What Do Operations People Do?

Published on: October 23, 2012

Your operations people are the reason customers are happy, vendors continue providing you with services, and employees have enough resources. Operations team is the “A-team” of vision logistics and their #1 mission is to take care of the organization (feed it, protect it, and maintain it). Not all small companies and startups have operations teams, since a company has to mature to have one. In addition, operations is functionally incorporated into other divisions in many companies and only officially becomes separate once the company becomes a sustainable business.

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” – Muhammad Ali

That quote embodies my motto and is what I teach to those who want to become dedicated operations professionals. To further expand upon the analogy, it is much easier to climb a mountain when someone has already laid out the map, obtained all the supplies, made sure weather is optimal, and has an emergency response ready to go, if needed. When all the little details are taken care of, then you only have to focus on obtaining your peak physical condition – the logistics help enable your success. Operations is probably one of the most demanding functional areas, because the company never stops working and you rarely do too (just ask my wife about last decade together and how companies are often like my 2nd family).

So what does the operations team do for all the different stakeholders in a company?


  • Makes sure the company has a healthy amount of talent in the recruiting pipeline. The HR/Human Capital/Recruiting part of the operations team supplies talent when the team needs a new member. Is there to solve all HR issues.
  • Supports every functional area that needs resources and support. The operations team is there to be a concierge to your needs – they are your internal support A-team and help prevent and solve problems.
  • If a company is technology heavy, there may be an internal technology operations team. Sometimes it is kept together in the DevOps team (my favorite setup) and sometimes the internal IT operations team is separated from the product/technology operations team that is dedicated to exclusively supporting the product/service.

Founders & executive team:

  • Leads business predictability by providing forecasts, metrics, KPIs, and accountability in general. Operations people live and breathe numbers. If you want most truthful numbers, ask your operations team for them.
  • Provides financial accountability and business predictability if finance is part of the operations team.
  • Minimizes and neutralizes legal and other “bulls-eyes” on the company. The operations team will always have a member or two who is well-versed in laws and regulation, and they help the company navigate this environment. You can’t mess with a company that has a strong operations team, because you won’t get a chance to get close enough to hurt it!


  • Ensures the company’s investment in acquiring every hard-earned customer is well tended to. This is where the operation team is the best friends of the revenue team (sales and marketing) – their goal is to make customers happy!
  • Are the first ones to detect cancerous customers and recommend they are fired so the company can focus their resources on those who help the company grow rather than those which drag them down.

Vendors, suppliers, contractors:

  • Provide the same management and services as are supplied to customers since people who service an organization are as just as important as the customers.

Every company is different, but usually the “ingredients” are the same and just the ratios in each “recipe” are different.