“For the want of a nail, the shoe was lost,
For the want of a shoe, the horse was lost,
For the want of a horse, the rider was lost,
For the want of a rider, the battle was lost,
For the want of a battle, the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a horseshoe-nail.”

– Benjamin Franklin

Revenue Operations, as a function, is a wearer of many hats. RevOps is responsible for setting out processes and ensuring adherence. It’s responsible for identifying opportunities to grow revenue, while still cleaning out the necessary inefficiencies that come with growth.

But above all – at its core revops owns the order-to-revenue workflow. And there nothing that kills their entire todo list (and dreams of strategic thinking)  like having to fix a break in the workflow.

Why? Because in SaaS, the tiniest leak in your revenue workflow can create massive ripple effects resulting in significant dollars and customers lost.

One SaaS business that I was speaking to recently told me a story that should clearly be remade as a Halloween Horror Movie for every RevOps hero.

This particular business had started in the UK a few years ago, and been growing their presence aggressively across the globe. Through this growth phase, they’d been adding layers on their workflows to accommodate the new complexities. Like integrating their in-house subscription billing solution with different payment providers for each region.

And everything was working fine and global sales was steadily growing. There were a few unhappy customers and a couple of poor G2Crowd reviews like any normal business. The only mistake they did was – their subscription billing solution

One fine day, they discovered that the payment processing in one of the regions was broken for the past 3 months. The failure didn’t get marked accurately in their subscription platform and it slipped any unsuspecting eye. And since payment wasn’t going through, most of these customers just walked away.

The business estimated over 6 figure losses from existing customers alone.

When workflows break or inhibit you, the first instinct is to patch it up with a half-decent workaround that gives you the desired end result. But with each new workaround, the number of use-cases you need to test keep multiplying. Maintaining the workflow and process sanity of when it’s riddled with a jillion workarounds is difficult. You fix a revenue leak and that tears two new leaks.

So, what should you do when your workflow breaks, or so much as cracks in a place or two?

ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) has the perfect solution for this. It lies in the concept of and differences between Problem Management and Incident Management.

To put it roughly, Incident Management is fire-fighting. The goal here is to get the system back to a stable condition. Once you do that, you focus on finding out the root cause(s). When you figure out the underlying cause and fix it to avoid any similar incidents, that is problem management.

Problem Management seeks to minimize the adverse impact of Incidents by preventing Incidents from happening. For Incidents that have already occurred, Problem Management tries to prevent these incidents from happening again.

To fix a leaky revenue workflow, we don’t have to follow a boring user manual which ultimately tells you to call a toll-free hotline number that leaves you on hold for 43mins before asking you to turn it off and back on again.

When there’s a leak in your process and all your leads are slipping into the deep dark abyss of your intertwined, spaghetti-ed up workflows, you need to do 3 things.

  1. Deal with the incident.
    Identify the incident, investigate it, attribute it to a problem, remediate, and report.In the above example, Incident Management would be figuring out which customers and prospects were lost due to this error and reach out to them with your customer success and sales teams.The goal at this point would be to try and mitigate whatever of the damage caused.
  2. Use that data for problem management.The data collected during Incident resolution should be used for Problem identification. Identify the root-causes and work towards preventing similar incidents from happening again.In the example, Problem Management would be getting a robust subscription management software that integrates with multiple payment gateways.
  3. Untangle your workflows and processes.I know this is easier said than done. But when incidents and problems keep cropping up, the best thing to do would be an overhaul of your workflows and processes. A starting point for this would be charting out your existing workflow for each process, ex: what happens when a lead signs up for your product vs. fills out a demo request?There’s no problem that can go unsolved with a flexible workflow in place. Check out the whitepaper we published recently for more on The Ideal RevOps Workflow. So, what are you going to do when your workflow breaks?