Indie means independent. When an individual or a small group of people use their resources to develop an application or game without working under any organization, they are called indie developers. Often indie developers own a studio with a limited set of skilled people, and they work under their studio name. The chief operating officer (COO) is a senior executive position who looks after everyday operational functions and administrative tasks of the business. In the gaming industry, there is a concept that only big gaming companies hire a COO, not the indie studios that have a small number of employees and 1 to 2 projects. However, there is rising awareness about the importance of a COO role for companies aiming for growth, considering the vital role of a COO. Futurlab, the team behind PowerWash Simulator, hired its first COO, “Chris Meher.”
When to Hire a COO for Your Indie Firm?
COO is essential for every growing company, but when to hire a COO is important because it adds cost to the business. There are many factors to look upon when considering hiring a COO. Some are as follows:
When the Company Is Not Improving
The CEO or the company's founder starts the company with some goals. But as the company scales, the CEO gets diverted from his aim and starts spending more time managing tasks that are just important for survival and not improving the business.
As FuturLab started to grow, its employees increased from 20-50. Its CEO started feeling he was not spending time developing the creative game. He got busier managing more people. There he felt the need for a COO. A COO can be very helpful in taking care of everyday management tasks while the founder keeps his focus on his ambitions.
When the CEO Cannot Manage All Things
The CEO has a limited set of skills. He cannot be good at everything. He might be good at developing games because of which the company starts to flourish, but if the CEO is not good at managing the regular management jobs, the company will not be able to survive for long. Hence, to fill a gap in the skillset of a company, a COO comes into play. The COO makes sure the diversification of the organization does not overwhelm the CEO.
When James hired Meher, the company employees celebrated the move. That is because they saw this as things going out of James’s hands. There was a dire need for the person to manage operational and administrative tasks to run the company smoothly.
Also, the COO brings new ideas and experiences with him to the company, which can be very useful in taking the business forward successfully.
When It Is Needed to Strengthen the Leadership
The job of the COO is to understand the culture of the company and the ideology of its CEO. The COO has to take it forward to the employees. In short, the COO has to be an inspiration in the workforce. An influential COO shares the company’s purpose and communicates it to its workforce.
Recently, FuturLab hired new employees globally to meet the requirements. Many new employees started working remotely. FuturLab's COO, Chris Meher, played a vibrant role in explaining the ambitions and culture of the company to the new employees. Also, he made arrangements where old and new employees could meet up to better understand. Also, Chris Meher maintained close contact with all the employees so he could guide them if they had any problems.
For the Execution of Ideas and Managing Deadlines
The staff of the company might have amazing ideas. But the CEO cannot achieve or implement all the ideas alone. Hence, a COO can listen to such ideas and filter them before putting them in front of the CEO. Also, there come times when the company gets a short deadline to deliver the project to the client. The COO can be very helpful in such situations because they are experienced and closely in contact with the staff. Hence, they can delegate the task appropriately to the right employee according to his expertise.
James stated that his company once faced a time when he had to deliver two projects, and employees were not enough. At that difficult time, Chris Meher divided the work efficiently among the employees and motivated them enough that employees worked overtime happily.
It is important to properly organize, plan, and connect every aspect of an indie company. It is important to manage them smoothly without creating adverse friction as the business grows. This is how an intelligent COO can help a growing startup.