What Are Business Operations Managers and What Do They Do?

Tech companies love biz ops pros. Here’s why.

Written by Hal Koss
What Are Business Operations Managers and What Do They Do?
Image: Shutterstock
UPDATED BY
Matthew Urwin | Nov 03, 2022

A business operations manager contributes to the overall health of an organization, often by analyzing data to create financial budgets, developing production goals and improving workflows for different departments. With growth as a high priority, this position leads company-wide initiatives that emphasize efficiency and profitability. 

What Is a Business Operations Manager?

Business operations managers work across departments to align teams, set goals, execute initiatives and improve processes — helping the organization run efficiently and effectively.

Business operations managers are like Swiss army knives — when it comes to contributing to various aspects of a business, they can pretty much do it all.

“If you consider yourself good at everything, but not great at anything, this is the job for you,” Emad ElShawa, senior manager of business operations and strategy at Fundbox, told Built In in 2020.

As companies expand and grow more complex, they often need someone who can work cross-functionally to align teams, steer projects and get stuff done. That’s why a business operations manager is crucial to a company’s success.

 

What Is Business Operations?

Depending on the industry and size and stage of the company, business operations may manifest in different ways.

In some cases, business operations might focus more heavily on change management. In others, it might deal with metrics and reporting alignment between different teams.

Essentially, biz ops is about strategically managing a company’s resources, making its processes standardized, smoothed and streamlined. That way, costs can go down, employee performance can go up and the organization can run more efficiently.

About 226,300 business operations manager positions are expected to open between 2020 and 2030, representing about 9.4 percent employment growth, according to projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

What is BizOps? | Video: ToutApp

What Does a Business Operations Manager Do?

Business operations managers are versatile employees who collaborate across several departments to find areas where teams can streamline processes, ramp up production and generate more revenue.  

To measure the effects of their decisions, business operations managers compile and analyze data on company revenue. They also make financial projections to estimate a company’s future performance and adjust financial budgets, production goals and business practices accordingly.  

Business operations managers sometimes report directly to the CEO and are often involved in devising broader strategies that guide the company.

 

Responsibilities of a Business Operations Manager

The responsibilities of a business operations manager vary by industry and organization, but there are some consistent expectations of the role. In 2020, Built In asked several business operations pros to explain what they do. Their responses below have been edited and condensed.

 

Build Relationships With Everyone

Often, business operations managers collaborate closely not only with their own biz ops teams (if those exist; sometimes, business operations managers are part of executive teams) but also with leaders from marketing, sales, customer success, HR, legal and more.

“Our biz ops team has worked with pretty much every function at the company. Depending on the project, there is no limit to the number of functions you would work with or the people you would interact with. I report to the head of biz ops, who then reports to the chief operating officer.” — Ayesha Jaggi, Plaid

 

Help Out Everywhere

It’s part of the business operations manager’s job to support the various departments, drive visibility and guide them toward efficiency.

“We’re like internal consultants. If you think about a body, we’re kind of like the spine. We have access and knowledge from the C-suite level and understand those priorities, as well as the managers’ priorities. At the same time, we sit in the middle; we have access to the other moving parts of the body. We work on different projects, ranging from high-level strategy to operational stuff. We look at the company from two angles: what is the strategy, and what are the infrastructural and operational needs to execute on that strategy.” — Sarah Ouyang, Lattice

 

Create Alignment and Synergy

Business operations managers are uniquely positioned, as they are often connected to top leadership, while also involved in — but distinct from — various departments. They leverage their positions to make sure department-level success is contributing to larger, organization-wide goals.

“My job is to ask the right questions. Sometimes the manager of a department may not want to make a certain decision; it may be more work for their department, but it’s the right decision for the overall project or the company. It’s my job to nudge them, to make sure they’re following that path, rather than making decisions specifically for their own organization.” — Emad ElShawa, Fundbox

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Think Analytically and Strategically

Business operations managers look for ways the company can seize new opportunities and reduce costs.

“Another big part of the role is having a strategic lens. The business is always evolving, so there are always new needs that come up. So we might assess, for example, where we want to potentially launch a new initiative, or figure out if there is a gap in the business or a problem we need to fix.” — Jaggi

 

Get Stuff Done

Yes, GSD is a vague, catch-all term. But biz ops managers really do have the explicit function of helping move projects along.

“A lot of my time is dedicated to understanding the progress of the projects I’m involved with. That means getting general status updates from team leads on what’s going good, what’s going bad and where they need me to leverage my influence throughout the company to drive something along that may be stagnating.” — ElShawa

 

Constantly Course Correct

Business operations managers typically have to pivot a lot.

“Several things come up during the course of a project that you didn’t initially anticipate. A decision will have to be made often within a day. It’s important that you stay on top of how it’s going, try to analyze what the problem is and make the best decision to continue pushing the team to the ultimate goal. When you put a project plan together, often you’re looking at it from an overall company, strategic point of view and putting together targets without the direct input of the various teams you’re working with. Sometimes we’ll launch a project with broad goals in mind.” — ElShawa

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Improve Processes

Biz ops managers dive into the details to help smooth out day-to-day work.

“Recurring responsibilities tend to be very operational. For example, if there’s a system error in one of our tools, if there’s something a sales rep can’t do that they normally can, they would ping me. I think about how to help sales reps become more efficient. For example, I’ll try to find a way to push funding information into Salesforce, so reps don’t have to hunt for that. Or, let’s say they have a very manual contract-signing process, I’ll roll out a way to automate that as fast as the click of a button.” — Ouyang

 

Monitor and Measure Metrics

Measuring key performance indicators, or objectives and key results, as they relate to the business’ operational efficiencies, helps keep everything on track. The business operations manager may oversee this.

“We monitor everything that’s working on an as-is basis, and then we continue to improve the efficiency and performance of the business. We’re setting targets every quarter. We’re measuring metrics. We’re seeing if the strategies we put in place are actually working to deliver the outcomes we expected.” — Jaggi

 

Succeed When Others Succeed

Business operations managers are often involved in lots of different projects with various teams. They are considered successful when those projects are effective and teams meet their goals.

“If I work extensively with the partnership function, our success is tied to the success of that function. Let’s say the partnership team has eight OKRs, or 10 metrics, to hit every quarter. If they miss that number, I hold myself accountable for them having missed that number. I’m working, day in and day out, in the trenches with every member of that team to figure out how they can achieve those targets. So I’m pretty much accountable for that success.” — Jaggi

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Qualities of a Business Operations Manager

There’s no cookie-cutter personality that neatly maps onto the role of a business operations manager, nor is there a common career path that leads straight to it. However, people who are successful in this role are often quick decision-makers, good problem solvers and savvy relationship builders.

 

Quick Decision Maker

A business operations manager has to act — and adjust. It’s a role suited for people who can be decisive while at the same time considering the overarching goals of the business and the needs of various stakeholders.

“The best biz ops managers generally have big-picture mentalities. They analyze situations and make decisions based on the company’s best interest, not that of an individual person or department. It’s important to have somebody who’s able to pivot quickly and make decisions, who can stay level-headed, not get too high and not get too low. A lot is going to be thrown at you.” — ElShawa

 

Good Problem Solver

A successful business operations manager has a knack for knowing what to do in complex situations.

“A good sense of problem-solving is really important. When I think about all the different projects, or all the different pain points that I hear from the managers, a lot of it is vague. So being able to understand what that problem is and then internalize it, digest it and break it into specific projects is really helpful.” — Ouyang

 

Relationship Builder

Business operations managers are constantly communicating with people — peers, managers, executives. The job is about supporting other teams, so a biz ops manager needs to be able to communicate effectively — and empathize — with them. The ability to forge relationships and create synergy within the organization is crucial to getting things done.

“Relationships are really important — being a nice person, having positivity in the work you do, being intentional about talking with others. I think that’s a very important skill for just being a good business partner.” — Jaggi

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