Why the mid-office is key to scaling high-growth technology companies

Missed a session at the Data Summit? View here on demand.

This article was contributed by Ed King, founder and CEO of Openprise.

We are all familiar with the concept of the front office and back office. The front office typically consists of customer-facing functions such as sales, marketing, and customer success, while the back office consists of human resources, legal, and finance.

The mid-office is an established concept in the financial services industry and consists of operational teams dealing with risk management and the IT needs of the front office. With the explosion of software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, high-growth venture-backed technology companies have created their version of the mid-office.

I’ve found that the companies that scale successfully often have a high-performing mid-office, so it’s worth understanding how it works. This article explores what makes a successful mid-market office for a fast-growing technology company.

The many faces of the middle office

The version of the middle office in the technology industry had humble beginnings as marketing activities and sales activities. Marketing activities started with the adoption of SaaS marketing automation platforms such as Marketo and Eloqua, while sales activities started as system support for SaaS CRMs such as Salesforce. Both ops teams came into existence as a result of early SaaS adopters.

SaaS made it possible for any industry to acquire, deploy and run its own technology stack. These operations teams support the front office with people, processes, data and the technology needed for go-to-market needs. In recent years, these ops teams have become more sophisticated and now do data management, process automation, integration, and analytics.

The adoption of middle office capabilities has expanded to other departments, and we are starting to see the emergence of customer ops, people ops, and finance ops. Its pioneering marketing and sales operations are now being transformed into a more integrated unit known as the Revenue Ops or RevOps team responsible for delivering visibility and improving efficiency in the revenue process, driving predictability of revenue and ultimately achieving revenue growth. When you consider that sales generate revenue and finance is revenue recognition, RevOps is revenue enabling. This team is the face of the technology industry’s middle office.

Why do you need a middle desk?

Those unfamiliar with ops teams — including RevOps teams — may question the need for a mid-office. That’s what IT is for, right? While the mid-office is increasingly fulfilling IT-like functions and actively adopting best practices, such as setting up a Project Management Office (PMO), the reason we need it is because it fulfills a business need that has proven to be challenging. is for IT to deliver effectively.

Process execution

Keeping the front office’s go-to-market machinery running requires many processes to be performed on a daily basis, including but not limited to:

Add new leads to the CRM.Routing leads to the right salesperson.Handling channel deal registrations.Intake of channel sales data.Manage orders. Processing personnel changes of the sales team.

These processes combine automation and manual tasks and often require human decision-making. Most importantly, when these processes stop working, the business stops generating revenue. Increasingly, it’s the mid-office RevOps team that owns these processes and retains the responsibility to “keep the lights on.”

Go-to-market support

The front office of a high-growth technology company is a messy and fast-paced environment where go-to-market strategy and execution can change up to three times per quarter. To deal with this, the best marketing and sales teams adopt an agile execution mindset, embracing experimentation and learning from failure, quickly validating ideas and exploring opportunities before the competition arrives first.

The mid-office also needs to quickly build processes, data, and technology from highly uncertain inputs, and then flexibly replicate them with the business users. In this context, the only constant is change, and from my experience you usually only have 20% of the input you need to execute.

Use data to provide insight

Every go-to-market team wants to have an edge over their competition. Today, that means using data to gain insights. For example, they can use attribution analysis to understand which marketing campaigns and sales are delivering the best results, or score accounts and contacts to ensure the sales team is investing in the buyers most likely to convert, or determine the buyer’s travel patterns that drive a tire kicker. feeding in a booster hand.

Today, the front office is inundated with multiple new data sources and technologies that can give a business an unfair advantage, while on the other hand, it can waste valuable resources and sometimes cause analysis paralysis.

The best middle office teams use data and technology effectively to deliver high value to their go-to-market teams.

Critical capabilities for the mid-office

Given the charter and challenges of the mid-office, it has to operate very differently from IT. However, it must work with IT to get the infrastructure support it needs, while protecting IT from the day-to-day business fluctuations and uncertainties for which it was not designed. A world-class mid-office team must have the following organizational capabilities.

An agile mentality

IT takes three to six months to complete a project, and each change goes through a change management process that can further extend the time to a workable solution. In order for the business to be effective, the mid-office must operate at 10x that speed.

It should apply the agile development methodology that product teams have long embraced, to quickly develop a minimum viable product (MVP) or prototypes so that the go-to-market team can test and provide feedback to accelerate development of the next iteration of the solution.

While it’s essential to build for the future and nobody wants to throw their work away, the fact is, many of the initiatives that the middle office must support are transient. Even for long-term projects, the original design and ideas often have significant gaps, so plan to deliver a solution that works today, while building for the future, and be ready to adapt.

Ability to build safely and securely

It’s hard to be agile when the only options available for the mid-office are patching point solutions or custom coding. Both options are too rigid and fragile to keep up with the changes in a fast-growing company. Although, yes, you can code anything, custom code is difficult to maintain and modify.

The optimal technology platform provides a kind of “innovation sandbox” to the mid-office so that they can build not only quickly, but also securely, and without disrupting the shared data and infrastructure, or risking ruining the registration system, while they also meet all security and compliance mandates.

No code and low code

To enable agility, the mid-office needs no-code and low-code platforms that make it easy to quickly build and iterate solutions and turn ideas into execution. Mid-office team members are usually tech savvy but are not programmers, so they need easy-to-use technologies that provide extensive flexibility.

Create scale with automation and self-service

In addition to the ability to act quickly and keep up with the business, the mid-office needs to build scale into the business, which means three things:

Automation: Automation is essential for a business to achieve scale. Automation can add speed, efficiency and repeatability to most go-to-market processes. And as more companies expand their mid-market offices, this will make an already tight job market even tighter. To get the most out of your team members and keep job satisfaction high, you need to automate repetitive work that doesn’t require human input.
Self-service: Automation is hot and people like to talk about it, but you can never completely eliminate people from most business processes. So if you focus solely on automation, you still can’t achieve scalability because the inefficiency of human tasks and interactions becomes the bottleneck. Enabling self-service is a critical part of achieving scalability as it helps to maximize the speed and efficiency of human tasks. Whether it’s enabling a field marketer to instantly load a list of leads scanned at a trade show, or enabling a salesperson to quickly build a list of invitees for a lunch and learning event, if the middle office can easily create self-service solutions, it can create scalability by democratizing secure and compliant access to data, relieve the operations team from gatekeeper duties, and improve the efficiency of business users.
Enable the masses: scalability isn’t just about speed and feed. It’s also about how many people within the organization can create and maintain the automation and self-service capabilities discussed above. If only three people in IT can do that, they become the bottleneck to achieve scalability. But if 30 people from the mid-office can create and maintain these automations and self-service solutions without an engineering degree, then we have achieved true organizational scalability.

The way forward

The middle office may not be a sexy idea, but most of the essentials in life are not. The people, processes and technology that enable us to move efficiently through our daily lives are often transparent to us, especially when executed properly. SaaS has created a fundamental gap between the company’s need to act quickly, be agile and respond to uncertainty versus what the IT team can provide. The mid-office is a critical team bridging this gap and empowering a fast-growing company to execute on its ever-changing go-to-market strategy. As technology and data continue to evolve faster than ever, no company can stay competitive and achieve scalable go-to-market without building a world-class mid-office.

Ed King is founder and CEO of Openprise.

DataDecision makers

Welcome to the VentureBeat Community!

DataDecisionMakers is where experts, including the technical people who do data work, can share data-related insights and innovation.

If you want to read about the very latest ideas and up-to-date information, best practices and the future of data and data technology, join us at DataDecisionMakers.

You might even consider contributing an article yourself!

Read more from DataDecisionMakers

This post Why the mid-office is key to scaling high-growth technology companies

was original published at “https://venturebeat.com/2022/03/13/why-the-middle-office-is-key-to-scaling-high-growth-technology-companies/”