Operations centers: If you build it will they come?

An operations center is a major investment with many considerations, especially in the wake of shifting resources to accommodate hybrid work. Whether you’re exploring an operations center to streamline your footprint and better serve new and prospective consumers, recruit and retain top talent – or a little bit of both – executives want to know if the investment will be worth it.

While there are no crystal balls, there are ways to anticipate the future and determine the appropriate investment. As outlined in a recent whitepaper compiled by La Macchia Group, building an operations center requires a solid strategic plan that leverages critical information derived from internal projections as well as third-party expertise.

What we found, and have experienced firsthand, is that strategic planning is more important for large-scale builds than perhaps any other project, and data-backed decision making is often the key differentiator between successful and unsuccessful projects.

Strategy, Culture, and Scale

When considering an operations center, there are many factors that should be layered into a detailed analysis in order to reach the best outcome and highest return on investment. There are hundreds of small decisions that need to be made, however there are three primary categories of considerations that an executive team should hone in on when planning for future operations center needs: strategy, culture and scale.

  • Strategy: Strategy is an organization’s goals and plan of action for a specific time horizon, where the organization wants to be and how it plans to get there. By outlining a financial institution’s strategic vision, its executive team can better determine if and how an operations center will help achieve that vision.
  • Culture: Perhaps one of the most overlooked considerations of an investment in an operations center is organizational culture. Research suggests that there are eight consistently definable culture types across organizations that are aligned around two axes: people interactions and response to change. Where your organization lines up in terms of people interactions and response to change can and should have a tremendous impact on how you plan for a prospective operations center.
  • Scale: Scale might be the simplest part of pre-planning considerations, yet it can have the greatest impact on the overall project. Starting your planning process with a clear, aligned scale – a timeline, and outline of investment and organizational impact – will make many other decisions along the way significantly easier.

The next steps are to take the guidepost considerations of strategy, culture and scale into a formal discovery and planning process that puts your organization on the right path to navigate future needs that can be met by an operations center.

Analyzing Internal Data

Every good plan starts with an honest assessment of the current conditions. The critical first step is benchmarking where you are. In this stage, it is important to be as honest and objective as possible.

When developing data-driven insights, consider financials, existing and desired employee conveniences (like commute times), existing facilities, and the market you’re in. Once this foundation is established, it’s time to start considering the future. Leveraging historical trends can actually help predict the future. Look back at how you have grown as an organization over the last five, 10 and 20-year periods. Specifically examine the number of administrative employees you’ve had relative to your asset size and customers in those time periods. You’ll likely start to see some pattern of asset and employee growth. Leveraging these metrics, you can set trend lines to define growth scenarios for the future.

Additionally, ask your department heads to give their recommendations on what positions they currently have and what positions they think they will need over the next three to 15 years. Once you have both the trend analysis and department head recommendations, see how well they align over time. If they’re close, you can feel confident in your estimate of how many employees you will need – and what space you will need to house them.

Analyzing External Data

In addition to looking internally at the key metrics that will help you determine whether an operations center will be a wise investment, it’s also important to consider external factors, namely specific market conditions. After you define your market – a neighborhood, city or region – it’s time to get to work to fully understand it in order to know how you can fit into it and attract and retain those who reside there.

The size of a market and its demographics can determine much about how you should position yourself within it. For example, in a large metropolitan area, drive times are going to be larger and access to public transportation may be more important than access to a freeway.

It’s also critical to understand the real estate conditions of the market. In your market, look for pockets of similar buildings to the type and size you need. Identify if there are opportunities for purchasing an existing building that may fit your needs, or land that is available. Identify lease rates and ranges over a variety of classes to assist in calculations for deployment strategies. Examine vacancy rates for similar types of buildings that you will need to help set an exit and deployment strategy.


If you’ve completed a diligent planning process, you now have the data and insights to determine the right path forward. Should you decide an operations center is a sound investment, there are options available to best serve your needs and maximize your investment: lease, purchase and renovate or build new.

The planning process is intended to bring as much information forward into the decision making process as possible, allowing your leadership team to make an informed decision that aligns with your organization’s goals and objectives. With this information in hand and deployment decisions made, it’s time to move on to the fun stuff, designing the new space!

Tom Kennedy

Tom Kennedy

Tom Kennedy is President of La Macchia Group, the trusted development partner of more than 400 financial institutions across the nation. Through its proven methodology of Plan – Brand – Design – Build – ... Web: www.lamacchiagroup.com Details