Planning skills, analytics, operations management, problem-solving... We explore the most common habits of successful COOs and their connection to technology. How do COOs leverage technology?
Being the COO of a company is not an easy job. In fact, COO is one of the most complex professional profiles to find due to the variety of skills required and the complexity of the job, which, among other things, requires a great capacity for organisation, analysis, project management, problem solving, strategic vision, process development, etc.
The ability to plan is undoubtedly a must-have for any COO. However, planning is just as important as setting clear business objectives and continuously monitoring them. Successful COOs are those who think strategically and who, from the very first moment they plan or design any process, do so in business terms, thinking about the business results they want to achieve and how they will be measured.
Focusing on how to create value for the company through the management of employees, stakeholders and customers is one of the most common characteristics of high-performing COOs.
Technology plays a major role in all of this. Fortunately, technological advances have brought us to a point in history where data analytics and technology streamline COO's tasks and, when properly harnessed, facilitate their work and increase their performance.
What are the habits of successful COOs and what technologies do they use?
1. Monitoring and analysis of ongoing operations
Nowadays, constantly monitoring business activity is essential for any department. In the case of operations managers, even more due to the importance of planning and process design of this professional profile.
In this sense, the use of integrated management software such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is essential for a COO. Systems such as ERP integrate multiple management functions into a single system, allowing COOs to manage all of a company's operational processes.
Among other things, ERP's advantage is that it works with multiple APIS that operate as independent modules, but are perfectly compatible with each other and have a single integrated database. In addition, they facilitate the establishment of workflows through a workflow engine that allows the COO to establish the different tasks of a process or operation and manage them from any module of the system.
2. Development of a data-driven mindset
For operations managers, a data-driven mindset is essential to approach day-to-day and strategic decision-making.
Successful operations managers rely on data and metrics as critical elements in making decisions, recommendations and requirements. Increasingly, consolidating a working environment based on a data-driven culture and smart, data-driven decision making is the key to success for any manager and especially for the COO, who has a cross-functional profile within the company.
In relation to this, tools such as Excel or Power BI are essential for any COO.
In relation to the previous point, an effective COO cannot do without reports and dashboards.
The operational dashboard is an indispensable resource for any COO, as it allows them to monitor ongoing operations and analyse them from both a practical and a strategic point of view.
1. Don't forget the Balanced Scorecard
Although opereational dashboards are the most used reporting tool for a COO, a good COO should not ignore the balanced scorecard (BSC), which includes the overall strategies of an organisation. Making an aligned use of both enables the COO to subordinate the management of ongoing operations and processes to the organisation's general business objectives.
2. Simplify performance indicators and metrics
The best operations managers have the ability to identify the most relevant performance indicators and dimensions for analysing the performance of the activity and ongoing operations. Despite having to communicate complex processes, synthesising them into easy-to-follow concepts will increase their work efficiency.
Keep it simple. Use simple metrics. The best COOs measure performance by synthesising data, performance indicators and KPIs. Because of the difficulty of their activity, it is easy for the COO to over-complicate dashboards and KPIs, which can lead to poor bottom-line performance.
A COO must have the ability to simplify key performance indicators or KPIs into small weekly or even daily indicators. This, in turn, will allow them to recognise any deviations from the set objectives , to identify errors and to correct them before it is too late.
4. Strategic vision
In addition to many other competencies, COOs are responsible for managing and caring about what team members do, as well as when they do it and why. Thus, a COO must have tha ability to translate the business vision and objectives into easily understandable and actionable initiatives. They must therefore be able to intervene where necessary and keep the business on track.
To keep the strategic vision in mind, Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) platforms, which enable the transfer and exchange of data between organisations according to global standards, can help a COO to move away from manual administrative tasks to focus on more strategically important processes.
High-performing COOs never lose sight of the business strategy and align their work with the company's purpose, values and culture. A COO's strategic approach is as important as planning, organisation and management competences.
Let's be honest, a COO always has work to do. As a result, day-to-day activity can cause them to neglect high-level strategy. Spend some time each week thinking about the biggest obstacles preventing the company from achieving its goals. While it will probably be impossible to address all problems or areas for improvement immediately, make sure that you are making monthly progress and that you can demonstrate significant improvements over the course of a year.
5. Building trust with the CEO
For a COO, building a relationship of trust with the company's director is a must so that the CEO can delegate the necessary tasks to the COO and focus on business strategy.
As in any meaningful relationship, trust, empathy and communication are vital. Building and maintaining a bond of total transparency with the CEO is essential so that the COO can work to the best of their ability.
There is no better way to build trust than through dashboards that show the CEO the activity performed and its results. Reporting and data visualisation tools such as Power BI play a key role in communicating real, demonstrable facts —based on data— in a format that encourages communication, transparency, conclusions and decision making.
COOs play a fundamental role within the company. The multifunctionality of their profile and the complexity of the processes they manage can make it difficult to find a good COO. In this article we have explored some of the most common habits of successful COOs and what technologies they need to be able to carry out their work with maximum efficiency.
However, not everything is on COO's. In many companies, some of the habits included in this list are impossible to carry out due to an overload of unproductive manual tasks. In this sense, integration and automation are essential so that COOs can fulfill their potential.
At Bismart we are experts in the automation of processes and operations and data integration. We can help you.