Back to basics: The terms of the operations industry

Written by Alicia Lozano

On April 19, 2022

Back to basics: The terms of the operations industry

There are so many different terms and phrases that get thrown about in the online space and this is especially true when you enter the operations bit!

It can all take a while to get familiar with and know the meanings of all of these terms, so I wanted to create a little cheatsheet with this blog and put them all in one place.

So next time you come across a term and you aren’t quite sure what it stands for, you can come back here!

Because let’s be real, you aren’t an operations expert. And that’s completely fine because you aren’t meant to be! 

When I’ve spoken to clients before, they’ve said they almost feel embarrassed when they don’t know something because they’ve been in business so long and it’s almost expected. 

But I’m here to say it’s okay if some terms are new to you. This isn’t your zone of genius- it’s mine! And In the same way, you wouldn’t expect me to understand absolutely everything about your industry (including the lingo) I wouldn’t expect you to know everything in mine.

So let’s start with some of the key phrases and terms in the operations world…

The essentials

First up, let’s talk about exactly what business operations are. 

Put simply, business operations are the activities a business undertakes every day to earn a profit and build the business. They are the things you do in your business to make it work! 

Then we have policy. 

Policies are the guidelines you have in place in your business. You can have several different policies based on different aspects of your business. For example, customer service policies, safety policies or employee policies. Ultimately, policies are put in place to help maintain a good work environment for everyone involved.

One term you will hear a lot around here (especially from me!) is process. So what exactly is a process? Well, essentially a process is a collection of tasks that are put together to create an end result. For example, all of the steps you take to provide a service to your clients. This would be a process. 

This process may be part of a workflow. Which is another word you’ll probably hear me use quite a bit! A workflow is triggered by a certain event and this initiates a sequence of other events. 

Apart from the first action that triggers it all, each step in the workflow will have something before and after it. The initial trigger is usually an outside event, like a client booking a discovery call. 

Finally, I want to talk about systems. As these are a very big part of my business! Now, I’m not talking about a computer/software system that you’d use on your laptop. I’m talking about business systems.

A system in your business is like an umbrella that captures a whole section of your business. For example, you could have a marketing system, a sales system, or a financial system. All of these systems are made up of many different layers, many of which we’ve just talked about. A system can be broken down into your processes, your workflows, and even your policies and guidelines. 

The acronyms 

Acronyms and shortened versions of words and terms are everywhere in the online business world! So I’ve put together a list of some of the most common acronyms and abbreviations that I regularly come across or use myself (to save you googling in the future!);

  • CRM- Customer Relationship Management
  • SOP – Standard Operating Procedure
  • OBM- Online Business Manager 
  • VA – Virtual Assistant (It’s not something to do with the military!)
  • DOO- Director of Operations
  • Biz-Ops/ BO – Business Operations (noting to do with having body odor!) 
  • PM – Project Management 
  • EM – Email Marketing 
  • Biz Hub – Business Hub 
  • TM- team member 
  • ROI – Return On Investment
  • KPI – Key Performance Indicators 
  • OKR – Objectives and Key Results 

I also wanted to take a second to talk about the difference between someone who is a business consultant versus a business integrator. 

Although I straddle both roles, typically speaking a consultant is someone who can help advise you on strategy and an integrator helps you to integrate these strategies into your business to help it run more efficiently and effectively! 

I hope you’ve found this blog useful! Don’t forget to save it so you can come back later for reference and share it with anyone else who might find it useful too!

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