Talking with Top Stakeholders – Chris Glen – RevOps Rockstars

Joining us for Episode #25 of the RevOps Rockstars Podcast is Chris Glen, Head of Business Systems and Data Team at Invicti Security.

Protecting revenue for a company is a delicate balancing act between getting new customers, serving existing customers, and handling operations work. This week’s guest is here to help make that balance easier. With over nine years of experience in Business Systems, he has built and led teams across a variety of departments. Chris sits down with hosts  David Carnes and Jarin Chu to help teams revamp their change management strategies, strengthen relationships with company investors, and find their balance.

“For me, success is more about the journey than it is about the destination.”

Chris Glen, Head of Business Systems and Data Team at Invicti Security

Listen on your favorite podcast app:

During this discussion, we learn how to communicate with stakeholders during cross-functional initiatives — and we discuss the questions and topics listed below:

  1. What’s something Chris had to learn the hard way?
  2. Learning more about Invicti
  3. How is Invicti’s RevOps team structured?
  4. How does Chris prioritize CS ops?
  5. What does Chris’ day-to-day look like?
  6. How does Chris measure success in his role?
  7. What type of cross-functional initiatives does Chris lead?
  8. How does Chris build and develop relationships with investors?
  9. What tech stack tools are key to Invicti’s success? 
  10. What are Chris’ thoughts on the future of RevOps?
  11. Learning more about Chris’ background
  12. RevOps Shoutouts

Here are the top 5 takeaways from the discussion:

  1. Importance of stakeholder engagement: Chris emphasizes the significance of getting stakeholders, especially senior-level stakeholders, properly engaged in major projects from the start. He distinguishes between partial engagement and having someone who is willing to go to bat for the project, defend it with the executive team, and push for its usage within their team. 
  2. Balancing strategic projects and day-to-day operations: Chris follows a principle of separating work into two categories: run the business work vs strategic projects. He assigns smaller, day-to-day tasks to the internal team, while larger projects that require more time and expertise are outsourced. This approach allows the internal team to focus on operational tasks and prevents them from getting overwhelmed or distracted by big projects. 
  3. Prioritizing customer success: There’s a growing importance of customer success teams and the need to invest in CS operations. Chris mentions that he spends the majority of his time working with the customer success team because of the operational complexities involved in ensuring customer satisfaction and reducing churn. 
  4. Leveraging analyst expertise: The use of analysts from Summit Partners‘ operating team has been beneficial in providing a unique perspective on leveraging data from Salesforce. They bring a different approach to reporting, such as implementing a funnel-oriented model for various processes, which helps in visualizing and optimizing the workflow.
  5. Network and knowledge sharing: The private equity operating team, working with multiple portfolio companies, has valuable networks and experiences. They can provide introductions and recommendations, as well as facilitate conversations among different companies. This networking and knowledge sharing allows for learning from others’ successes and failures, enabling more informed decision-making and avoiding potential pitfalls.

Expanding your professional career

Chris gave us some incredible insights into how best to communicate with stakeholders to ensure everyone is aligned and rowing in the same direction. 

Connect with Chris Glen on LinkedIn to hear even more RevOps insights, or check out at his company, Invicti Security. Our next episode features special guest Hoppy Maffione, VP of Revenue Operations and Strategy at Harness. Watch all our past recordings on the RevOps Rockstars Youtube channel!

This podcast is part of the #RevOpsRockstars network.

Full Automated Transcript

Chris Glen: It’s easy to say, oh, our most important thing we can contribute to is revenue, right?

So let’s put all of our time towards working on projects that grow our top line. Well, in doing that, we’re leaving behind compliance. We’re leaving behind tech debt. We’re leaving behind efficiency gains, operational gains, all of which will add value to the company, and all of which are worth our time. 

David Carnes: Today’s guest is someone we are pumped to speak with. He has over nine years of experience with business systems. He’s an experienced leader who’s built and led teams across a variety of departments. He’s a strategist who knows how to put words into action, head of business systems, and the data team at INV Security.

Chris Glenn, welcome to the podcast.

Chris Glen: Thank you. Nice to be here.

David Carnes: So we love to start off by asking right off the bat, what’s something that you’ve had to learn the hard way in RevOps.

Chris Glen: Yeah, it’s a great, question. David and I have literally dozens of answers for it. Anyone who’s at a small company, a growing company, learns a lot of things on the fly. And so I, you know, I think we could make an entire podcast, out of just this one topic. I think the one that I keep coming back to, is the importance of getting stakeholders, even if it’s just one very senior level stakeholder involved and properly engaged, in projects, in major projects from the start.

And what I mean by that is, Partial engagement is one thing, and that happens on most every project where you have a steering committee, you meet every month, you know, you may send them email updates. There’s a difference between that and someone who’s willing to go to bat for the project.

Both with the executive team, especially in meetings where, you know, the project manager like myself or someone else isn’t present and people are talking about why are we doing this thing? Is this gonna solve our problems? You need someone to be able to credibly defend why you’re doing the project and then also to defend it with their team and push usage and be someone who’s actually been in the trenches and done the work that they’re doing, who can credibly say, hey, this will make your life better.

Cuz coming from me, it just is incredible cause I haven’t necessarily done the work that they’re doing. So really that’s the one I keep coming back to. I’ve seen projects fail because, because you don’t have it. I’ve seen projects succeed because you do have it. It’s rare that I’ve seen projects succeed when you don’t have it.

David Carnes: Is there a negotiation that takes place to line up that, exec sponsor for, for your projects?

Chris Glen: Yeah. So I think there are two components to it. The first is there’s, there, there, there has to be a negotiation at the executive level. So, you know, my manager, for instance, you know, may not be the exec sponsor I’m looking for, but oftentimes he has to be the one to engage with the right person to, to help bring them across the line in addition to me.

So I think that’s an important piece of it. And then you have to have an honest conversation with them before you actually get into the project to make sure that everyone’s aligned and you, you avoid surprises later. So be very clear. This is what we’re trying to accomplish. This is what we’re not trying to accomplish.

And if you do those things, you know, ge generally speaking, once you get into the project, it’s a lot easier to to get it going.

Jarin Chu: So I’d like to paint a picture for our listeners today, Chris, on, how everything you’ve mentioned just now around that exec alignment, sponsor alignment fits in the context of your business. Your company in Victory Security serves the IT governance finance, healthcare education industries.

You’re almost at 400 employees and, I think in 2021 Summit Partners, which is a Boston-based private equity firm, acquired the company for 625 million. In your words, first of all, what does INV do?

Chris Glen: Yeah, so Invictus, core product, does what’s called dynamic application security testing, or das. The way to think about DAST is basically, you know, every application that’s, you know, accessible via the internet was. Programmed initially years and years ago. Right. As time goes by, the, you know, AppSec best principles tend to change.

New things are discovered, new issues are discovered, new vulnerabilities are discovered. And so what may have been secure five, 10 years ago when an application was originally created is no longer gonna be secured today. And so, you know, ideally you can have some sort of system that sits on top of your production applications and monitors them, and flags to you when those vulnerabilities pop up.

And that’s exactly what dynamic application security testing does. That’s inv Vicky’s product.

Jarin Chu: And that almost makes too much sense. I know in ops we have the concept of tech debt. In this case it sounds like there’s security debt, where over time, You know, if you’re not actively looking for it, how would you know that something is out of date? And, there are loopholes now for folks to go, you know, attack.

Your background, Chris, is a bit different from our typical, podcast guest background. You know, we have a lot of RevOps folks, but your purview is actually a little bit broader and maybe a little bit, more oriented towards the tech side. So you are head of the business systems team. Paint me a picture of what the responsibilities are and how big is the team that you work with?

Chris Glen: You know, a lot of times and a lot of companies, I mean, it can, it can vary based on the company and some companies, your, your systems teams roll up more into it and other companies, your systems teams roll up more, into your head of revenue operations. And we’re, we’re more at the ladder.

Group. We, you know, when, when I joined, we had, you know, a larger revenue operations team. A few of those folks have, have since left and we’ve aligned, you know, some of the smaller revenue, the subgroups of revenue operations, marketing operations, you know, forecasting, you know, those sorts of things within the line of business.

So now I sit alone, but I also, tend to take on some sales operations, tasks as well as they come up because we don’t really have a sales operations team. So what that means, is that the team that I’ve built, has to be a group of generalists who are, who have, you know, a diverse array of experience, but also are very eager to try new things, to, to learn, you know, the latest technology and the latest reporting techniques, you know, what have you, in order to, to get things done.

So high level. I manage three teams. One is our data team, one is business systems, revenue systems is the specific area that I manage. We have a finance systems team that rolls up separately from me. And then I also manage our deal desk. DealDesk is obviously the most OPK team that I manage.

Everyone else is more of a business systems analyst that does ops work occasionally. All told we have I believe I have eight people, directly in my team. We use a lot of, outsourced help as well as needed, in order to, augment the team. But you know, again, we, we all kind of flow in between the three verticals that I manage as, as required.

Jarin Chu: And since you manage, deal desk, you also own some of those sales operations tasks. Can you gimme a sense of how big is the BDR/SDR slash sales team that you’re supporting with

these eight people? 

Chris Glen: Yeah, so, BDR, SDR you know, insight sales is, call it somewhere in the 20-person range. The, the sales team, you know, account executives, you know, call it somewhere in the 30 to 40 range. And then we also, frankly, I spend, probably a majority of my time working with our customer success, team because we have a lot of, operational and efficiency, complexities there that, you know, we can deal with, you know, with, with systems.

That team is, you know, probably in the 40 to 50 range.

Jarin Chu: We’ve heard in prior podcasts, conversations that some of the folks in  RevOps today are actually prioritizing things like CSops over sales ops, for example, just given the climate of the year we’re in and wanting to make sure we prioritize retention and red reduced churn and that sort of thing. Can you quickly mention, since you said you spend, you know, majority of your time in CS, what are the kinds of initiative.

You have been leading when in CS you’re really excited about.

Chris Glen: Yeah. So, one of the highest, strategic priorities for our chief customer officer, is to add more automation for, our smallest, our band, our smallest. Segment band of customers. So trying to figure out what that means in practice, is actually a pretty tricky problem, right? I mean, are we, or you know, should all customers within a certain size range be treated the same?

Should we segment them differently based on what product they have, based on how long they’ve been a customer, based on what their geography is? And so you know, there, there’s definitely a lot more that we have to figure out there. But a good starting point for us has been thinking about just the simple problem of how do we communicate with them.

So traditionally, we still have had CSMs who’ve done a lot of the manual outreach, even on the hundreds and hundreds of our smallest. Customers and they just can’t keep up with it. So you know, what it means for our customers is that they don’t hear from us that often. And ideally we wanna change that.

And so we, you know, recently purchased a segment, to sort of serve, you know, as our CDP for a bunch of use cases. But one of the first use cases that we’re gonna be putting it towards is, using it to actually segment the, the name applies well here, our customer base, to be able to do customized outreach for them both in the product and via email.

So that’s something that is, really exciting to me. Another thing that we’ve been working with them on, is implementing, a new. CS oriented tool for them, kind of like a gain side or a churn and zero, that allows, that gives them a hub of activity, with the information they specifically seek in order to do their job versus what we had before, which was more of a generic, you know, sales view that both our sales and CS and frankly our insight sales teams all used.

Jarin Chu: Yeah, I think in, in a lot of cases over the years, CS maybe had the. You know, maybe impression of, being second class citizens even to sales, because sales is the team that’s actively bringing revenue. But this, I mean, I would really say this is the year of CS, right? They are the ones to shine. They’re the ones to ensure that the revenues coming in, customers are happy.

You’re, deflecting cases and reducing the amount of unexpected churn as much as possible. So it makes sense that you’re investing in these initiatives right now.

Chris Glen: Yeah. But a hundred percent we’re, we’re lucky. We have, we have some great strategic minds, as well on, on that team, who are very, they’re very operationally oriented, so that, that makes my job a lot easier because they, in a lot of cases, are able to define here’s what the, what here’s what we want the process to look like.

The, and the process should always lead the technology, especially in, you know, in cases like this because it just makes change management a lot easier and you aren’t jamming something into, into a, you know, a process that doesn’t, fit. So yeah,  I’m excited about what the, the year ahead of us holds.

Jarin Chu: So across, inside sales, sales, CS, I think you’re supporting something like a hundred or so folks. You’ve got a team of eight. You mentioned earlier that you actually rely on a good amount of outsource and external help. How do you determine what you keep in-house and what do you outsource?

Chris Glen: Yeah. You know, it’s a great question. I use a couple of principles for it. I think the most fundamental principle is separating the world between run the business work and strategic projects work, run the business. Work is, I think of it. I mean, and the, the edges are pretty blurred here, but I think of it as pretty much anything that can be completed in a sprint or less so, two week, two weeks of work or less.

Oftentimes it’s things that can be completed in, you know, two minutes. To an hour, you know, so something like that. A lot of it’s day-to-day stuff that people raise, things that are broken, but it could also be in that new functionality. But it’s more on the smaller side. What I’ve found is that if you have your internal team working on anything much bigger than that sprint sized, project, They, tend to get, you know, overwhelmed and get distracted by the, you know, the other database stuff, and you don’t ever get anything done, at least amongst the big things.

So I, I tend to push anything that’s bigger than that into kind of the strategic projects bucket and I’ll, I’ll bring in, you know, outsourced help to do that. A lot of times for us, the bigger projects are much, much bigger. We’re talking about six month implementations, not, you know, two sprint implementations.

But, but you know, that, that’s a, that’s a principle. I try to adhere to the other, the other piece that I think is really important is, domain expertise and then kind of these seen this before, advisory side of things. So, you know, if, if we’re imp implementing a new system, for instance, that we only have limited understanding of, of course you’re gonna bring in an expert to do that, and that that’s another great place and to, to outsource it.

And then if you’re trying to solve a gnarly business problem, that maybe you’ve seen at one other company, but you’d love to know how 20 other companies have solved it, that’s another great time to bring in, outsourced health as well.

David Carnes: So, Chris, you’ve described owning the data team, the business systems team, deal desk. I’m really curious, what does your day-to-day entail?

Chris Glen: Yeah, it’s a great question. Every, every day is different. You know, I, I think that the, one of the, the beauties that I think can frustrate a lot of people about a company of our size is just the dynamic nature of the day-to-day, week to week, month to month. It’s, it’s really hard for me to put a finger on what you know, Our priorities will be next week, let alone next month.

And, you know, we try our best to plan, excuse me, to plan and roadmap, and, and do all of that. But a lot of times things are just dynamic and, and, and they just change. And so that pretty much sums up my day, right? I mean, I, I think that if I had to categorize it, if I had to bucket it, there are probably three main, things that I focus a lot of my time on.

One of them is people and team management. So the people, the people management side is, is the hands down the most important part of my job. I’m really lucky to have an awesome team. And so keeping them eager, keeping them feeling engaged, making sure they’re working on things that are interesting to them, making sure they aren’t burned out, which is a huge risk.

The, those are all, you know, Jobs one A, B, and C. For me, on a day-to-day basis, I also manage a broader team, right? So I’m, you know, in charge of putting in structures. How often do we need, how do we do planning, how do we do execution? You know, what do we prioritize and when? So I, I think that that’s, you know, that that’s kind of what fits in one, one big bucket.

The second bucket is, more of the, almost being a customer success manager for our internal organization. We have a lot of stakeholders. We operate at the Confluence, both of pretty much every team at the company and so making sure that I know when I meet with, you know, everyone at the team, what is the, you know, are the biggest one to two problems that are top of mind for them, and can we help?

And if we can help, what are reasonable projects that we can build out in order to help them? When should we do them? How should we do them? Who should own them? So that, that part of planning is, is obviously a big part of my job. And then execution ends up taking up, you know, at least 50% of my time.

And that’s everything from. Just pushing along projects from more of a manager standpoint. You know, can I help unblock things? Have we tried this, that sort of thing to spending time plugging gaps, just, you know, in Salesforce, pulling reports, helping with audit, uh, helping with testing. Uh, that’s, it’s possible to avoid that stuff and frankly, I enjoy it.

David Carnes: So given that every day is different and you, uh, are really involved in a number of things, how do you measure success in your role?

Chris Glen: Yeah. Another great question. It’s interesting because traditional orthodoxy about roles in companies like ours is you have to block out all the noise. You have to focus on finding the, two to three things for your team that are the most valuable for the company and say no to everything else.

And, work on those two to three things. And I, I found in my career that, and you know, if you can make that work, that’s great. And anyone who can, you know, is. That’s awesome. I mean, that’s a, that is, that is a good strategy. I found it to be really difficult to, do that in practice. Because again, we, we sit at the confluence of the, the needs of a lot of different teams, and some of those teams do not, you know, it’s, it’s easy to say, oh, our most important thing we can contribute to is revenue, right?

So let’s put all of our time towards working on projects that grow our top line. Well, in doing that, we’re leaving behind compliance. We’re leaving behind tech debt. We’re leaving behind efficiency gains, operational gains, all of which will add value to the company, and all of which are worth our time.

And so for, for me, success is more about the journey than it is about the, the destination. The destination’s really important. What are you accomplishing? But how you get there is, is also really important because we need to have a good partnership and a good relationship with everyone around us.

So it’s, you know, again, it’s talking to the top stakeholders, understanding what their problems are, trying to scope good solutions, and, and really making everyone feel like we are working with them. We are a partner to them. And if we’re, if we’re doing that, and we’re executing work and completing it, and that work was well planned using the structures we put in place, that, that is success for me.

Jarin Chu: The tension you’re calling out Chris, in terms of the, the how you’re, you’re sitting at that confluence, right? How they are, you’re trying to find focus and yet everything you’re doing technically affects revenue. And the, the challenge I’m also hearing is how do you address both the issues that your stakeholders are calling out that are immediate pinpoint, short term, very visible, and some of those things you mentioned.

Towards the end of your comment there, which are more strategic items, takes longer, will impact revenue, but maybe not in the next month, maybe not even in the next quarter. Maybe it’s next year, right? Like that balance. I’m curious to have your take on because focus is probably one of the hardest pieces to a cross-functional role like RevOps in general, but certainly in your business systems type of function.

Chris Glen: Right. Yeah. But it’s true. Fo focus is, you know, is, is really, is a really difficult thing to achieve. I also think you, you’re, you made a great point about timeframes, short term, long term. There, there’s a risk which we fall into all the time, which is that, because the company needs something yesterday, you build a subpar solution to achieve that thing versus, you know, there is always a way you can build a solution.

In a system to a problem that is more scalable, that’s less brittle, it’s gonna be more reliable, easier to maintain. And, and that trade off is, is really tricky as well. So the business problem could be exactly the same, but that the, how you get there is, is something that can vary dramatically.

And the, the biggest battles that I tend to fight internally are trying to get people to see the value in doing the ladder and doing things the right way instead of just hacking together some reports and dashboards and Excel sheets that will get us there, you know, much faster, but you know, won’t be able to scale.

David Carnes: So, Chris, I’m really curious, uh, given that all that you do and all that you’re responsible for, what, if anything, keeps you up at night?

Chris Glen: Well, first off, David, I have a 20 month old, so what keeps me up at night is, uh, usually not work things. It’s usually something else. But if I am, kept up enough, I not, I work things, it feels like it’s always something different. I think the number one thing though that I’m most worried about waking up in the morning, signing on and seeing is that, some piece of legacy technology that my team didn’t build that existed, before.

You know, any of us, were at the company but that now it drives some really important business process, has failed and we, we don’t know how to fix it. And, and that is a risk. It’s, it’s been born out in the past and it’s always a risk that’s out there and that, that is honestly number, number one on my list.

Is, is that kind of dread?

David Carnes: that sounds like a re recurring nightmare, for someone in your role.

Chris Glen: Yes it


Jarin Chu: Chris, we’re talking a lot about already the many, many things that your cross-functional team is trying to do internally. You know, you mentioned fighting battles on bringing that strategic, maybe more longer term payoff, project to the table, and helping stakeholders understand the power of that. I’m sure you also get pulled into.

Other cross-functional special projects. And, we hear this a lot with folks who lead business systems. They end up because of their technology, background, because of their ability to work with lots of stakeholders, you’re really the task force that’s in considered total forces. You get parachuted in.

What are some of these cross-functional corporate level initiatives that you’ve worked on as of late that you’ve been proud of, or you were like, wow, that was quite the beast.

Chris Glen: Yeah. So, excuse me. At, at Invicta we had last year was a, a pretty big year for, Deploying new systems, or for re-architecting existing systems and doing kind of full top to bottom rebuilds. so we did a major, re architecture of our CPQ instance. CPQ is, you know, the heartbeat.If not the heartbeat, you know, Salesforce itself might be the heartbeat, but it is, a major artery where if it fails it, it’s a, it’s a big problem.

And so swapping it out midstream, is, is really difficult. And that’s you know, the challenge there is making sure, people understand the why, understand what they’re getting out of it, and. Are therefore willing to put up with some inevitable headaches that come up with it. And, and by the way, that applies both to your internal team.

So my, my deal desk team, in addition to our sales reps, I mean, the amount of, the amount of headaches that we had to put up with just in internal to my team dealing with the transition, were, were huge. Huge. And it’s, you know, it’s all about going back to, to the why, like, why did we do this?

All systems projects are like this. There is pain, initially as people adjust to the new way of doing things as we work through bugs, that there’s no way we could have taught during testing. Things do get better. And so just kind of keeping the morale high and, and pushing people through that and, and both sides, and that, that, that’s a, that is a, I view that as a big part of my job.

You know, even if I don’t have the in-depth day-to-day technical knowledge that, that my teams have, you know, I have an obligation to everyone to, to help make sure we’re, you know, thinking about things as positively as possible. So we got through it and you know, I think that was, that, that was a big one for last year.

we had a couple of other, you know, major project deployments or major system deployments. One of them was Marketo. We converted from Pardo to Marketo. that was mostly confined to our finance team. But, what made that one particularly challenging was we had to. Weave it into our existing Salesforce instance, which was built to support Pardot and had supported Pardot for three years.

And no one really understood, again, because no one had been, no one on my team had been at the company when Pardot had been implemented, how all of the pieces fit together. And so there’s kind of this architecture question of a, enterprise architecture question that comes up in any cross-functional project of like, who actually knows how this stuff works and can make decisions on it.

And if not, you know, who, like, who, who needs to step up and, and actually, and actually, you know, action things. And so that, that was a, that was a fun challenge for that one.

Jarin Chu: Yeah, these two are great examples. I think when you mentioned the CPQ re architecture project, this is the first time, I heard it called, you know, the ar. Artery for the business or the heartbeat. But it really is, I mean, if, if sales can’t efficiently and effectively get quotes out, accurate, quotes out the right discounts out, it that directly impacts the bottom line.

And I’ve never thought of it, but it really is like doing open heart surgery, you’ve gotta keep the patient alive and breathing, while you’ll swap out something that’s very, very important and central to them. 

Chris Glen: Yep. 

Jarin Chu: You mentioned the importance also about going back to why, and, that’s, that’s a point that, you know, I, I’m so glad to hear because there are times when, you know, we’ll hear about projects.

Maybe we’ve spent a lot of time on him and we’ve worked on, initiatives alongside our customers for, for months and months and months. But let’s say an executive stakeholder steps away and suddenly folks are like, Hey, You just launched this new thing, we don’t like it. This isn’t what we used to have.

This isn’t, you know, what we’re used to. And the why is so essential, because it’s easy to then slip back and say, okay, well just do things the old way. But there was a reason why we decided, you know, as a business team or you know, consultants with, as a stakeholder to decide to move forward with this big, bold initiative, right?

To help with growth or whatever other, kind of big, big moves are on the horizon. So that, going back to why I think is, really resonating with me, Chris.

Chris Glen: Yeah. Yeah. Jar, that’s a, that’s a great, point about, about kind of people’s tendency to revert back, even if it’s mentally to the way things were before, almost, you know, ha having kind of a, you know, a, a lust for the past, right? It’s like, oh, things used to be so much easier. Change management is really a continuous exercise.

People think of it as a one-time discreet thing that you just do right around the go live of a new system. But it’s, that’s usually not enough because you’ll train someone once, they may be distracted during the training. They’ll, you know, click through the quiz answers until they get them right, and then they’ll move on with their life.

And they, they really aren’t any better off, in their understanding of the new system than maybe they were in the old system. And so within months you start to see people go back into old habits, people. Figure out their own way of new, of using the new system, maybe whatever they find out to be easiest.

And that’s a problem that, that we’ve had with CPQ specifically, is, you know, people, people just wanna get through their day and wanna get quotes out and so they, they find their, the workarounds that work for them. And so making, finding a way to bring them back in, keep them in the right lanes, which for their sake will be better off, where the deal desk’s sake will be better off for the company as, as a whole will be better off.

Is a big part of change management and it just, that never ends.

Jarin Chu: One question related to change management, I’m gonna tie these two comments you mentioned about the part out to Marketo transition and the CPQ implementation or re-implementation together. You mentioned in the part out example, everyone who had initially implemented it understood the system architecture had already left the company.

So when you are rolling out a new initiative like the CPQ re-architecture, what are some of the things you have introduced to this part of the process to help prevent that kind of knowledge gap from happening Again, if you go on vacation or if your team, turns over or folks, you know, get promoted into different kinds of roles,

Chris Glen: Yeah, it’s a great question. The, you know, documentation I think is, is one of the best ways of, you know, of solving that problem. But it doesn’t solve, every aspect of the problem. I think that the technical side can be figured out if you get a smart person in there, with at least.

Documentation that’s 80%, accurate and, and, and useful. They can solve the, you know, any problem that’s occurring on the backend. The thing actually that I worry most about is that people leave who regularly respond to questions from users. And,  there isn’t a person who can step in that has the knowledge to provide a quick answer of like, oh, you know, you’re getting that error.

This is how you work around it. Uh, or Oh, like this is taking you two hours here. Here’s a better way of doing it that will take you 20 minutes and so, So we’re actually investing heavily in that side of things. We’re bringing in a tool called, spect, which sort of sits on top of Salesforce, and is a really a bunch of different functionality, but the place we’re starting with it, is a pretty simple kind of search and discovery function that has, you know, documentation with, you know, pretty good search functionality on top of it that allows users to type in, I hit this error, you know, what should I do?

The short term benefits of that is that we’ll get a lot fewer questions on the deal desk. The longer term benefit of that is that that will live forever and so that, that will persist, you know, even after, folks, you know, leave the company

Jarin Chu: That’s great. I think that’s learning from your predecessors and also making, who might come after, have a easier job. I’m glad you mentioned spect. For those who are listening, I believe we’ve got a conversation with Laura Wheeler from SPECT also, in the queue. So look forward to that episode. Chris, let’s talk about some higher level, conversations as it relates to the relationship with your board and investors. So Summit Partners is your, is wholly owns the company now. I’m curious what is the relationship between your role in business systems and the team at Summit?

Chris Glen: Yeah. So from a standpoint of the investors themselves and the board, I, I don’t have a lot of direct interaction with them. The data team that rolls up into me is regularly involved, in answering questions for them. And so that’s probably the closest I get to that. It’s, you know, it’s reporting on revenue and retention and, you know, th those sorts of things, you know, on, on a pretty regular basis.

As the board demands, I tend to have a lot more interaction with, More of the operational side, of our, of our investors,  have found it very helpful. You know, for a couple of reasons. I think one of them is what I referenced earlier about outsourced help. You know, an operating, an operating partner at an investment firm is gonna have seen dozens of companies.

They’ll have seen what works and what doesn’t. And so tapping into that knowledge is, you know, a, really great opportunity for me. And the other piece of it is sometimes if you need to get things done, you know, operating teams will have, you know, even analyst folks who, who can, you know, work on things, to help out the company.

And those folks are not distracted by the day-to-day as much as you are. So that can be really beneficial.

Jarin Chu: Chris, you mentioned that you can lean on analyst folks from Summit Partners operating team to help with some of the initiatives and they’re less distracted. What are some of those examples that you’ve been able to lean on? The operating team for.

Chris Glen: Yeah, it’s a, it’s a great question. I think from an analytical standpoint, they bring a unique perspective about how to leverage the data that comes out of Salesforce in a way that paints a really good picture for tracking operational metrics. So they, they usually will think about reporting in a different way, by, for instance, kind of implementing a funnel oriented model, on top of pretty much anything, right?

So you can think about, you know, if you’re trying to schedule a meeting, you know, the meeting needs to be scheduled. We’ve tried to reach out to schedule it, we’ve scheduled it, we’ve completed it. You know, maybe it’s resulted in like an opportunity being created, right. That, that can very easily be looked at as, as a funnel.

And so that mentality is what I’ve found most useful. I mean, obviously they can do the work too in a lot of cases, and they have the skills to do that. But bringing interesting ideas to, to the for, for reporting is also, you know, really beneficial.

Jarin Chu: Great. And I know the operating team, because they are working with lots of portfolio companies, they have their own networks, I’m sure they come in handy, when it comes to things like introduction and recommendations as well.

Chris Glen: Hundred percent. Yeah. I, I’ve been lucky to participate in a number of conversations with other Summit portfolio companies about, what’s worked and what hasn’t for them. So, you know, and it’s, it’s two ways, right? So a lot of times I will participate as someone who’s done something before. To tell them, here’s what you can expect.

Here are the pitfalls. All of that from, you know, moving to Marketo for instance, or from doing a major data cleanup effort, you know, those, those sorts of things. There’s some of the most useful conversations that I’ve had.

David Carnes: So Chris, the next two questions are, are very much connected to your title, head of Business Systems and Data Team to start with, on the business system side, I’m really curious, is there a, a tech stack tool that you just couldn’t live without right now?

Chris Glen: Yeah. I think over the last three to six months, what’s moved to the top of my list there is RingLead. So RingLead is a ZoomInfo product. There are other solutions that do a similar thing. So Cloud Dingo is another example. Basically for those who don’t know, it’s a, record and data management tool.

So it sits on top of your Salesforce instance. And allows you to manipulate records in a way that’s a lot easier than, doing it in Salesforce so generally speaking, I’m a pretty big fan of moving as much business logic out of Salesforce as you can into things that are easier to, you know, to, to use and, and manipulate things with.

So whether it be, lead assignment and lead routing, how to handle duplicate records, how to, handle, you know, records when someone leaves, maybe someone leaves and you wanna reassign their account and you wanna do it on an automated basis. RingLead does all of that. You can automate it and you can also do it on sort of a one-time basis.

And it’s been transformative for us since we’ve started using it aggressively.

David Carnes: Well, that’s an endorsement to hear that a tool’s been transformative. I’m, I’m really glad for you and your team. So, on the data team side, I’m curious where, where do you go to get an at glance view of the KPIs that you use to run the business?

Chris Glen: Yeah, so predominantly it’s Tableau. We definitely have a number of users who prefer to use data directly from Salesforce. You know, I’m a fan of trying to consolidate everything and make sure everyone is viewing the same numbers from the same source. You know, but, but people have their reasons for, for doing it, and I’m not, you know, I’m obviously not gonna, you know, try to hold people back from, from that.

But, you know, generally speaking, it’s gonna be Tableau, which now sits on top of Snowflake for us.

David Carnes: that sounds like a winning combination. Taking one big step back and just looking way out into the future. I’m, I’m curious, what is exciting to you when you think about the future of systems?

Chris Glen: Yeah. I think the next 10 years are gonna be, transformative in a similar way to how, you know, the, maybe the early to mid two thousands to you know, 2010 to 2015 where, that period obviously was transformed by, moving into cloud-based, business systems. I think the next 10 years you’re gonna see a couple of different trends, at least the, the ones that are most interesting to me.

One of them, you know, I referenced a bit earlier with, RingLead, which is moving Business Logic out of kind of your behemoth monolithic CRM. I think between RingLead and reverse e TL systems like census and just the ease of use of, snowflake, you know, BigQuery, you know what, whatever you use for your, your data lake, that, that combination will allow a lot of companies to make their data lake their, their source of record for everything across the, the enterprise, and then more easily manipulate it.

Push it into Salesforce or whatever their CRM is and dramatically simplify their CRM, which will in turn, make change management a lot easier, and will remove a lot of the kind of reliability and legacy issues that, that you see in CRMs today. so I really think there’s this de disaggregation trend that’s gonna be picking up steam, here moving into the future.

But that pales in comparison to, what I think the biggest impact is gonna be, which is AI, which is obviously what everyone is talking about right now. And there are already ways in which artificial intelligence is, you know, having a pretty big impact on teams, generative ai especially, you know, using it to compose emails, using it to, compose, you know, tweets and, and slide decks and, and all of that.

That’s the tip of the iceberg. I see especially as an ops person, I see the ops role being transformed by chat AI to the point where we don’t have to do day-to-day run the business tasks anymore because they can be done for us. And then we, you know, we can focus on kind of a higher level stuff that I think everyone wants to, to work on.

So the, there’s a, there is finally, you know, with chat GPT and all that very clear path for me for what that looks like. I don’t know when it’s gonna happen, but I think it, you know, within the next five years we’re gonna be at a very different place.

David Carnes: And Salesforce made their announcement around their, AI-driven chat, tool at Trailblazer DX just a few weeks ago. So we’ll see that later this year. It’ll be interesting to see how that fits in with, the platform.

Chris Glen: Yep. Hundred.

David Carnes: So staying on that thread, what in RevOps would you like to automate?

Chris Glen: It’s a good, it’s a, it’s a good question. I will say, going back to your, what keeps me up in, in the middle of the night question from earlier, automation in general, tends to be one of those things that, that really comes back and causes more, challenges for us that, that they ultimately solve.

And that’s coming from a position of, you know, I realized that before automation was, you know, was a thing that was easy to implement, thing that it, like life was a lot harder. So, you know, our life is better. And so a little bit of this is just kind of, you know, complaining about, you know, about our life being, you know, comparatively good.

To me the, the ultimate kind of holy grail for automation in general is not so much what’s the next thing that can be incrementally automated, but how do we create an overall structure in which automations, work. Where it’s a lot easier to make sy major systems changes without having to worry about every corner of your system firing off automations, that, that have adverse impacts for your business.

It makes, it basically makes every major project you want to do a waterfall project versus an agile project. It’s really hard to do agile, in an, an environment like Salesforce ad so I don’t, I, you know, it’s kind of an indirect answer to your question. What do I wish I could automate? I wish I could, I wish I could work better with automation.

I wish there was, there was a way, to make it function. I, you know, I, in a way that, that was easier for us to work with.

David Carnes: Sure. And even turn it on. Turn it off when you need to and, and that sort of thing.

Chris Glen: Sure.

David Carnes: So we’d like to, talk about you for a bit. You’re based in Denver, Colorado. You did an undergraduate in philosophy, which I love to hear that you’re at University of Michigan. You did an MBA at UC Boulder Amazing School in Amazing Town.

Your previous positions, you were head of strategic programs at JumpCloud. You were a group product manager of business systems at Palantir for six years. I’m curious, given all these things in your background, including a degree in philosophy, how did you get into SaaS business systems and ops?

Chris Glen: Right. Yeah. I wish I could tell you there was a grand plan, that, that led me to philosophy in the first place. And then from philosophy to where I am today, I think what’s interesting about revenue ops to me is, is I’ve gotten closer and closer to the discipline and gotten to know more and more people.

It’s an area where, you get a very diverse array of, of backgrounds. People come to RevOps from. All, you know, some of ’em from very traditional backgrounds, they studied business, you know, gone to revenue ops, but you know, some of them came from sales obviously. But some people came from, you know, frankly very disparate places where you wouldn’t expect them to end up somewhere, like revenue ops.

I think that’s what makes it a really interesting field, is that the doors are open, if you are a generalist, if you can think, you know, analytically, but also in kind of a systems manner. If you’re good with process, if you’re good with getting things done, you have a spot, you know, in RevOps.

So as I think about my career, that’s kind of how the script played out, played out for me. I mean there, there’s some linearity there in that I’d been in the tech industry, you know, for 10 plus years. I started in product management, in sort of a customer facing, almost like a customer success role, but it was hybrid CS, and I was, I was working with our product team to build new functionality.

And then moved to Palantir doing customer facing work, which was very product management oriented. Then moved to our internal team doing product management, and then that kind of morphed into more of this business systems’s leadership, role, which encompasses a lot more team management, vendor management, operational work, you know, that kind of stuff you see today.

And so, so really that’s what it was. I mean, I was, you know, trying to find a place that made the most sense for my skills and, and interests. And that’s, you know, it just been sort of a period of trial and error to get there.

David Carnes: So if you could go back to that early point in your career and give yourself a piece of advice, what, what would you, what would you say?

Chris Glen: Yeah. You know, I think, and I don’t, I wouldn’t have played my, you know, Played my career any differently? I don’t think, but, you know, if I told myself 10 years ago I would end up where I was today, and wanted to prepare myself better for it, I would’ve started earlier on learning the technical side.

It’s much easier in a career path to start in a highly technical role, be it, you know, an analyst at a consulting firm or, you know, an ops analyst at a company or a software engineer, and then move into management. That is to move into management and then realize, oh, I wish I had, you know, more technical expertise here.

Let me add that, you know, to the toolkit. Obviously there are tons of resources you can, you know, find them everywhere online in order to bolster that. But you really get the experience by doing it in your, your day-to-day job. And, I just don’t have time to do it. And haven’t had time for, for years to really.

Learned by doing. And so I think that’s, that’s it, right? 10 years ago, if I had taught myself Salesforce, found the time to do it, found some opportunities to, to do it in my job, replace Salesforce with any other business system, I think that would’ve been beneficial for me today.

Jarin Chu: Yeah, I can echo that a bit. I think for the longest time David’s seen me, throughout the years, you know, I’ve wondered should I go, explore the development side of things? Should I spend more time, hands on? And ultimately I think the reality is the path I. Is never linear. I think it is easier to learn technical earlier on.

But being able to build your path and carve out, you know, a very interesting set of skillsets, unique to the experiences you’ve had. And Chris, your time at Palantir, I know I always wonder like, what exactly do they do right? Like that’s given you a very unique set of experiences and exposure to, do the job.

Probably only you can.

Chris Glen: Right. That’s right. And, and Palantir, you know, at its core, it was just a group of, you know, entrepreneurial-minded people. Building, building stuff for, for customers. I mean, it was all very data-oriented, right? Like solve a big data driven problem for a company where they hadn’t been able to solve it before.

You know, that was always the kind of, The entry point. But from there, you know, the teams that were deployed against these problems, had to just kind of figure it out. And so that, that’s always been the mentality that I’ve taken, you know, obviously with me during my time at Palantir. But, but since then is, you know, there, there’re gonna be multiple times per week where you have a business problem.

No one has seen it before. There isn’t a clear path, best practice way of solving it. Someone has to figure it out. So let’s figure out who that person is gonna be. And if it’s not them, it’s, it’s gonna be me. You know, like that’s, that’s how it is.

Jarin Chu: It’s a lot of entrepreneurial skill.

Chris Glen: Exactly.

Jarin Chu: We’ve asked you to do a lot of reflecting, but if we look ahead again,

Chris Glen: Mm-hmm.

Jarin Chu: what are some of the things that might be on your career bucket list?

Chris Glen: Yeah. You know, I think, one thing that would be interesting for me is, you know, traditionally I’ve gone into companies that are, you know, in the growth stage, right? So they’ve, they’ve been, you know, like kind of, to a point where they have had established systems architectures for a while.

And the mandate has been for, you know, for me to come in and, you know, build a team around it and, you know, get, get things on rails and, you know, get, get, get things to a scalable place where, you know, a company feels like, oh yeah, maybe if we wanna go public, maybe if we wanna be purchased, if we wanna just keep growing as a private company, you know, those things are, are options.

And, and that’s been great. And if I continue doing that for the rest of my career, I will be a happy camper. But I think it’s also a, you know, a really interesting challenge to go into a company that is so new that you’re building it from scratch, and you can, learn a whole new set of lessons the hard way.

By doing things wrong. But you can also implement a lot of the lessons you’ve already learned about the things that go wrong five years down the road if you don’t make the right decision, to start. So I think that’s number one for me is someday, that might be an interesting challenge.

Jarin Chu: I would say that a brand new startup often feels like raising a child, from, from their baby stages. You’ve gotta. A 10 month old, you’ve got a wide purview of responsibilities. What do you do to recover and unwind from just the amount of brain work you need to do in your workday?

Chris Glen: Yeah. Well, being in Colorado, I  am contractually obligated to say spending time outside, is a big part of my routine, which is true. It’s not. No one paid me to say that. But, but that’s, that’s definitely at the top of my list. I think getting, getting time in the fresh air, whether it’s hiking, walking, just enjoying the, you know, better than average weather we have here is, you know, is really important.

And the, the other side of it is just, you know, spending time with, my son, you know, my wife and I, just like the, the thing that we marvel at, which I think is everyone knows, but you don’t like know till you’re in the middle of it, is how in the moment, kids are. And so you can be wrapped up in work stuff, personal stuff, you know, the moment before you start playing with your, your kid, and then all of that changes, the minute, you know, he starts running around and saying crazy stuff and all that.

So that, that is to be super rewarding and it’s, it, it really helps, end the day usually.

David Carnes: So do you have one of those backpacks? That he can fit in so you guys can go out adventuring.

Chris Glen: Not yet. We might get that soon, or he’s, he’s walking. So, it might just be, you know, trial by fire. Let’s start, let’s start going on family hikes.

David Carnes: I think that sounds great. So Chris, what resources do you turn to for your learning?

Chris Glen: Yeah. As I said earlier, learning by doing is the place I always start, and that’s not to say that there aren’t resources that, you know, you know, anyone can go to get better at something before they start trying to do it. But for me, the best way has always been to identify a problem. So I wanna make a report, you know, work better or I want to.

Look at a flow in Salesforce, or I want to, you know, try to update a formula field and try, try to do it myself, inevitably run into issues and then seek out answers. And so, you know, stack overflow trail, you know, Trailhead for Salesforce, you know, tho those sorts of things and, you know, pretty much anything is Googleable.

But you don’t, what I’ve found is that if you start by searching those things, you, you know, you miss a lot of the nuance. Then if you start by actually, you know, with the problem in mind, trying to solve that problem. So I, you know, I, I think that’s sort of how I think about it.

David Carnes: I think that’s a really good point and you can often find a lot of wrong ways to do it by Googling as well. Yeah, iis there anyone else that you think might be a good fit for, for the podcast?

Chris Glen: Great question. So my first manager in, business systems. I think is, it’s always worth a, a shout out. Her name is, Maggie Stk. She was at Palantir. She’s at Google now. She, she taught me pretty much everything I know about, people management, which I, I think is, is, you know, probably, like I said earlier, probably the most important part of my job.

She always did things the right way. She always was great about planning and making sure we finish things. She’s just, she’s tremendous. And so I’ll shout her out.

David Carnes: Well, that’s an endorsement. Fantastic. Chris, where can people find you? Are you on LinkedIn or another social media platform?

Chris Glen: I am on LinkedIn. I do not create content yet, though. I may, I may someday, but yeah, everyone can find me on LinkedIn.

David Carnes: How can somebody learn more about Invicta?

Chris Glen: Our, our website, is a great place to start. We post, on LinkedIn actually, and other platforms, a lot of kind of blogs, thought pieces, articles, about any of a number of security related topics. And so I, you know, we welcome everyone when you see those, to click into them and learn a little more.

It’s not, it’s not always just about inv. It’s oftentimes about the wild world of AppSec, which is, always changing, always challenging, and, always very interesting.

David Carnes: So, Chris, it’s really been a pleasure to have you on the podcast today. I’ve learned a lot, listening to your very thoughtful answers, and we’re just so glad that you, we, we had you come join us.

Chris Glen: Thank you. It’s, it’s been great talking to both of you as well.

Jarin Chu: And as usual, we wanna thank everyone who stayed with us in the last 40, 50 minutes. Listen to many of Chris’s gems, many metaphors. I still think CPQ has open heart surgery might be my favorite. And if you learned something today or laughed at one of our silly metaphors, please tell someone about the podcast and, subscribe in your favorite podcasting app.

Thank you again, Chris, for being on the podcast today,

Chris Glen: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Jarin Chu: and this has been another exciting episode of RevOps Rock Stars. See you next time.

David Carnes: Stay classy rock stars.

Brian Waterson

about the author

Brian Waterson

As Senior Director of Operations, Brian’s job is to ensure that his colleagues in Marketing, Sales, Delivery, and Finance have the systems, tools, and processes they need to excel in their daily work. For him, the role is most rewarding when he is enabling the rest of the company to do their job even better. 

His Salesforce career spans about a decade, split almost equally between client-facing consulting work and internal system administration and product ownership. Like many people, Brian fell into Salesforce work accidentally and was quickly hooked. Some of you may remember him from his previous days at OpFocus in 2013-2017 where he worked with many fantastic clients.

Brian holds a BA in International Relations from Boston University and a MA in International Conflict Studies from King’s College London.

For Brain, one of his favorite Salesforce features is Analytics CRM (formerly TableauCRM / Einstein Analytics / Wave.) Compared to standard Salesforce dashboards, he feels it provides much more flexibility when visualizing and joining data. It has been great to introduce it into the OpFocus product mix!

We often forget that it is now Salesforce, but he is also a huge fan of Slack. Brian is excited to see how Salesforce better integrates the two platforms in future releases.