a main strategy embedded in businesses due to the unprecedented crisis we are still navigating, digital investments might suffer some setbacks.

Managing risks is a beneficial approach against uncertainty but, with a wrong mindset, it can create roadblocks to business scaling and operations. Therefore, experts are emphasizing that ERM must be agile in order to be effective.

It is vital to keep in mind that digitization processes do not necessarily mean big, bold, radical changes. Operations teams can help find a better way to optimize how a company works through small improvements that create a lot of impact within organizations, making them more resilient and agile.

This agility, enabled primarily by technology and innovation, can be leveraged to drive growth during a crisis, allowing operations teams to scale, cover demand and create more responsive business models, even in complex scenarios.

In the words of Sun-Tzu, in the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.

Photo by:   José Otero