The 5 People You Need on Your Operations Team

By Kait Hobson

March 19, 2021

People You Need on Your Operations Team

“In the past, funding was the biggest need for startups,” says Naval Ravikant, entrepreneur and founder of Epinions and, “but today, it’s recruiting.” Whether you’re part of a large corporation or a small-scale startup company, the success of your organization depends on the people within your operations team.

It’s not always about quantity. Stocking your team with a few individuals who hold different skill sets will give your company the diversity it needs.

Let’s take a look at the five people you need on your operations team

1. The HR Specialist.

The human resources (HR) specialist is responsible for resolving HR issues and supplying talent when the team needs a new member. This person oversees employee data maintenance as well as risk and compliance management. HR should be able to answer the question: “Where is our organization going and how can we get there?”

The HR person answers HR-related queries, rolls out policy updates, conducts surveys and ensures that efficient management of resources and operational risk-control measures are in place to keep smooth business operations.

Qualities to look for:

  • Order and organization. This person needs organized files, strong time-management skills and personal efficiency.
  • Negotiation and problem solving. There will often be two or more opposing views, so this person needs to be able to find an acceptable middle ground.
  • Ethical practices. This person will be the conscience of the company (as well as the keeper of confidential information), so make sure he or she can be trusted with the responsibility.

2. The IT Guy

“Cloud requires much tighter integration of IT infrastructure. The time for cloud is now, but success depends on IT operations evolving to support the new computing paradigm,” notes Zeus Kerravala, founder and principal analyst of ZK Research.

An IT specialist is responsible for setting up new systems, routine maintenance, like virus protection, and keeping the operations team fully connected. This person should be in charge of understanding how the major technologies interplay, have a knowledge of design (from system to aesthetics to architecture), and be able to build user friendly platforms.

Qualities to look for:

  • Intellectual curiosity. Can they demonstrate how they’ve taken initiative to learn something new? Are they familiar with a variety of systems and operating platforms?
  • Can they adapt to their surroundings? Make sure this person knows how to script so that as technology changes, they push themselves to keep up.
  • Coding knowledge. Often, developers and designers may fall under the IT category, which requires coding skills for ongoing customization.

3. The Marketing Strategist.

With no marketing person in place, how will you get the word out about your company or product? This strategist owns the marketing strategy (many times this includes the sales strategy, too), gets your message across to staff and customers and oversees its implementation. He or she knows your industry inside out and helps you position your product, differentiate it from your competitors’ products and attract the right people.

This person is also ultimately responsible for deciding on your digital promotion efforts, which is why he or she needs to understand both your company and your buyer personas extremely well.

Your marketing strategist will help create a content calendar and keep your marketing efforts in line with your business goals.

Qualities to look for:

  • Strong written and communication skills. Does this person practice what they preach?
  • Mix of analytical and creative. The marketing strategist needs to understand numbers, but have an open, creative mind as well. They should be able to come up with brilliant ideas, but also provide key metrics and KPIs.
  • Proven success. Ask this person to prove that they understand marketing from an operations standpoint.

4. The Finance Guru

You may not need a finance person with the same level of training as an accountant, but due to the relatively small scale that startups initially operate at, it’s essential that your accounts are in order.

Enter your finance person.

The finance expert is responsible for all planning, overseeing, directing and evaluating the company’s fiscal performance—and making sure that what you have, money and resource wise, is being used effectively. The finance expert develops the budget to support business goals, manages operations to meet budgets, reviews forecasts and takes action as needed. This person also approves all hiring and salary requirements.

Qualities to look for:

  • Analytical skills. This person should be able to demonstrate logical thinking to gather and analyze a variety of financial information.
  • Self-management. Can this person perform efficiently and effectively without direct supervision or guidance? That will make him or her an asset to your operations team.
  • Relevant experience. Strive to find a finance person who can identify how they’ve successfully advised other organizations and what factors informed his or her actions that helped created success.

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5. The tech Support

What’s the plan when the office Wi-Fi goes out? Do you fidget with the router or sit on hold with your internet service provider waiting for answers? What about when your smartphone access control system acts up? When your office security is on the line, you need the right support.

Startups have a clear need for tech support to navigate through a crisis when a customer can’t access an application, or if he or she doesn’t receive an alert about degrading performance in the infrastructure.

Qualities to look for:

  • How well they work with others. This person must be able to easily, clearly and patiently communicate and cooperate with employees during tech flare ups.
  • Can they assess your existing information systems? This person should be qualified to analyze and report on the functionality of your existing equipment and systems, have experience with data security and disaster recovery.
  • How will they cyber-secure your technology? With smaller teams increasingly coming under attack by cyber criminals, it’s crucial to hire someone who can design and deploy a plan to secure all of your digital information.

Whether you’re looking to hire 20 people or five, having the right people on staff to manage your operations will make a big difference in your ability to perform. With the appropriate mix of people, processes and technology, these roles will help create a secure, functional and efficient operations team.

Kait Hobson
Kait Hobson

Workplace Innovation

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