This is an incomplete list of tasks that may be the responsibility of a COO. Help us build this out by adding any missing items in the comments section.

Business setup (if a new business)

  1. legal entity formation
  2. create & trademark logo
  3. licensing requirements
  4. office space lease negotiations / real estate purchase
  5. buy / lease office infrastructure (furniture / communications devices etc.)
  6. office setup
  7. create online presence


Systems implementation

  1. Process mapping
    1. map core functions of the business starting with processes that generate revenue.
    2. create procedure documentation
  2. Information organization
    1. create a shared file hierarchy that makes sense to everyone and assess access rights of the team
  3. Inventory management
    1. map out supplier / vendor relationships
    2. map out warehousing practices (quality control measures, security protocol etc.)
  4. Report management
    1. review reports to manage budgeting, sales forecasting etc.
    2. set reporting priorities with management team, identify key performance indicators (KPIs)
    3. set schedule for delivery and review of reports
  5. Emergency preparedness
  6. Create evacuation plan, emergency call trees etc.


Financial management (some of this may fall under a CFO’s role)

  1. Cash management
    1. set up and manage all business bank accounts, credit cards, debt etc.
    2. map cash inflows and outflows – assess need for control points
    3. implement accounting systems
    4. set up tax filing procedures
    5. manage bookkeeping services
  2. Secure financing / funding (usually in conjunction with CEO  / CFO)


HR management

  1. Review HR policies
    1. review reporting lines, create organizational chart and communicate to team
    2. review / create employee handbook for things related to PTO, sick leave, maternity & paternity policy,
    3. expense reimbursement etc.
    4. create and manage onboarding procedures, docs etc.
    5. benchmark pay / bonus policies relative to peers inside and outside organization
    6. review leadership and development programs
  2. Create performance review process for existing staff
    1. career objective setting, performance review templates etc.
  3. Recruiting
    1. map missing resources, assess budget, draft job descriptions and recruit new talent
  4. Manage payroll and benefits


Regulatory compliance & legal management

  1. Review and comply with all regulatory requirements for your business (HR, taxes, reporting requirements, insurance etc.)
  2. Create and execute legal contracts as necessary with vendors, employees, and investors


Manage the Board of Directors & Shareholders (with CEO)

  1. Take and archive board meeting minutes
  2. Draft and execute contracts with shareholders and board of directors


Editor’s note: Add more to the checklist via the comment section below.

Nicole Ballin

Author Nicole Ballin

Nicole is a serial entrepreneur who most recently co-founded and was COO of UpEnergy, a clean energy company in Uganda. She now provides COO advisory services to growing social enterprises.

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