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The Digital Utopia Podcast Episode #37

RevOps Triage: How to Systematically Address Bottlenecks

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About the podcast

The Digital Utopia Podcast is for SMB Marketers and Business Leaders looking to align their Marketing, Sales, and Service departments so they’re part of one powerhouse growth team.

Each episode will dive into the strategies, philosophies, and tools that will change your approach to organizational growth, give you renewed focus and clarity, and allow you to build a brand that not only helps you stand out—but win.

The Digital Utopia Podcast is produced by Digitopia and hosted by Frank Cowell and Joseph Freeman.

Episode transcription

 
Frank  
Oftentimes, that's what happens in organizations, they have a process. And then it's not operationalized because many times organizations develop a process, they don't operationalize it. And then it just relies on people's memory, which is not a good approach.
 
DJ  
You're listening to the digital utopia podcast, a resource dedicated to helping b2b leadership and executives gain clarity and focus in a chaotic marketplace.
 
Frank  
Hey, gang, welcome to the digital utopia podcast, Episode 37. I'm your host, Frank Cowell, and I'm joined by my co host, 
 
Joe  
Joseph Freeman, 
 
Frank  
We have an exciting topic this morning, we're talking about the triage within Reb. Ops. It's probably a fancier name, Joe, right. 
 
Joe  
I mean, we call it bottleneck analysis.
 
Frank  
Bottleneck analysis. That is what we're talking about today, let's jump into how you perform a bottleneck analysis when you're trying to uncover revenue optimization opportunities within your organization. 
 
Joe  
Yeah, so I suppose you could do this a number of ways. And you could come up with your own way. But we came up with a way we came up with an actual decision tree that you can follow to systematically walk through what's broken in the you know, path to get any more revenue revenue. So at a very, very high level, what we do is we assess the platform, and then we move on to the process, and then we move on to the people. And we go in that order for a very specific reason. Because usually, you can fix little problems up at the top at platform and process. And it almost never really is a people issue it can be, and we're gonna talk about that. But we do go in a specific order for that reason. So let's start at the top, you are looking at your dashboard. And your dashboard is broken up so that you can see bottlenecks, which are the KPIs not hitting the numbers, you wish they would add a specific lifecycle stage. So the lifecycle stages, of course, would be working down from the top fan going, we got customers below that. And then we've got opportunities that lead to customers. Below that we have your qualifiers, which is both mq ELLs and SQL. Before that we have leads before that we have visitors and their strangers before that. So if you're looking at your dashboard, and you notice that for whatever reason, the KPI at the qualified level is not being hit consistently. Well, you've got a bottleneck. And what do you do with that? 
 
Frank  
Yeah, and so I, we should clarify that if, whatever what you just described as the macro funnel of your business, so whatever the macro funnel is for your business, we describe those lifecycle stages that you just mentioned, that's what we recommend that you're gonna have one or two KPIs that each of those stages at most, but in your business, you you might have some nuance to that are around that debt are specific to your business, but they generally fall into those buckets.
 
Joe  
So you've, you've identified, there's a bottleneck, what's your very first step break? 
 
Frank  
Okay, the very first thing is you want to look at that KPI. And you want to then dive into the metrics around that now you've heard us in other episodes, talk about the fact you want very few KPIs per major milestone per major lifecycle stage, right? Those are the ultimate outcomes that you're trying to drive at each of those stages. But conversely, you won't have a lot of metrics, because the metrics are not what you're accountable to. But there are indicators to help you be predictive in ensuring that you're not gonna miss a KPI unexpectedly. Or if you do miss a KPI they help you triage and analyze, which is what we're getting into here. 
 
Joe  
And we've said in past episodes, that the KPIs are you there are numbers that you can look at to see what happened, right? Different from the metrics, which are numbers, you can see that will help you understand what might happen. They're leading indicators. 
 
Frank  
Yeah, they can be leading, but they also can be some lagging in there, right there. They can also be outcome based, they can be leading based, they could also just be simply tracking of behaviors, behaviors that roll up into these results. So the metrics are going to be a combination of leading, lagging and just behavior slash activities. Yeah. And so what you're doing is when you when Aaron areas off the KPIs, you dig into the metrics and find out, okay, which of these metrics are off? Again, we're not accountable to the metrics, but they are tools. And so when you find a metric, or two or three that are off and that you can see are contributing to the lack of performance in the KPI. That's your clue as to where you have to start digging in. And now you start this triage that we're going to talk about today. 
 
Joe  
Yeah, so the very first place, you're going to look so you've identified problems at a level, you now go look at the metrics, you figure out which of those metrics are not firing at the speed or the pace that you want them to. Now, the first thing you're going to look at is your platform. And the first question you're going to ask is, did something break in my platform? Okay, so this is assuming that you have already set everything up and you have had some decent flow of data. Now, the first thing you need to understand is did that flow break somehow. 
 
Frank  
Yeah, you were trying to validate the data here, right? Like, just make sure that what we're looking at is accurate. And so these questions help you come up with that answer, hopefully quickly, right? 
 
Joe  
So if the answer is yes, obviously, you just go fix it. And hopefully, that fixes it. It might not. And if it doesn't, you're gonna go back to the top of this and start the triage all over again. But that's your very first step, go fix what broke? But if the answer's no, nothing's broken, it looks like everything's working. Then the next question you're gonna ask is, has new data been introduced. And so new data can be introduced in a number of ways, it could be that you brought on a new system, and it wasn't integrated properly, right? It could be that you had everything hooked up properly. And there just was no data flowing in yet. And an example of that might be maybe you hooked up your net promoter score functionality, but you actually never sent one and a year and a half later, you finally get your stuff together, you send out an NPS survey, and data starts flowing in for the very first time, and it starts to look broken. Okay. So that is has new data been introduced? So if you ask that question, and the answer is, yes, it's been introduced. Now you got to go figure out how to integrate that, right? Yeah, exactly. But if the answer is no, no, nothing has been introduced, nothing's broken, nothing has been introduced, then the next thing you're going to do is move from platform on to your process, you're going to start auditing the process. So the first question there is, does process exist? 
 
Frank  
Yeah. Which is a silly question. But it's an important question. We talked about this in a past episode. And oftentimes, organizations think they have process, but they really don't. So we're asking that question does process exist? So oftentimes, we Yes, it does. And so we're going to go down that path. But if not, then, of course, what do you do, Joe? 
 
Joe  
Well, this actually reminds me you do in real life. This reminds me of an incident that we had on a boat. And we spent 30 minutes figuring out why, or trying to figure out why the boat, the motor wouldn't start kept pushing it kept looking at took apart the motor or started looking at what was wrong with it, only to find out that the equivalent of like a little safety switch had never been turned on. And so it seemed like everything was broken. But we didn't start at the top and say, are the obvious things in place? Did that switch get turned on. And so 30 minutes later, 40 minutes later, we finally were able to get the boat started, and there was nothing to fix. It was just that we didn't ask the right questions. So that was to your point. And it seems like a silly question. It's not, 
 
Frank  
It's why the computer support reps asked you to restart your computer. Always. 
 
Joe  
Did you turn it on? 
 
Frank  
Is it on? 
 
Joe  
Alright, so this process exists. So now we start getting into some real, some real branching. Obviously, if, if no process exists, well, you're going to move over to what we offer as what we call the implementation matrix. And that is a matrix that breaks down different processes that can solve for bottlenecks at every single lifecycle stage. And that's something that we do have available you can download. And if you want more information on it, of course, we can give that to you. But it is an implementation matrix of process. And you're going to go pick something from there to help put in place a process that doesn't otherwise exist, 
 
Frank  
by the way to get that implementation matrix we have buildingyourdigitalutopia.com. And then I believe in, we've got DJ over here, show notes, DJ, we have links and show notes. Yeah, DJs give me a head nod. So we also have links and show notes, right? So 
 
Joe  
Nope, there's a nuance here. Once you get into the implementation matrix, you might put in a process and you might say, Great, this is going to fix everything. But that's not really true. You're going to be running your your rev ops program in 90 day cycles. And so every day, 90 days, you're gonna want to do a deep dive and figure out did we put it in place properly wasn't really the right one. And you're going to kind of through trial and error optimize that over time. But you know that that's kind of a little nuanced process that happens there. But the main question was, does process exist? No, it does not go to the implementation matrix, pick a process to implement now, if it does exist, and if you're pretty sure that you have put the multiple processes in place, that should be unsticking this bottleneck. Now, your next question is going to be has it been what we said optimize but really hasn't been properly implemented? And it yeah, it hasn't been implemented the right way? 
 
Frank  
Yeah. I think there's some important questions there, right. There's like a sub checklist, if you will, where it's like, you know, does Does everyone have access to whatever system there might be? Do people know about it? Are there training materials documentation playbooks that exists to support this? You know, is it really fully implemented? Oftentimes, that's what happens in organizations, they have a process, and then it's not operationalized. And so maybe that's it, you know, we could think of it that way too. You know, has it been properly managed, implemented really, like what we're seeing is hasn't been operationalized? Yeah, because too many times organizations develop a process. They don't operationalize it, and then it just relies on people's memory rations, not a good, you know, approach 
 
Joe  
and to that point, you know, another line on that kind of checklist of was it done right is, is there anywhere that it can or should be automated, right, you can throw on some automation that to help people not forget what they're supposed to do or to help validate along the way, whether or not they did it properly, 
 
Frank  
I would suggest that that should be a hallmark of your process is to automate it as much as possible, not because you're trying to replace humans, but because we the humans have too many things to remember today, we have too much information flying at us. So we need the systems to catch things. So it's not relying on our memory or our separate to do lists. 
 
Joe  
Right, right. So that question was hasn't been implemented properly. There's a little checklist to go through there. But if you get to the checklist, and you say you won't, yes, it's been implemented properly, as far as we can tell. Now, you got to ask, okay, well, has it been optimized? It was implemented but wasn't optimized specifically for our, our business needs for our business? And maybe it's more of a question of can it be optimized? Is there anything we didn't think about before that could make this better? Now? If the answer is yes, it can be, then obviously, you're going to go figure out how to optimize that. And we don't have steps for you to do that. That's just you being smart, and getting in there and optimizing? If the answer's no, it cannot be optimized any further. We've already done that in an iterative, iterative way. Well, then now we're actually moving on to potentially a people problem. 
 
Frank  
Yeah. And so we talked about this in a previous episode. But the assumption that it's a people problem comes last in this process, because, again, more times than not the problems in organizations have to do with the platforms they have in place in the process they have in place or lack thereof.
 
Joe  
As we move into, is it a people process problem, I mean, this is kind of really a manager's world. But as a red ops leader, it's important for you to help managers understand what the questions to ask are, because I think way too often we see, you know, we've we've been culprits of this as well, we just point straight to the people, we skip all this and we say, Ah, that person doesn't know what they're doing, or they've got a bad attitude, right. But there's actually so much more nuance to that. So, as a Reb, ops leader, again, if you are helping to triage where the problem is, you should ask these questions or help the managers of the people ask these questions. And the very first one that should be asked, Is everyone related to this problem? Are they all clear on their role and responsibilities? 
 
Frank  
Yeah. Do they know what's expected of them? Is that clear? And if not, you know, get aligned. Right? Just get aligned, like, make sure that's really clear, 
 
Joe  
right? So there's a yes or no to this, right? Is everyone related to the problem? Are they clear on the role responsibilities? No, they're not well, go align them. That's, that's easy. That's the manager's job. That's the trainer's job, whatever, you can go figure out how to align them. If they are aligned. And if you're sure about that, then the next question is, okay, well, do they get it? Do they understand the why behind this? And, obviously, if the answer's no, they don't get it, then the, the solution to that is go train them. 
 
Frank  
Yeah, they need training, then they don't get it. So they need training, they need to understand the job. 
 
Joe  
Mm hmm. Now, if they do get it, so now, now that you know that they're clear on their role, you know that they get it. Next question to ask is, do they want it? And I think this is a really good question. Because, Frank, you had brought up some good examples earlier, of what does it mean to want it? 
 
Frank  
Yeah, that means their hearts in it, that they're, they're driven. They, they love the job, they want to excel in the job. And I think what's interesting about this question is, you can have employees, you can have team members that just don't ever really want it. And in that case, maybe they're just in the wrong seat. Or maybe they're just not a great fit for your organization. But I think you can also have really great employees, really great team members go through periods where they don't check off the one at box, because maybe they're dealing with something personal, let's say someone's mother died. I mean, you know, if my mom passed, like, there would be a period of time where I probably really don't want this job. Right. And so when I say not wanting, I mean, just in the way I'm able to dedicate myself to the job, I wouldn't look like I really want it and that's okay. And so those are the questions you asked like, hey, do they want it? You know, do they want it just because they're, you know, from where they're at? And where their heart and their spirit is in the job? Or are they dealing with something? And so yeah, this is the new ones to management? And you have to answer that question. And if it comes about that, they don't want it just because they don't want it. Well, you got to move them out either into a different role, or they need to move out of your organization. 
 
Joe  
But I would say they might actually be a valuable asset, just not in this season, not for this month, this quarter correct this year. And if that's the case, don't toss them up if you need to move them or if you need to suspend them or if you need to help them through that, do it and know that that's an investment you're making. Because when you bring them back where they're going to want it, 
 
Frank  
yeah, and you know, aside from a grievous things against the the team, I think the humane thing to do is always help people get where they need to go, even if that means it's outside of your organization help them get somewhere better for them. Again, barring things that are egregious, you know, someone does something that's just, you know, terrible and, and awful, then they just got to go and you know, you give them their check and say bye, right? But barring that, like, you know, help you truly help them that's either somewhere else in your organization or somewhere else at a different organization, if that's the case, help them get there. 
 
Joe  
So the question was, do they want it? If the answer is no, they don't want it, then move them? or suspend them or whatever. But if the answer is yes, they do actually want this, right. There's nothing stopping them from wanting this. Now you're gonna move on to Okay, well, do they actually have the capacity to do what we're asking them to do? 
 
Frank  
Yeah, so like, in any given job, this has to do with the, let's call it the muscles of the skill set. Right. So like, I'll give you a great example, like, I get basketball. And maybe I really want to be a professional NBA player, right? Like I could get it I get the game. I know the nuance, I know the triangle offense, one at all. Man, I would love to, you know, be a professional NBA athlete. That's amazing. I do not I'm five foot eight and a half on a good day. And and I do not have the capacity to be a professional NBA athlete. That's what we're talking about. So does the person have the capacity to be you know, to excel in this role? So in certain jobs, that's physical, and in many jobs that we talk about? It's mental, right? It's what is the intellectual capacity of this person, person for this role? And so that's really important to understand. 
 
Joe  
Yeah. And that could be personality, that could be whatever, maybe they are people facing role and they're not people, people. Maybe they aren't analytical role, and they just don't think that way. And so that's the capacity from a b2b side, you got to start looking at those things. Now. If the answer is no, they don't have the capacity, then you really have no choice but to move them, maybe not move them out of your company, but move them to a role where it's clear that they do have the capacity. And you can assess this many different ways with, you know, personality tests, or, you know, actually, that's the only I don't know, there's ways to assess whether or not they have the capacity. But if the answer is yes, they have the capacity to do it. This is where it gets kind of interesting. Because the next step Frank, you want to you want to go with 
 
Frank  
Yeah, yeah. So ultimately, I think 95 plus percent of the time, I'm making up that number, just to illustrate the point. But 95 plus percent of the time, if you get to the Yes, part, they have the capacity, you've probably missed something. Because if somebody gets it, and they want it, they have the capacity to do it. And you have all the systems you have the process, but it's still not happening. That doesn't make sense. So you have to kind of go back through the triage and figure out where you've missed something. And if it's truly that, then you probably have a more nuanced management issue to dive into with this person. But I would suggest and that goes back up to the, to the one set, and where you really have to dig in, like, are they just in a season right now where maybe they're dealing with something tough? And so I think, more times than not, you don't end up on the final Yes, branch of this. If you do you know, the, the answer is go back and check. Go through triage again, because you've missed something. 
 
Joe  
Yeah. And so just to recap the triage, you have a bottleneck, you identify what level the bottleneck is that you look at the metrics for that once you look at the metrics, you go to the platform and see, you know, the platform set up properly to deliver the right metrics to us if the answer is yes, you moving on to a process, if the process is in place, and it's been optimized, and you're pretty sure there's nothing else you can do to aid the people. Now you move on to the people and you start asking Are they the right people? And you go through those questions? Yeah, just ask the people questions. And again, if you get to the very end and you still have a problem well then maybe look at yourself and figure out why can't you assess this properly? 
 
Frank  
Yeah, you got to go back through and re triage this Yeah, we are up on time but if you want a copy of this as well as some of the other assets we talked about today, go to buildingyourdigitalutopia.com check out the podcast episodes, look at the show notes for this episode, we'll have links available for you to download the the assets that we talked about, and I think we're gonna try to get this flow chart digitized. Is that too much of a commitment? 
 
Joe  
We're doing it 
 
Frank  
We're gonna get this flowchart that we talked you through today, digitize and give you access to this, folks, thanks for joining us. We'll see you on episode 38. Next time here on the digital utopia podcast.
 
 
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