A Simple Framework for Operational Planning

There is a side to Customer Success that we often don’t speak about. Operations. For anyone who knows me, it will be no surprise when I say I love operationalizing things. I have the kind of brain that thinks about how to operationalize the art of operations (yes, I said art). For those who think like me naturally, you already know that what is a blessing, can also be a curse and with all good things you must have balance.

I have created a simple framework to make sure I never lean too heavily on the process side and stay focused on all components when I am planning. I refer to this as my “Team, Business, Customer Pie”. As with any pie, you have to have certain ingredients for the recipe to be successful and turn into a culinary masterpiece. The same is true when you build out your operations, your ingredients must have an equal part team, business and customer focus or you risk missing a major component, or even worse, having an overall negative impact.

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The Framework

When planning, creating process, or thinking through strategy, go over each of these three key ingredients to make sure you are in fact creating a well-balanced (and edible) pie. Below is a simple framework that’s especially helpful when in creation mode. Using it will allow you to proactively think through every scenario a new process could impact.

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Probably one of the most important ingredients in any strong operation is the team. Without the team, you will not be able to operate. It’s important when you are creating, planning, or strategizing, you ask yourself the following questions:

  • How will this impact the team morale?
  • How will this provide growth or opportunities?
  • How will this set the team up for long-term success?
  • How will this impact the team overall?

Each of these questions doesn’t apply to every scenario, but you should always be checking to see how operations are impacting your team.


It’s not always about the bottom line, but, if we want to continue to support our customers, grow our teams, and keep the lights on, we have to think about the business. Without the revenue that you generate from the business side of things, none of this is possible. A few questions to ask yourself when looking at the business side of things are:

  • Will this process have an immediate positive impact on the business?
  • How could this negatively impact the business? Revenue?
  • How could this potentially impact churn, upsells/expansion, or renewals?
  • What’s the long term impact?

Always asking yourself and those around you these questions will certainly help bubble up any potential blind spots.


Customers, the reason why we are all here. Every day we are making decisions that directly and indirectly impact our customer base. A few things to think through when making these decisions are:

  • How will this impact our current customer base?
  • Does this fit with our overall customer strategy (example: moving upmarket)?
  • What will this do to the customer experience?
  • Will this improve the overall value our customers are achieving?
  • How do our competitors handle similar processes or strategies? And what is the customer sentiment towards it?

There are many more questions that you could add to this list, but the idea is to put your customer hat on and see things from their perspective. It is rare for an operational change not to have a direct or indirect impact on your customers. It’s important to be deliberate when planning to make sure that you are capturing what the impact could possibly be.

The Pulse Check

I will be the first to admit that it is almost impossible to make sure all things are equally balanced in your Team, Business, Customer Pie, and that’s where counter-measurements come in. If you make a decision to implement a process or operation that is heavily weighted towards the business side, be sure to pay closer attention to customer sentiment and team morale as you are spinning that out. On the other hand, if you implement something extremely customer focused, pay close attention to the business metrics such as churn, upsell, and renewals for any changes.

The benefit of this framework really comes from the facilitation of these conversations, thinking through each area that you could impact as you scale and evolve your operations. You’ll never be able to think through every perspective completely, but deliberately thinking through your Team, Business, Customer Pie, and how these changes can impact each area is a step in the right direction.