How to Build Systems, Platforms, and Processes for Scale
Building infrastructure (systems, platforms, and processes) that scale is a major challenge for high-growth companies. Infrastructure at organizations almost always reflects what the need was six to twelve months ago. This is a major problem because organizations without scalable infrastructure often hit a revenue plateau.
Even well funded, fast-growing companies are prone to this issue, because often employee time is a scarce resource and with growth comes turnover. Projects and platforms have new owners, succession plans aren’t laid out and gaps evolve.
As a result, fast-growing organizations seldom have the infrastructure required for the next event in their lifecycle. Whether that is closing a major round, an IPO, or an acquisition; all these events require a significant level-up in revenue operations infrastructure.
In this post, we discuss how to build systems, platforms, and processes that scale.
The Importance of Infrastructure that Scales
Before we dive into best practices, let’s talk about how not having scalable infrastructure can stall revenue. Scalable infrastructure allows revenue leaders to predict where pipeline is failing proactively. As an example, leadership may need to make investments to address weak areas in Q2 instead of finding out in Q3 that Sales did not hit their number. As an organization grows in complexity, new territories and verticals are established.
Timeliness and fidelity are key to Sales and Marketing being able to support the revenue-generating areas of the organization.
We interviewed Lauren Vaccarello on this topic and the attribution model that Salesforce and other leading organizations use; the Four Horsemen Model. The Four Horsemen is a model of attribution that keeps all of the go-to-market (GTM) organization on the hook for Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) pipeline contribution – click here to read more.
For example, if pipeline is low in EMEA but Channel is going to exceed their number, how do the GTM leaders work together and reallocate resources to reach the overall ARR goals of the organization? In the absence of having timely insights, it is impossible to answer this question and many other crucial marketing and sales questions before they have revenue impacting consequences.
Here are seven best practices to follow to build scalable systems, platforms, and processes:
1) Build systems around where your organization is forecasted to be in 18 – 24 months
Systems are most often deployed and integrated in a way that reflects the size the organization was at the time of purchase (and maybe six months out). Organizations should be looking 18 – 24 months ahead when building systems and configuring platforms, as to allow for enough runway to upgrade infrastructure when issues arise.
2) Treat every platform as a strategic asset, not a point solution
Organizations tend to preserve how a tool was utilized at the time it was deployed. Enterprise-grade platforms should be approached as strategic assets. In many cases, deployment is often done by an external organization that is focused on solving short term pain and a successful, one-time launch. Less often are vendors engaged to stick around to advise on strategic improvements afterwards. Ensure that a plan exists for how iteration and improvements will be made to platforms on a bi-weekly, monthly or quarterly basis depending on the needs of your organization.
In addition, existing teams are sometimes spread too thin to leverage the capabilities that best in class platforms hold. Consider this before purchasing a new platform.
3) Build an integrated ecosystem of platforms and solutions
Insights that drive renewal, cross-sell, and up-sell revenue are extremely important for every growing B2B SaaS company. Your Customer Success and Sales teams need actionable data on client behavior and product usage to drive that revenue. To enable this, it takes a heavily integrated tech stack.
4) Leverage automation wherever possible
The level of intervention required for each process grows over time. Build processes and systems for 18 months from now, not today. If process X took one hour a week when it was built, that means that in three months it may take someone six hours a week, and in a year it could be someone’s full-time job. In order to avoid revenue plateau, decreasing the time team members spend creating reports and performing repetitive processes is key. Your teams should instead be focused on improving performance.
5) Avoid systems and processes that have a high Long Term Cost of Ownership (LTCO)
Organizations often build systems that have an invisible, but high LTCO. A common Salesforce example of this is legacy customization that means newly released platform features cannot be adopted. Often solutions are built quickly to solve a pain point without considering the cost of annual maintenance. It’s decisions like these that eat up team resources and stall new and important projects due to a lack of capacity. Before implementing a solution, always consider the long term cost of ownership.
6) Build systems and processes that do not rely on human intervention
As an organization scales, turnover tends to increase. Employees begin to graduate out, earlier stage team members move back to working for smaller organizations, and other team members are poached. As employees leave, they leave residue in systems; old processes, workflow, fields, etc accumulate like plaque over time. Which is why systems/processes need to become less dependent on single humans, with more failsafes. New employees are often not aware of what exists and when human intervention is required nor do they have time to investigate. This plus a lack of documentation leads to processes breaking over time.
7) Reduce friction whenever possible
Decreasing friction is a big principle of building systems that scale. Reporting and analysis should not be difficult. Building systems and customizing platforms so reporting is done easily, at a high frequency, and in a self-serve manner by non-technical team members is essential. To do this, often a data warehouse with a data visualization platform like Tableau or Google Data Studio layered on top is necessary to create dashboards where revenue-generating teams can access insights easily. More simplistically, ensure that each team that contributes to revenue has access to reports that are self-serve.
Hopefully, this article provided you with actionable insights and a benchmark for how your organization’s current platforms, systems, and processes should be designed. As always, if you have any questions about this article or how to build scalable infrastructure, drop us a line today.
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Our first-hand experience helping organizations build systems, platforms, and processes for scale has given the CloudKettle team great insight into what works and what doesn’t when building Rev Ops infrastructure. Speak with a consultant today to discuss how your organization’s Rev Ops infrastructure compares with best practices.