The Commons Weekly Digest
Welcome to our Weekly Digest. Think of it like a TL;DR of the massive group chat that happens in The Commons community every day.
In this week's issue:
- BizOps across different orgs: an interview with Sybil (Clio - Series E, SaaS) & Alysha (ResQ - Series A, Marketplace)
- Learning at The Commons
- 🚨 Core & Strategic Finance Sprint applications are open for September. 2 weeks left to apply!
- 🎉 Two IRL events: Toronto & NYC (limited spots)
- Your Weekly Level Up
- ✏️ Practice Interview Question: How do you approach problems?
- ✅ Community Reccos: Tunes!
- 💭 Thought Starter: #commonroom-workingtogether
- 💡 Brain Teaser
- 🚀 Community Share: A hot job opening and so many wins!
BizOps across different orgs: an interview with Sybil (Clio - Series E, SaaS) & Alysha (ResQ - Series A, Marketplace)
BizOps is one of our favorite roles in tech. It’s wide in scope, fast paced, and requires both high-level strategic thinking and a deep level of analysis. It can also look different depending on the company. We sat down with two alumni of The Commons who are now in BizOps Manager roles to pull back the curtain on BizOps, and learn more about what the roles entail at their companies. 🧐
You both work in BizOps functions at different companies - one being a Series A marketplace org and the other being a Series E SaaS org. Can you tell us a little bit about the companies?
Alysha (Series A, Marketplace): I'm Alysha, I currently work at ResQ as a BizOps manager. ResQ is a Series A marketplace platform in the repair and maintenance industry. We service both sides of the market: restaurants and vendors. We help the service providers - like plumbers or electricians - find work at restaurants, as well as restaurants find the repair and maintenance that they need.
Sybil (Series E, SaaS): I'm Sybil and I'm a Senior Analyst on the BizOps team at Clio, a Series E legal tech company. Clio has already spent 14 years in the market, originally as a software as a service (SaaS) company for legal practice. We’ve since expanded to payments and are currently working on international expansion.
How would you define the BizOps function at your company?
Sybil (Series E, SaaS): The scope of BizOps teams can vary so much from company to company, so I usually describe BizOps overall using a bit of a cliche: BizOps acts as the internal consulting team for the company*. BizOps works with teams across the org to improve operational efficiencies and provide strategic input.
Specifically at Clio we have two big mandates. The first is reinforcing reporting and OKR monitoring and empowering other teams within the company to own their metrics. The second is strategic planning as we continue to scale, and making sure we have solid business cases behind the decisions made, such as building a new product.
Alysha (Series A, Marketplace): At ResQ, the major focus for BizOps is growth. I would split up our role into two pieces. The first is designing and implementing experiments to test new hypotheses and get our product to market. An example of this would be working with our product team to run an experiment to help them decide whether or not to allocate more resources to a new feature. The second piece is supporting other teams, similar to what Sybil said about BizOps being the “internal consulting team”. For example, helping another team gather the data needed for insights or helping them implement reporting to better understand performance.
*The Commons: We’ll flag that BizOps teams in tech are almost always both strategizers and doers (versus in consulting where you can often find yourself strategizing but not executing). In tech, you'll find the execution elements amplified in certain orgs, like Marketplace companies.
If there is such a thing, what does a typical day as a BizOps Manager look like?
Alysha (Series A, Marketplace): I'd say a typical day is broken down as follows: 25% of your day is spent in cross-functional meetings with other teams, 50% of your time is in the weeds with the experiments you’re running - keeping track of performance and making sure they are being executed correctly, and the last 25% is made up of ad hoc asks that you pick up from the team. For example, it could be that something's not working as expected and needs attention, dealing with a client request or providing extra support to the product team. The BizOps team is the first line of defense for problem solving any operational issues that may come up on any given day.
Sybil (Series E, SaaS): There are very few “typical” days on the BizOps team at Clio. Every day is spent tackling a different project, and they are all quite varied. One project might require me to do a deep analysis to reach a decision, while another might require a very quick decision, only being able to analyze at a high level.
Another point I’ll add is beyond the specific projects we are working on, stakeholder management is an extremely important skill and it’s critical to spend time maintaining relationships across departments. Since we work on so many different projects, it’s important to have good working relationships with others. That might look like bi-weekly or monthly coffee chats with people from other teams to hear about what they’re working on and what challenges they are facing. This also helps us, as the BizOps team, to have a better understanding of what’s going on in the organization as a whole, so that we can identify areas of synergy - like teams who may be working on similar projects that could benefit from coming together.
Can you share an example of a project you've worked on?Alysha (Series A, Marketplace): An example of a project I’ve worked on was a customer segmentation exercise. When I started at ResQ, we were approaching all customers the same. As a growing marketplace company, we realized that wasn't scalable and it’s advantageous to approach different customers in different ways, depending on their needs. It was really an exercise in putting data behind segmenting our customer base and defining our service levels accordingly. It was a big project that required aligning stakeholders from the BizOps and Customer Success teams. We were to achieve alignment by using a scalability lens which spurred a lot of really great discussions on growth and risk. Such as, who are our most important customers? Which types of customers should we try and avoid? Etc.
Sybil (Series E, SaaS): I’ll dive into one of my first projects. In SaaS business models you have monthly recurring revenue (MRR) events. Identifying opportunities to boost Expansion MRR and preventing Reduction MRR are two big areas of focus. My project was to analyze Reduction MRR trends and provide a recommendation to Customer Ops to minimize reduction. This hadn’t been done before so I needed to start the project from scratch, which is something that I particularly enjoy. As a side note, that’s something you get to do a lot in tech - work on something that nobody has done before, either because it is something new or it was not a priority until now.
There were two things that I learned from this project:
- Storytelling. You need to be great at storytelling and context sharing and you need to adjust based on the audience. Depending on which stakeholders or teams within your company you are presenting to, you’ll need to tailor your presentation to be most relevant for them in order to have them understand and buy in to your recommendation.
- Stakeholder management. As we’ve discussed, in BizOps you are often working with other teams who are experts in their fields. It’s crucial to work with them with empathy and show that you have their team’s best interests in mind and are not making recommendations or implementing initiatives that will make their jobs harder. Using good stakeholder management skills, you can start to build trust and gain alignment on the path forward.
Check out the full discussion with Sybil & Alysha here, including what stakeholders they work with & how many projects they typically tackle at once.
➡️ If you're interested in BizOps, join our September Core (BizOps) Sprint by applying here.
🪂 What's happening at The Commons
- Recruiting Round Table: Advice for Job-Seekers with community members, Raza (BizOps at Webflow) and Ryan (Product Adoption at Plooto) | Tuesday, September 6 at 7PM ET | Community only, sign up here
- Demystifying Strategic Finance with Strategic Finance Sprint mentor, Megan (StratFin at Partnerstack) | Wednesday, September 7th at 12PM EST | Open to all, sign up here
- 💥 IRL: Toronto Speed Networking Mixer | Wednesday, September 14 6 - 10PM | Open to all, but limited spots! Sign up here
- 💥 IRL: NYC Tech Mixer: New Friends in Business & Tech - Hosted by The Commons & mentor Andrew Yeung | Wednesday, September 21 6-9PM | Open to all. Sign up here
Recent past events:
- NYC Mentor Dinner
- Office Hours: Designing the Ideal Community Onboarding
- Community Chat: Making the Move from Ops to Product with Tobin, Head of Growth & Product at Purified News
Application Deadline Alert:
Looking to join The Commons? Your way in is through a Sprint. Apply to secure your seat below. You'll be welcomed into the community as soon as you enroll.We're currently reviewing applications for the following Sprints:
- 🚀 Core - kickoff is the week of September 19th
- 💰 Strategic Finance - kickoff is September 12th
Sold out Sprints:
- 🖥 Product - The summer cohort has officially kicked off. Secure your seat for the October Sprint now, ahead of our official Sprint drop.
- 📈 Revenue Growth - The September cohort is officially filled. Reply to this email if you want to secure your seat early for the January Sprint.
What we're talking about...
Discussions in The Commons are prolific. Here’s a highlight from our community thread on salaries for remote work 💰
Community Ask: If a role is remote, do they still consider the cost of living for the city you're living in? I'm moving to San Francisco in less than a month (with the same company) and my salary is very competitive in LA but my compensation is below market rate in SF. How do hiring managers think about this?
"I have heard of instances in which companies just take/create an average remote salary and then pay that out accordingly for remote employees in the role. If the role is remote, they probably won't flex the payout on that (i.e. they may still increase salary for more competitive candidates and such)." - Fernando
"It honestly depends on the size of the org - large tech companies will adjust, startups for the very most part will not from my experience." - Nei
"From my POV: if I was moving to a cheaper city, I wouldn't expect that my company would decrease my salary. Therefore, if I was moving to a more expensive city, I wouldn't expect my company to increase my salary. But agree with everyone above that is very subjective and you could negotiate with your company depending on how much leverage you have." - Saumil
Your weekly level up ⏫
✏️ Practice Interview Question
Question: How do you approach problems?
What They're Testing For: They're trying to understand how you would tackle an ambiguous (and likely complex) problem - as you'll probably be seeing a lot of those on the job!
- Clearly describe your process - how do you break down the problem, how do you decide what information you need to uncover, how do you prioritize, etc.? Walk them through tools and techniques you use to work through a problem.
- Be ready with an example of a complex problem that you had to tackle.
- Join our Core Sprint to build reps problem solving complex problems - the best way to get better at problem solving is to do it again and again, with different contexts. Apply here (kicks off Sept 19).
✅ Community Reccos
Speaking of salary negotiations, above. Here are two article recommendations from the community on job negotiation:
💭 Thought Starter
Recently, Laura polled our community members on if they WFH or go to the office (vote and see the poll results here). Given how many WFH, we decided to try something new! Head to the #commonrom-workingtogether Slack channel if you want to hop on calls to work together, virtually. 💫 Have other creative ideas for how our community can collaborate during WFH days? Ping Laura!
🧠 Brain Teaser
There are three boxes of eggs. In each box there is either a set of big eggs, small eggs or big and small eggs mixed. The boxes are labelled LARGE, SMALL and MIXED but each box is labelled incorrectly. What is the least number of boxes you can open to know which eggs are in which box and why?Check here for the answer!
💡 Community Share
The Commons community is filled with tidbits of advice and interesting shares. In case you missed it, here's a popular share from this week - all of the amazing wins that the community is accomplishing! 🏆 Plus, a hot job posting at AtoB ⬇️
Thanks for leveling up with us!
If you want to chat about The Commons, text us at +1-416-619-9042 or jump on a call HERE.