The not-so-secret formula for RevOps

the formula for RevOps

While RevOps may have varying definitions, it will always follow the same general mathematical formula. Yes, math is important!

Here’s the not-so-secret formula for RevOps:

Y = 𝑓(X), or in words: “Y is a function of X.” 

There you have it! RevOps explained. OK - we haven’t discovered the theory of relativity or saved the planet, but read on to see how this simple formula will keep your RevOps projects in scope and on track.

What this formula is telling us is that the final thing we want to achieve (Y) is largely determined by the changes or variables in the inputs and processes of a system (X). 

Here’s a simple example of a business process:

revops business process

So you see the X and the Y items. 

What is perhaps the easiest concept to wrap our heads around is what is most important - what we’re trying to achieve - the Y items:

  • Company strategic goals
  • Products delivered
  • Revenue (profit!)
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Increased efficiency

But what about the X items? These are both external to, and within your carefully designed business processes:

  • Specific actions needed to achieve goals
  • Quality / outcomes of business process steps
  • Key performance actions that influence customer satisfaction
  • Variables affecting process efficiency
  • Dealing with inputs outside of your direct control

This may all seem easy on paper, but the reality is that many business operators have trouble connecting the Xs with the Ys. 

But why? 

I have a few theories:

  1. (Most common scenario) - there’s never been a need; things have always gone pretty well
  2. (Worst case scenario) - that’s the way we’ve always done it
  3. (Ideal scenario) - rapid scaling or shifts in market expectations have made existing operational processes irrelevant

Now, there are a lot of other things that cause operational discord which are certainly within the realm of RevOps (nothing revelational here):

  • Increasing technological debt
  • Undocumented / bad processes
  • Bad technology fit
  • Communication failures / breakdowns
  • Silos in business operations

But, the bigger-picture focus - the one that will drive the Y results we’re ultimately after is a never-ending strategic focus on the X variables - the ones we have control over and the ones we don't.

You’ll notice in the simple diagram above, not every variable in the process is getting focus. In real life, we make best-guess hypotheses based on available data. And experience dictates that not everything should be adjusted at once. 

Or should it?

There’s always an exception to every rule. If your core processes haven’t been re-imagined from the ground up in the last handful of years - you are due for a complete overhaul (ouch, I know!). This is because the pace of technology growth and customer expectations causes massive shifts in the way companies deliver traditional business outcomes (and discover new ones!). 

technology change

We all want to stay relevant, right?

How to determine which X variables should receive RevOps priority attention?

The best method is to start with a Y and work your way back using as few process steps as possible. You'll recognize that each individual process step represents many different sub-processes and individual departments responsible for outcomes.

As you begin the journey of putting your business on paper you will discover that you’re building a roadmap for where to focus your efforts! This is an exciting moment!

But! You must not give in to temptation. This is not the time to begin implementing change!

The exercise of building and changing business processes cannot happen without talking with the people responsible for carrying out those workflows and the people at the end of the process (your customers!).

As painful as it may be, the quickest path to improvement is accurately documenting the way processes are actually being carried out - not the way you think they are.

You must accept the fact that you will be investing in creating both an “As-is” and a “To-be” version of your business processes.

It is both arrogant and naïve to assume that any one individual has all the data needed for a rapid (and successful!) “To-be” implementation.

revops implementation more than a good idea

The best way to learn about a plot of land is to actually visit it. If you intend on constructing a building, you’ll need a soil analysis. If you plan on raising a family there you might want to know what the neighbors have to say about the area.

There’s nothing like walking the land to give you a good sense of it.

The best place to learn about how and why business processes are running the way they are is to get into the weeds. You cannot bypass the steps of interviewing key stakeholders, observing the way they work, and looking at the tools they use - all with an open mind.

Asking “Why?” is one of the most important questions in understanding which X variables need change.

The RevOps mantra: measure twice and cut once

Just because an As-is process isn’t ideal doesn’t mean it isn’t working. Without accurate before and after data, how will you truly know you’ve improved anything?

Take advantage of the As-is documentation and ensure you are collecting all the key performance indicators possible. Give yourself solid data to work from.

Change is difficult and most humans aren’t a big fan. Change is often viewed as chaos, especially when there are perceived failures as a result of past change efforts.

change is hard to accept

The old adage to “measure twice” applies to more than just cutting a piece of finish trim for a beautiful new fireplace mantle. 

You are measuring the effectiveness of current processes but you are also taking a measure of the people involved in your processes - both internal and your customers!

Internally, employees will be a deep source of ideas. They are on the front lines after all! 

Externally, customers will tell you exactly what they want and where you measure up.

The Y results you are after are a sum total of all the ways you work with the X variables in your processes.

Only after thoroughly documenting your As-is processes, is it time to work on the To-be planning. And once you've iterated through all critical workflows and implemented change, it will be time to begin again.

As a HubSpot-focused RevOps agency, we are deeply interested in lasting improvements that create the most value.

One of our initial goals in working with a new client is getting an accurate picture of how existing X variables and processes relate to the big picture Y outcomes. And even better - exposing the data points that will help tell the future story of improvement in terms of true value. 

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Picture of Jesse Spencer-Davenport Jesse Spencer-Davenport
Jesse is a technologist who doesn't believe the way things have always been done is the way they should be done - and worse - if it works - see how to make it better. Business, people, relationships, and curiosity all provide his reason for being.


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