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Priorities for COOs

The top 9 strategic priorities for Chief Operating Officers (COOs)

from  January 14, 2022 | 4 min read

What does a COO do when they already have far too much to do already? 

Today, Chief Operating Officers (COOs) do more than simply oversee specific departments. Instead, COO strategy is central to customer engagement, emerging technologies, business growth, business leadership, and business strategies.

Here are Unit4’s top 9 priorities for COOs:

  • Focus on people
  • Advances in automation
  • Believe in the cloud
  • Integrating software applications
  • Cyber security
  • Cultural change with a digital focus
  • Compliance and risk management
  • Identifying issues specific to professional services

Focusing on these 9 strategic priorities will help ensure that your business improves operations, embraces technology, and has the tools it needs for future growth.

AI, Chatbots and Other Innovations

As a COO, you need to know which technology is most beneficial to your operations.

AI, for example, has proven useful for:

  • Detecting fraud
  • Predicting consumer trends
  • Personalizing marketing
  • Automating data transfers and analysis

Another innovation, chatbots, can provide advantages to customers without adding to your people’s workloads. A well-made chatbot can answer basic questions, transfer customers to the correct department, and even help customers place orders.

By keeping a close eye on innovations, you can find exceptional benefits in technologies that lower costs and improve customer services.

Focus on People

Part of what chief operating officers do these days must be firmly focused on people, as well as processes. After all - your organization can only run smoothly if your people are happy, engaged, and productive.

People Experience is the concept that all systems should be built from the ground up with people at their center. This brings two distinct benefits.

First, systems that focus on people help free them to do more meaningful tasks. Giving them the time they need to help customers and innovate. They do this by removing all the mundane and unnecessary tasks that stand in their way.

Second, by enabling your employees to be more outward-facing, they’re able to focus on the needs of your customers, instead of simply working through tasks every day.

Advances in Automation

Other than this, what do COOs do to enhance people experience? Over the next few years, the answer to this question will be rooted firmly in automating the more routine and low value-added parts of essential workflows. Automation is about more than just removing repetitive tasks. Advances in task automation now make it easier for you to:

  • Create consistent results free from human error
  • Give your people meaningful and engaging experiences
  • Comply with industry standards

Recent advances in the use of AI for planning and management mean that you no longer need to waste time on mind-numbing tasks. You get better results and happier people with smart automations that complete those tasks quickly without mistakes.

Believe in the Cloud

Cloud-based technology is essential to realizing modern COO goals and objectives. It revolutionizes how you grow and improve customer services. Letting you benefit from:

  • Scaling up or down as your needs change
  • Automated backups that help you recover from disasters, including weather events and data breaches
  • SaaS integration that gives you access to the tools your business needs to succeed
  • Lower spend on technology by avoiding unnecessary hardware

A cloud ERP solution lets you access services and data from anywhere, managing a successful cloud migration will enable a greater level of control and visibility within your organisation.

Integrating Software Applications

ERP's growing importance for professional services, PSA software solutions, and independent software applications makes it critical for COOs to think about a strategy for how their organization’s software options can be integrated.

Ideally, your enterprise solution already integrates with the apps you use for data analysis, customer service, managing projects, and taking payments. So, if you need more flexibility, consider getting an ETL platform that standardizes your data formats and simplifies integrations.


Poor cybersecurity can be tremendously damaging. One survey showed that 65% of consumers lose trust in businesses after data breaches. That loss in confidence damages your reputation, undercutting your attempts at growth.

Security threats and the disruption they bring can come from a range of vulnerabilities. As COO, you can improve your cybersecurity by making sure:

  • Your people can only access the data they need for their job
  • You choose a cloud ERP with robust security features
  • Your people are trained to identify fraudulent emails and other types of social engineering
  • You update software frequently
  • IT have control over what your people access at work
  • Accounts have strong passwords

What is this protecting you from?

As ransomware becomes more sophisticated, you need to stay vigilant. As remote workers become the norm, Remote Desktop Protocol, spear-phishing, and other threats will become more significant problems. So you need to protect your systems from falling victim to criminals around the world.

Cultural Change with a Digital Focus

Workplace cultures have changed. Today, your people expect a digital focus that embraces the latest communication tools.

You can do this with:

  • Video conferencing platforms so team members can stay connected even when working remotely
  • Online chat, forums, and social media forums to let people share experiences
  • Scheduling apps that tell people when to take mandatory breaks, even when they work from home.

Compliance & Risk Management

You also need to consider the benefits of complying with industry standards. Those that fail to comply with industry and government regulations face hefty fines, expensive lawsuits, and tarnished reputations that encourage clients to leave for safer service providers.

The right systems automatically keep you compliant. Meaning you no longer have to face these challenges or risks.

Identifying Issues Specific to Professional Services

The issues facing your organization will depend on your industry. For IT firms, agility and maintaining focus on innovation is key, while accountancy firms are looking for new ways to work more efficiently and keep costs low.

No one knows how the future will affect individual industries. We do know, however, that COOs will need to focus on strategic priorities that eliminate unnecessary expenses, embrace the benefits of emerging technologies, and help people discover straightforward solutions to their problems.

Find out how Unit4’s industry-leading solutions for Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Human Capital Management (HCM), and Financial Planning & Analysis (FP&A) can help your organization to be ready for the future.

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