What Do Operations People Do?

by Oct 23, 2012Operations Leadership, Talent Management

Your operations people are the reason customers are happy, vendors continue providing you with services, and employees have enough resources. The 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. Also, 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 teaches 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 the 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.

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


  • It 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 the 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 friend of the revenue team (sales and marketing) – their goal is to make customers happy!
  • 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 who drag them down.

Vendors, suppliers, contractors:

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

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