Director of operations: how to best manage business and teams?

Operations management: 3 words for a vast programme!

To run a successful agency or ESN, whether it has 20 or 100 employees, whether it specializes in marketing, advertising or web development, managing operations efficiently is a matter of life and death.

If, for some, managing an agency’s operations is the equivalent of project management, it is important to understand that in reality it is about delivering services in the most efficient way possible. In other words, successful operational management must have a positive impact on your company’s profitability. If it doesn’t, then you are doing something wrong.

As an end-to-end management tool, we have learned a thing or two about business management.

Scroll down to discover a detailed analysis of the key roles and responsibilities, best practices and biggest risks of operations management. In short, how to best manage business and teams? In short, how to best manage business and teams?

Also, find out how COOs are using the power of Furious in sales, resource planning, project management, invoicing and reporting.

What does a chief operating officer do?

The chief operating officer has generally studied at a prestigious business, management or engineering school. University training is possible, with specialisations in management, economics, marketing, law etc. But the roles and responsibilities vary depending on the sector you work in.

For example, if you work as a chief operating officer in a factory that produces pasta, you will probably be more concerned about the efficiency of your machines. A smaller part of your job will be to balance the workload of factory workers.

So what does a chief operating officer do in an agency or consulting firm?

The short answer: it depends.

The long answer: your main task will be to manage resource planning and organisational work, supervise the needs for high-level profiles and communicate with the general and financial managements.

The COO (Chief Operating Officer) is a key element in the proper management of the company. His action is also essential for human resources.

If you work in a larger organisation, you will work closely with project managers and account managers to ensure the success of projects by balancing workloads according to skills, deadlines and budgets.

“The COO – although his primary job is to support the operational elements of the company – plays a transversal role (management of several departments), strategic and participates fully in the development of the structure. This is the reason why the COO is always present at the CODIR and/or the general management of the companies.”

Thomas DAVID, Chief Operating Officer at Sarawak

Is the chief operating officer of an agency a kind of project manager?

The chief operating officer is responsible for the day-to-day management and improvement of the overall efficiency of the business. Some of the key roles and responsibilities include

  • High-level resource planning and strategic decision-making in resource management.
  • Development, implementation and review of operational procedures
  • Working closely with project managers or client managers to oversee budgets, resource utilisation, profitability and other key business performance indicators.
  • Reporting to the general management
  • Ensure that all employees keep track of their time spent
  • Helping the HR team to recruit and promote a culture that encourages excellent performance.

In addition, most operations managers will need a good combination of analytical and social skills, such as :

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Analytical skills that enables the conversion data into the right decisions
  • The ability to remain calm and focused under high pressure.

Let’s focus on the most important activities:

1. Resource planning

As an operations manager, you cannot do good resource planning without understanding the project requirements. You will work with the project managers or account managers to determine who will work on which project and when. Project managers will decide on time estimates and assess the availability of teams, while you will be responsible for moving resources from a higher level.

2. Monitor the evolution of the project

Even though operations management is not the same as project management, you will still need to check in regularly with project managers to answer the following questions: What are the ins and outs? What deliverables by when? What is the background of the client? etc.

Essential when colleagues take unexpected sick leave or request holidays. Or when there is a change in the project scope, which also happens… #agencylife

3. Time and cost monitoring

You are selling time for money. Time management therefore also includes monitoring costs, i.e. supervising budgets with the project managers. Are the resources you have chosen to work on this or that project performing well? How can this affect profitability?

Respecting deadlines is – by default – non-negotiable, although we all know how this often works. Monitoring how the company’s time is spent is essential for keeping clients happy and projects profitable.

4. Collaborate with HR on recruitment needs and leave management

With regular monitoring of time spent on each project, it is much easier to collaborate with human resources and make hiring decisions based on factual data, especially if some projects require a lot of overtime from your employees.

5. Reporting to management

Tracking time doesn’t just make hiring easier. The real-time data that comes from the times regularly monitored on the poles, as well as the fact of having your overheads and other expenses integrated into your profitability KPIs… All this helps management to manage and anticipate. You will know when you need to charge more, increase budgets or offer discounts to customers… And you will use historical data to improve the management of the company’s operations in the future.

Again, the way in which operations are managed varies according to the size and type of company you work for. Similarly, the main tensions and challenges are different from one agency to another. However, we have covered the three most common issues.

Operations Management – Best Practices

1. Be honest with your employees and customers.

Set clear expectations for your employees and customers and be realistic about deadlines. Before your company embarks on a new project, also make sure you include a time frame. This will allow teams to deliver quality work.

2. Request regular updates from your colleagues on the workload.

Get in touch with project managers and collaborators on a daily or weekly basis in order to follow the progress of the subjects. And to understand how resource planning can be optimised.

3. Take the time to audit

In terms of operations management, it is important to carry out regular audits after the ending a project. And take the time to improve organizational processes and procedures. What went well? What went wrong? What could we have done differently? It is essential to take the time to measure what can be improved for next time.

Manage your operations with Furious

Let’s examine some aspects of operations management with Furious :

Business

With Furious, set up your sales funnel in stages. Add the likely amount per deal, weighting and other key information related to each new project or potential client. This gives the agency operations manager an idea of the resources to be allocated for the coming weeks and months. And schedule meetings to synchronised with business development.

Projects and Planning

With the Furious Project Pipeline, you can create as many workflows as you like. Organise your projects accordingly. Schedule the events to be attached and you can thus easily automate a part of your business.

Furious also offers the creation of to-do pipes. You can create a pipe for technical projects, another for communication projects, another for studies etc.

You will also find real-time alerts in case of new tasks.

The three pillars of resource management in Furious are:

  • Balance the workloads of employees and determine in real time their availability for the coming days, weeks and months. Furious automatically alerts the people concerned in the situation of overbooking on the profile or over-budget workload for the project.
  • Anticipate the need for skills, materials or sites.
  • Managing leave

A significant part of the management of teammates’ schedules consists of having a system to monitor and manage leave, or teleworking. Automatic alert from the manager, one-click validation.

Once leave or telework requests are approved in Furious, they are automatically integrated into work schedules.

Decision-making dashboards

Furious crosses all the data from various sources: salaries, overhead costs, time tracking, expenses, occupancy rates, budget, available skills, etc. in order to extract decision-making dashboards.

For operations management, you can use a predefined dashboard with the reporting widgets we have deemed most relevant. Or you can create your own customised dashboards with any parameters you wish.

These dashboards are of course shareable, downloadable, printable 🙂

Automatic and recurring alerts are also possible, in order to relieve you a little more of your mental load!

Invoicing

With Furious, there’s no need to copy and paste data from your business management tool to your invoicing software.

Furious allows you to generate invoices in one click, automate sending and reminders and thus eliminate the risk of human error during monthly invoicing.

In fact, we gave you our tips on how to spend less time charging for time spent!

And if you use rate cards,it’s even faster!

Manage your operations with Furious

Increasing the company’s profit margins is merely one of the many benefits of good operations management. With an optimised planning and a clear view on the needs and risks, you establish the basis for better decision making and thus a better future for your company.

Request a demo with the Success team and find out how to benefit the most from Furious!

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