In such a fast-paced and changing industry it is more than ever the time to utilise digital operations to increase efficiency and performance from teams across a business. Our very own operations manager Gen (our internal lifesaver), unpacks this topic including the importance of understanding your company workflow, having a process and discusses adapting & learning for the future.

Video Transcription

All right we’re here for our next talks with Talk and today, or SAFTA noon I’ve done a couple of today, talking to Gen.

Gen is coming to us from Newcastle’s just moved up there and we are talking about operations. 

Talks by Talk: Digital Operations with Gen

Cooper:

Gen’s our operations ninja or also referred to as the firefighter. She gets deployed into any area that has a major internal fire in the business. I think that’s what a lot of operations sort of roles tend to do. 

But before we get into it Gen, could you just give for anyone watching, so generally we’re sort of I’m talking to like business owners and marketers and things like that. 

Can you just give a quick rundown on like a 1 or a 2 minute summary of sort of what you’ve done in your career today? How you’ve got to sort of the point that you’re at at the moment?

Gen:

Yes, I’ve actually done a lot of kind of varied roles across my career. 

I started in kind of studying media communications and from there it kind of led me into working for a media agency, which I didn’t even know existed. I thought we just called up TV and like I’d like to place an ad on this so that was kind of a real eye-opener for me. 

I kind of love that fast-paced media world. It did become a lot at the time and so it kind of moves me into more of a strategy type role that I worked in there and then I kind of moved on to doing a little bit more kind of strategy in product placement for TV, which is actually really interesting. 

A lot of that was kind of along the account management line, so I’d kind of done print, cinema, I’ve moved into TV,  did a bit of radio and then I guess at that time digital wasn’t a thing. The internet wasn’t a thing, so I guess when the opportunity came up we talked to do something in digital marketing and digital media I kind of jumped at the chance to kind of broaden my skills and I guess it hasn’t been the same from there. I’ve just loved kind of every minute of it and from that kind of digital marketing I’ve kind of grown into project management which has kind of led me to the role that I do now in ops, so it’s kind of in that digital space that you know I love its dynamic, it’s interesting and I guess operationally just finding other solutions to the problems is something that I’ve always done kind of throughout my career as well

Cooper:

Yeah, okay, and it’s interesting that you were in like client service type roles and account management not client facing roles and then you’ve really found something that you enjoy in operational roles. 

What is it that’s got you that sort of got you to make that switch? Or what transferable skills have you sort of taken over? Do you feel like your client facing work and past life has set you up pretty well for up stuff?

Gen

Yeah, definitely. I think it’s about the kind of problem solving of things.

I think there’s a lot of that in account management it is a different kind of problem solving but having that kind of put in operations.

I just enjoy it so much more because it’s about processes, it’s about people you know more than kind of your traditional brand problem or kind of client facing problem that you might have.

Cooper

Cool…so just thought the back of that then.

I think one of the things that made Talk being digital, so we’re an agency, so fairly nimble and then digital as well, so more nimble again one of the challenges we have is quite different to the challenges the operational challenges a lot of our clients or a lot of businesses out there face.

So when you seem to just get bombarded with a plethora of tools that make your life easier. 

There must be 10 million different tools out there and let them give you a free trial and then costing you another 300 bucks a month all the sudden you’re burning all your money on all these software programs versus I would dare say in the small to medium business world not most but a lot of businesses still rely almost exclusively on calls and emails meetings and just don’t get me wrong we do a lot of that at Talk as well. It’s really a cordon but they haven’t seen the or they haven’t fully utilized the opportunities of project management systems, CRM and things like that to really smooth out their workflow and increase efficiency in their workflow.

We’ve obviously done some projects internally in Talk particularly in the last six to twelve months that we’ve used to try to improve what we do from an efficiency point of view. 

What is your opinion on businesses that are not as exposed to that sort of digital software, digital tools world, what is your opinion on that? Or how would you recommend a business even start to dive into that world knowing that it can be so confusing?

Gen

I think it is definitely something that everyone should have.

I just think especially with projects or if you’re doing kind of customer service or even client facing just that email chain or the phone tag it just gets too much. There’s nothing there that’s kind of tangible, you lose so much information and I think with digital platforms and software it might seem scary. It might seem like it’s an impossible task but there are so many things out there for exactly what you said before to kind of trial or for 30 days. 

There’s so much paperwork out there that you can’t breathe. There are videos that you can watch. I think that it’s kind of lent itself to now become almost like integral at something that needs to happen for businesses and just like software companies have made it so easy to actually get in there and kind of start your journey.

I think it’s kind of defining your business goal. What kind of do you want to achieve, kind of get feedback and advice from your employees from the company? I’m kind of what are your current pain points and what do you really want to see improve?

Cooper

Yeah, okay. Just on that, I think I’m just thinking through some of the stuff we’ve been through some systems we use. 

A lot of the tools they are designed…the user experience is designed in a way that you’re supposed to be able to sort of plug your email in and then start using it straight away. 

It’s supposed to be instantaneous, we haven’t experienced it to that level. It tends to need like a project owner at least from what I’ve seen. 

Do you agree with that or do you feel like it’s something where you know the business owner or a busy marketer over could sort of would sort of take on the digital ops piece as a side gig almost?

Gen

Yeah, I think it really depends on the business and how large it is and what they want to achieve. 

Marketers wear a different hat to someone who is biz ops and I think that having that dedicated person is really crucial because they can kind of set up the processes, they can kind of be willing to adapt and they can learn what the business needs. 

They can change it, they can look at new software. It’ll probably have to be someone that would be interested in that, I know that’s not kind of everyone’s cup of tea. It’s like a marketer wants to just market the business options out there selling. I think it’s good to have that dedicated person whoever it might be in the business.

Cooper

You are saying that understanding what company needs is really important, so you see that as the workflow of the company, so I talk to clients a lot about if you’ve got a paper process and it’s costing you 200K a year to brand well you might spend 20 or 30 K worth of money or time with your team, time is money same thing. 

You might invest X to get an efficiency play of 80% or 70% or 60% reduction on that 200K of admin costs and then you can move that labour bucket into higher value tastic marketing lead generation and I sort of feel like that type of process the digital process it’s really key to understand first the workflow that the business is currently doing before you try and build something using software and really try to match some of what the company’s doing. So it’s not too far removed from their norm but not like in how to inherit old bad habits. Does that make sense?

Gen

Yeah. It’s a process and I think that’s maybe why a lot of people kind of haven’t taken it up. 

They had their paper process, they might be stuck in their ways and that’s the way we do it, that’s the way we’ve always done it. 

But I think that putting the research in to see what your company does, what it wants to achieve and then kind of calling out…okay doesn’t this work, this does work here and even just that trial and error of taking the time to put it into a system, get people’s involvement like heads of departments or heads of the business as well to get their take on it, get feedback from people in the business and it’s easier to be able to structure and build something that’s going to work not just for you but for everyone else as well, which can be hard but rolling it out in a couple of stages might also be good. So then you can kind of adapt and learn from you know what you’ve done.

Cooper

Yeah…so just carrying on from that once you have rolled something out.

Do you see a pattern of is it a time period where you can sort of leave it or is it a case of it needs continuous improvement or what’s the ongoing peace?

Gen

Looks like continuous, just continuous improvement because something that’s going to work for your business now if you want to continue, if you want to grow, that’s not going to work for your business in five years. 

I think it’s just having that constant finger on the pulse. Software changes, you might find the software that you have gotten all of a sudden doesn’t work for your team anymore because you’ve added five different departments or you’ve changed the way you’re working.

Especially because businesses are changing so much now as well. It’s just kind of good to have that check in every month, every six months. 

I think at the start, it’s important to do feedback probably every month for the first six months and then rolls something out that can be kind of foolproof for the people for the next like six months to a year and then kind of keep going from there another ending process.

Cooper

Yeah, continuous improvement is very important. 

Just to sort of wrap it off or wrap it up…do you have any tools, any software…stuff that we’re using or stuff that you’ve seen other companies use that would be a good general sort of around reference point or starting point for a business whether they’d be digital or sales focused business or manufacturing or FMCG or whatever? Anything that they would suggest would be universal enough for them to start looking at?

Gen

Yeah…so we have actually just moved to Monday.com, which is one of the largest project management software out there.

I think that’s a really good starting point because it’s easy to use, it’s simple, it has kind of your built-in templates for anything ranging from HR, ranging from sales, I think it’s a really good platform to start on. 

They’re actually really good at providing kind of relevant information like documents, videos, anything to set you up on your journey that customer service you great. So I think that even starting out with a couple of free trials on a few smaller platforms, it’s kind of not scary, it’s pretty, it has colours and that always helps.

Cooper

Thank you, Gen. Thank you so much for your time and really appreciate it. Bye.