Gtmhub Business Operations Manager Alexandra Dimitrova explores how alignment is key to operational excellence.
As a hiker, I love the analogies that nature gives me every time I am out.
Similar to going on a long hike, company success is not simply about reaching the next summit. It is about knowing what the final destination is and purposefully making your way towards it. Knowing your destination not only gives purpose to the hike, but also prepares you for the journey through all the peaks and valleys along the way (oh, and sometimes chasms!).
Knowing a company’s mission is imperative for each individual, unit, and department to define the goals and outcomes they envision achieving. This is true no matter the company’s stage or size. Knowing the company’s mission helps give purpose, both on an individual level and by driving cross-functional collaboration and overall operational success.
Why is mission alignment critical for operations?
Operation team responsibilities differ in every company. One thing they share is that they help other teams achieve their goals faster, more efficiently, and without compromising on quality.
For these teams to build scalable business operations, 100% of their quarterly and yearly objectives should be aligned with those of other departments. Mission alignment across different departments is critical in avoiding chronic operational reactiveness and achieving excellence.
Setting up your Objectives and Key Results
When approaching goal setting at the beginning of the quarter or year, operations managers ask themselves, what is the objective they want to accomplish?
Without mission clarity, this question might be hard to answer. Or, if I may use the hiking analogy, we can define an objective as “to reach the next summit,” but if we don't know the direction we are heading in, we might choose the wrong path, making our way to the top longer and more exhausting.
For example, the operations team might decide to focus this quarter on implementing 'X' enablement tools for the sales teams. This objective sounds reasonable if we want to boost sales effectiveness. However, if the overall company goal for this quarter is to focus on retaining existing customers, this objective will not contribute to it.
This is where mission alignment and OKRs come into place. It reveals how well and where individuals and departments are aligned with their company’s mission.
In this case, a good objective for the operations team would be to "deliver the best customer experience." It is aligned with the company's strategic goals, is directive, and, at the same time, is ambitious enough to inspire the operations team.
Now that we have our first objective for this quarter, it is time to define how we will measure its success.
Key results attached to each objective should be measurable. Numbers speak well in all languages. That is the beauty of OKRs. No matter where your employees are located or what language they speak, numbers are there to show progress.
If I say, "I climbed a peak today," you may or may not be impressed. If I say, "I climbed a 3000m peak today," you would most probably congratulate me on my achievement.
Numbers are not the only important thing when we define our key results. It is also important how we define them.
For example, "climb one peak with a denivelation of 3000m" is different from "climb one peak of 3000m". Do you see the difference?
To go back to our key results, we can define them as follows:
Objective: Deliver the best customer experience
Key Result 1: Increase NRR from 80% to 110%
Key Result 2: Increase NPS from 5.0 to 11.00
You will notice the KRs are written in such a way that they require cross-functional collaboration. This is where OKRs unite different departments by having one goal.
To keep track of your progress, make sure you schedule regular sync meetings with the team members involved to discuss developments and blockers and plan the next steps.
For further inspiration, see other examples of Business Operations OKRs below:
Objective: Seamless Sales Onboarding Experience
KR 1: Launch one online sales onboarding and training platform
KR 2: Move 100% of the sales training materials to the new platform
KR 3: Decrease the onboarding time from 40 to 30 calendar days
Objective: Perfect Alignment between Marketing and Sales
KR 1: 100% lead assignment automation
KR 2: Make sure 100% of the MQLs are taken care of within 2 business days
KR 3: Build infrastructure to align marketing and sales email sequences across different channels
Objective: Measure for Success
KR 1: Build 1 Insightboard with 'X' amount of metrics showing overall company performance
KR 2: Update 100% of the KPIs weekly
KR 3: Automate 70% of the KPIs in the Insightboard
Note: depending on how your company is approaching OKRs, make sure that you select between one to three objectives per quarter. More than 3 objectives would result in dispersing your focus across multiple tasks, which would end in not achieving your desired outcomes.
If your OKRs are well written, one objective could be enough.