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4-min read
February 3, 2022

Why Your Team Needs a Community Operations Manager — and How to Motivate for One

'Community operations' is already a buzz term in the community space, and the need for Community teams to fill this role has never been greater.

With all that community operations has to offer communities and Community teams — it’s not hard to see why.

The Community Operation Manager handles things behind the scenes, allowing Community Managers to focus on their core function — managing the community. By working to make sure all of the gears are the right size, oiled, screwed in correctly, and connected to the right circuits, community operations allows CMs to drive the car and make sure it stays on the road.

Why a Community Operations Manager?

As I often explain in my restaurant analogy, if your community is a restaurant, the Community Operations Manager would be the general manager who makes sure customers are happy and everything is going as it should. The role encompasses bits and pieces of program and project management, product management, data analysis, process and operations management, and of course, community management.

Community ops is the string that binds everything together, and it requires someone who is well-balanced — able to be in the weeds with astute attention to detail, but also able to zoom out to see the wider picture and long-term impacts.

How community operations can grow your community

Here’s a peek at the roles and responsibilities a Community Operations Manager would take on and what problems they would identify and solve.

Program management: Managing program timelines, action items, and owners, bringing together stakeholders and owners for various line items. Program management may involve making sure community members know what steps they need to follow to participate in a program.

Tech stack: Overall tech stack management, tools, resources, and integrations. This will most likely also include scoping out, assessing, and implementing new tech platforms based on the community team’s needs.

Liaising with developers: Working regularly with a development resource to build out and enhance various platforms.

Documentation: Ensuring the internal knowledge base is updated for Community Managers to reference when helping members. Externally, this also involves making sure community members also have access to a knowledge base with regularly updated help articles.

Process efficiency: Finding bottlenecks in existing processes and figuring out ways to make those processes more efficient. This includes developing strategies for community programs to scale as the community continues to grow, as well as automation. The latter is one of community ops’ most important functions — helping Community teams automate repetitive and ‘mindless’ tasks without losing the personal touch and rapport building.

In a nutshell: community operations can improve processes, programs, reporting, running the business, and everything else the Community team needs.

a graphic that explains all the work of a community ops professional, including process, programs and tech stack.

Quantifying why you need a Community Operations Manager

So how do you convince leadership that you need to hire (or be hired) for a community operations role? Processes are often the best place to start — as touched on above, they’re a huge component and opportunity area to highlight community operations’ true value.

Good news: it's easy to create a quantitative measure of improved processes that a community ops pro could implement.

  1. Write down all of the processes or tasks that you/your team do repeatedly and count how many times per week this process is repeated across the team. (e.g. We review 100 leader applications a week).
  2. Time how long it takes to complete that process once. (e.g. It takes an average of 13 minutes to review one application).
  3. Calculate cumulatively how much time it takes for your team to complete this process in a week. (e.g. It takes 100 applications x 13 minutes each = 1300 minutes a week = 21.7 hours a week to review all of the applications).
  4. If you have the hourly rate of the people who are doing this process, calculate how much real money the above point calculates to.
  5. Do this for all repetitive processes/tasks.

From here, you have a good baseline metric. You know at the current state and size of your community, how much time (and money) it takes your team to get through all these tasks. Now you can make clear how much time and money could be saved by operations work.

This process can also help you pinpoint potential areas to optimize (whether that’s opening up bottlenecks, reducing the number of steps the process takes, making the flow easier, or even automating all or part of it). After you make the changes, repeat the calculations above and compare your results to measure success.

This article is an extract from Community Operations, a self-paced course by C School — and it’s just the tip of the iceberg. In it, students can expect to learn how to get started in community operations, road mapping tips and tricks, how to manage a tech stack, and so much more.  Head over here for more info on C School’s self-paced offerings.

Tiffany Oda
February 3, 2022

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