Building systems and operations that scale at startups

by James Ker-Reid - November 22, 2021

A startup may be born from an idea, but it’s the people who build and grow it.

Operations management will help startups define the processes of what works and doesn’t work for your business and manage the continual improvement process to ensure it remains aligned to the company’s vision.

Last month we welcomed Rhys Linton our Operations Manager to the Sales for Startups team.

Can you tell me a little about your background and previous experience? 

I spent a number of years working in Operations within complex, geographically dispersed environments.

I am also an accredited Business Analyst with the IIBA and BCS, as well as Project Manager with APM. 

Since joining the Sales for Startups team, can you share some key observations?

It’s been a really enjoyable first 6 weeks or so. The team has been extremely welcoming, and supportive of me in my new role. 

There is certainly a strong drive towards high-level achievement, operating at speed as well as an understanding and appreciation of the value of change. 

In your opinion, how have business processes changed in the wake of Covid-19?

Enormously. COVID has changed the business landscape arguably forever, and has forced businesses to operate remotely. This has meant changes have had to be accepted around collaboration, client/staff engagement, as well as challenging our own expectations of what ‘should be done’.

Covid-19 has also acted as the catalyst for many businesses to take a more thorough approach to how they operate today and how they can improve from within first.

How important is it for businesses to have an operations playbook?

What does the best version of this look like? If you don’t know what you do, how can you make it better? How can you find ways to improve? How do you measure success?

Having an understanding of your baseline and how your business should operate is essential to a sustainable and scalable business. There is no best version from my experience. I have seen these housed in documents with success, as well as more sophisticated methods used unsuccessfully.

The key is embedding this into your operation so that the wider team understands a) what should I do and why, and b) the importance of continuous improvement.

What is the end goal working with Sales for Startups?

My goal is to:

a) provide SFS with a baseline of their current operating model

b) utilise this to assemble a bespoke and comprehensive reporting process

c) embed a continuous improvement philosophy to the way we approach our systems and processes both internally and externally.

How often should company’s invest in reviewing their operations?

This is more of an open response. For me, every 3-6 months is a reasonable review period once the as-is is understood, however the culture must be built to create an environment where improvement opportunities and issues are discussed honestly and frequently. 

What are your top tips for scaling business operations?

There are 3 key considerations. Understand, Improve and Measure.

You simply cannot reliably scale your business without a detailed understanding of how it runs today.

You can certainly get by with a degree of intuitive understanding, or you may even strike lucky, however, this is the only way of guaranteeing success.

You must then identify areas in which the as-is processes can be improved, before identifying reliable and consistent ways to measure these improvements and the impact of your decision-making. 

Further Reading

Patrick Thorp
November 17, 2020

How do you develop a high performing sales team?

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Patrick Thorp
September 1, 2020

A Beginners Guide to Revenue Operations

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James Ker-Reid
February 2, 2022

What should you include in a sales strategy?

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