Most businesses seek ways to enhance their go-to-market (GTM) performance strategies for short-term and long-term success. Integrating web-based applications into the GTM strategy is at the core of these efforts. However, building and maintaining a web presence for your organization can be daunting. First, companies must identify their target audiences, create value propositions, and then start marketing and selling. Most of the time, the process is futile without a professional website operations expert who can improve functionalities and automate processes.
Therefore, there is a need to work with qualified teams to support your business’s web presence. WebOps teams can help you keep your web-based applications functional, secure, and performant through their diverse skill sets. In this guide, we explore how you can evaluate companies that manage website operations. The objective is to provide you with a blueprint you can use when hiring WebOps teams.
What is WebOps?
WebOps, or web operations, is an IT systems management function that deals with Web-based applications and their supporting systems. Some key focus areas are maintenance, application, deployment, management, repair, and configuration.
It is vital to add that WebOps entails the design, build, test, and measure stages that enhance the functionality and stability of web applications. Website operations include all web entities that a consumer or business interacts with, including web pages, web technologies and platforms like WordPress, security updates, mobile applications, eCommerce functions, and more. It’s not just the website.
So, why has WebOps gained traction over the last few years?
There are various contributing factors to the popularity of WebOps. First, the process has helped save time and resources since dedicated WebOps platforms streamline processes, thus eliminating unnecessary tools. Secondly, teams can implement quick and automated updates while minimizing overall risk.
With the onset of WebOps platforms, teams can integrate DevOps best practices and functionalities regarding website development and content management systems.
Why Does WebOps Matter?
A website does not guarantee business success in the modern business landscape. However, there is value in implementing good website operations management practices. Working with a healthy website enables your organization to improve brand awareness and generate leads during marketing campaigns. Furthermore, outdated website content and functionalities create a low-quality customer experience and can slow down customer decision-making, leading to a decline in conversions.
Who Might Need a WebOps Team?
If your organization fits one of the following criteria, then it is time to consider working with a WebOps team:
Companies that are scaling quickly
WebOps enables your business to implement suitable functionalities that can enhance customer interaction and boost brand awareness in the market. When you’re in a growth phase, either at a startup or within an R&D or new business unit of an established corporation, you likely need more skills than you can conceivably hire for in a single headcount.
For example, one of our clients turned to us after attempting to hire an FTE FullStack developer. What they found working with us is that not only did we help them with their engineering needs, but were able to flex into other areas of their business, such as data analytics strategy, design and user experience, and product management. These types of web services wouldn’t have been available with a single developer.
Teams that need to shift focus but keep things running smoothly
As previously stated, web operations comprise all web entities that a consumer or business interacts with, including mobile applications. When you have a small team, it might be difficult to undertake all operations seamlessly.
WebOps teams can help you manage your website as you work on other essential business operations. For example, we often work with clients who are experienced with marketing or growth strategy or specialize as designers, where we are able to fill in the gaps between engineering and product teams to deliver a complete solution.
Some of our clients have headcount freezes in effect but still need to get the work done. Even if they could hire one person, they need someone who can understand marketing strategy and turn that into a product solution inclusive of engineering scope and development.
We save our clients a lot of time and money by helping them to correctly scope the work that they’d otherwise need to translate to an engineer, all without needing to be a tech guru.
Organizations with needs beyond their developers’ skill levels
Lastly, if your business lacks the necessary personnel to manage your web-based operations, it is time to outsource these services to WebOps professionals.
If it’s not a headcount freeze, it might be that the internal resources are geared towards core product strategy. Some of our clients have fully developed product and engineering teams, so why do they work with us? It’s considered important for the internal teams to focus on core products and introduce new features or upgrades.
Web-based products are often seen as a function of marketing but need the support of a full web operations team the same as any software product might. Working with an agency like SWARM allows our clients to keep precious internal resources focused and streamlined while getting the web products out the door on time and within budget.
What Types of Services Can a WebOps Team Cover?
The following are the primary duties that website operations personnel can undertake for you:
Risk management: WebOps is responsible for maintenance, application, deployment, management, repair, and configuration. These tasks enhance website safety and functionality, enabling you to minimize business and security risks effectively.
Feature release planning, development, and deployment: When your business is looking to introduce a new product, service, or platform, a DevOps team will manage the process for you, leaving you to focus on other operations. This scenario boosts collaboration, innovation, and communication.
Redesigning, rebuilding, or re-platforming projects: Sometimes, your business’s projects might not go as planned. WebOps providers can refocus your work by looking at the weaknesses and then implementing a better version of your project.
Automating complex everyday tasks: Companies can also automate their WebOps workflows to ease decision-making. This function helps save time and resources in the long run.
Security and server optimization: WebOps teams can make your web-based applications faster and more secure. Such an organization can protect site infrastructure from hackers and software glitches. The server speed is also improved when WebOps teams scale for traffic spikes and surges.
What to Look For
So, how can you identify which WebOps team is suitable for your business? We have put together some key considerations to ease the process for you.
1. Individual vs. Team/Agency
The first consideration is whether to go for an individual web operations manager or an agency. While hiring one person is more accessible for organizations with budget constraints, the risk is ultimately the highest with this approach. If your contact is suddenly unavailable, everything comes to a screeching halt. We have witnessed several situations where an independent contractor has either taken on more work than he can deliver or walked completely from the job in favor of better employment.
On the other hand, while it may seem like a bigger commitment at first, a WebOps agency provides much more reliability than an independent contractor. Additionally, more experts are available to divide responsibilities, so they will likely be able to handle the workload. This is especially important when you need or plan to scale your operations activity.
2. Demonstrable Process
It’s preferable to look for partnerships with companies that have a proven track record and who can demonstrate how they go about their operations. This means a standard process for review and releases so that your team knows how to implement changes and on what timeframe.
It may feel like you need to focus your external resources on specific project scopes, but the reality is for web products, the features and market are always changing and you need to remain flexible in your WebOps approach.
This demands a solid problem -> solution -> delivery -> test methodology that allows you to quickly adapt to market fluctuations and solid data reporting that gives you business intelligence. There should always be a feedback loop between user behavior, feature release, and business growth.
Ask potential WebOps partners to show you how they have worked with past clients and look for agencies that have iterative processes in place to deliver successful outcomes, vs. simply ‘taking orders’.
3. Lean Workflow Processes
When selecting a team, ask whether they work in agile or scrum. While agile development sees to it that all tasks are delivered at the end of the project, the scrum technique breaks everything down into sprints and smaller deliverables.
When clients work with agencies, they often come in with a “project mindset.” They are only thinking as far as getting specific deliverables met in a specific timeframe. If you don’t live and breathe product, what can be easy to miss is the need for ongoing product improvements. Sometimes this is as simple as bug fixes, but good teams will work closely with yours on continuous product improvement based on user insights and business goals.
To achieve rapid iteration, it helps to work on cycles often called work sprints which allow you to bucket specific business goals into changes in your web product on a weekly or monthly basis. At SWARM, we use two-week sprint cycles, after which we send reports on the progress these feed into monthly and quarterly goals that we set in a collaborative way with our clients.
Having an iterative process allows you to go from the macro to the micro and see how every step you take translates into impact for your business through the improvement of your web product.
4. Transparency & Accountability
Look for a team that is open to criticism and whose team members own up to their actions. For example, ask what happens when objectives are not realized or when team members make operational mistakes. The key is going for a professional team that will deliver regardless of the circumstances and who will be open about communicating their process with you.
Consider the following:
Look for WebOps teams that are open about their vision and strategy, then go for the one that best aligns with your business growth needs.
What will communication look like with this new team? Do their main modes of communication between your business and the team work for you? How often will they provide updates?
How upfront are they about their work? Are they telling you what you need to hear or just what you want to hear? One way to evaluate this before working with them is to look at case studies and reviews. Can they show measurable outcomes for their clients’ projects, or is it all just talk?
5. Breadth of Expertise
One of the most crucial questions to consider is whether they have the skills needed for your tech stack. Work with WebOps teams that have significant and relevant working experiences. Look into their past projects and other clients they have worked with. Would your company be the first one of its kind to work with them? If so, you’ll want to seek out a more experienced team.
It’s also worthwhile to choose a team that is capable of offering more profound expertise when the need arises. If they don’t have all the expertise needed for a project, it’s good to know that they can reach out to experts who can fill other roles, such as UX designers or researchers. A team that knows its limits and has the sense to bring in expertise as needed is invaluable.
6. Ready to Take Your Business to the Next Level
If your goal is to grow, it’s important to seek a WebOps company that can grow with you. Will they be able to scale to your growing needs in the future? You’re looking for a team that will help you level up. For example, does it seem like their abilities will be limited to only focusing on periodic updates, or can they also work on new product releases? This is another time when referring to their past projects is helpful. Have they been with other organizations as they’ve grown, or did they stay stagnant?
Good Teams Are Worth Their Weight in Gold
At the end of the day, the priority is getting value for your money. Make sure you get what you pay for since WebOps is a long-term business investment. Rather than maintaining the status quo, it is vital that you challenge yourself and go for a WebOps team that will push you to greater heights and ease the web operations burden for your organization.
Work With SWARM
If you are looking for an ideal organization to help you in your web operations, you can contact SWARM. We have an extensive history of building and maintaining enterprise-level applications. Our company also works with the world’s top brands and venture firms to identify, define, design, and grow market-leading digital products.