In the last five years alone, operations functions have skyrocketed — and for good reason. From sales, to marketing, to engineering, for companies looking to scale (or sustain some level of steady growth), operationalizing core aspects of the business is a must. And we see product as the next function that’s in for an operational transformation.
In 2015, VC Jeff Bussgang wrote a post about how sales operations is the secret to scaling for startups, and captured the rise in ops roles perfectly: “As companies stabilize their business models and find product-market fit, they begin to adjust from a hunch-driven operating model, where decisions are made by the founders in large part on gut instinct, to a metrics-driven model, where decisions are made by professional managers based on data.”
No matter which team they serve, the reason for implementing an ops function usually boils down to three key outcomes: better visibility and collaboration, increased efficiency, and more output. To better understand why product ops is on the rise, it’s helpful to think about the ops roles that are already widespread and accepted. Product ops will of course come with its own nuances and specific responsibilities, but you’ll notice some common themes among all of these ops functions.
The business driver: Sales ops
Sales operations (sales ops) exists to help increase the sales team’s productivity and effectiveness by reducing friction in the sales process. Sirius Decisions defines sales operations as the “critical link between the development and the execution of the sales strategy and go-to-market strategy.” Sales ops responsibilities can include developing compensation and incentive plans, territory structuring, process optimization, and hiring and training.
The efficiency seeker: Marketing ops
Marketing operations (marketing ops) enables marketing teams to operate and scale efficiently by reinforcing marketing strategy with metrics, infrastructure, business processes, best practices, budgeting, and reporting. Among other things, marketing ops is usually responsible for maintaining the marketing tech stack, quantitative planning and forecasting, and continuous measurement of marketing’s performance.
The hybrid: RevOps
Revenue operations (RevOps) is the intersection of sales ops and marketing ops, and aims to support the operational side of the entire customer lifecycle. Put simply, RevOps is responsible for the processes, systems, and data that revenue teams (sales, marketing, and customer success) use every day. RevOps is increasingly common, especially as the way customers buy products shifts, and alignment on the customer lifecycle is more important than ever.
The builder: DevOps
Development operations (DevOps) is a set of practices for developing software that automates processes between software developers and IT so that they can build, test, and release software faster and with more confidence. DevOps is an approach or method that is carried out by DevOps engineers, but still aims to reap similar benefits as the three functions mentioned above.
The trusted advisor: Product ops
Although the definition of product ops is less rigid than the four definitions above, product ops can be thought of as the intersection of product, engineering, and customer success. The function exists to support the R&D team and their go-to-market counterparts to improve alignment, communication, and processes around product development, launch, and iteration.
Want to learn more about product ops? Download The Rise of Product Ops to learn the five core areas of the role, why it’s on the rise, eight characteristics of a successful product ops person, and more.