Earlier this year, we wrote about how 2022 was going to be the year of agile operations. That’s even more true now, because of the way market dynamics have changed everything and thrust a new level of importance onto ops teams. Companies find themselves having to do more with less, and that makes people nervous.
But we’ve been working with companies to help them figure out and better prioritize their operations for a long time, and one thing’s for certain: This is exactly the time for ops teams to step up and show what they can do.
The mother of innovation
The saying goes that necessity is the mother of invention. That may be true. But similarly, adversity is the mother of innovation. When seemingly intractable challenges smack you in the face, you have to do something.
Not everyone is able to do this. Some people go on salvage missions, just looking for ways to ensure their companies survive. But others innovate their way through choppy waters. You would never wish for hardship, of course, but the truth is, adversity presents an opportunity to push yourself to find better and smarter ways of doing things.
Now is one of those times. And the best thing organizations can do right now to that end is invest in you: operations teams.
You may need to give the decision makers in your organization a bit of a push to invest in operations teams, but it shouldn’t be a difficult sell. If you really think about it, ops is always all about doing more with less. It’s what ops teams do: They find ways to help their organizations become really, really efficient. They find smarter ways of doing things. And they make everyone they work with better at their job by ensuring that processes and systems put people first and empower them to do their best work.
This is more important now than ever.
But it comes down to more than just convincing the higher ups to invest in you. Ops teams themselves need to take steps to seize the moment.
Here’s how to understand and approach this challenge.
Get back to first-principles thinking
When it’s stormy outside, and things feel chaotic, you regain calm by returning to your fundamentals, your ground truths, your core understandings. The best ops teams don’t merely look at a current process and edit from there—they dig all the way to the bottom to understand the purpose of the thing we’re trying to solve for. You can build up from there.
The power of that first-principles thinking is evident not just when it comes to the various tasks, workflows, and problems you have to address; you should apply the same thinking to ops’ role in general. Ask what and ask why, and continue to do so until you find the heart of it.
What is the fundamental purpose of ops teams? Creating a work environment where everyone is empowered to focus on what matters most today.
Your watchwords should be “agile” and “adaptive.” We’ve seen what an agile development process has done for product teams, and we’ve seen what it does for project management. But you can make your entire organization agile—every team, every person.
In a truly agile organization, anyone and everyone can come up with solutions to problems and iterate on ideas and solutions quickly, implement feedback, and repeat until they’ve arrived at the most effective version of that solution.
This method allows every person to bring their best and most creative work to the mission of your organization and the challenges it faces. It makes your company adaptive, and when there’s uncertainty in the market, adaptability is one of the most powerful qualities you can hope to possess.
You need the right tools to create an agile environment. For a long time, those simply did not exist—but that’s changed. Now, the fundamental tools for operations teams are here: composable software, no-code automation, and process orchestration.
A platform like Tonkean wraps these capabilities into one platform designed specifically for operations teams. With Tonkean, ops teams can create software using pre-made “building blocks” of business capabilities. They’re modular, interchangeable, and reusable, and when you stack them together, you can make full-blown software solutions. It’s a fast and easy way to make the solutions you need, including automating tasks and processes.
Tonkean effectively sits a layer above your applications and data and allows you to execute, monitor, and manage entire business processes across teams and existing systems.
Such a platform can give anyone in your organization the ability to create and edit bespoke software solutions to meet whatever needs arise.
Ops teams: focused and responsible
The next step is to be proactive and focus; companies need to think carefully about where they’re going to spend their money and time.
Resource allocation has never been more important. Leaders bear a tremendous amount of responsibility as they go about reshaping their organizations.
Operations teams are the people who are best suited to help facilitate and guide those decisions. And in assuming responsibility over this particular task, operations teams themselves need to be responsible with the advice they offer and changes they implement—and the ways in which they go about doing so.
As you work to make workflows and processes extremely efficient, you have to keep people at the center of everything. Organizational efficiency is human efficiency. And the best work is always done by humans who feel empowered to do great work and have the tools they need to do it.
Too often, manual and inefficient processes take away people’s agency, time, and happiness. Chasing down workarounds, manually updating data, and other tedious and effortful tasks that don’t have clear personal value for employees result in unhappy people. Unhappy people don’t perform well, and they don’t stick around forever.
When you look to solve process problems, you have to be empathetic to those people and think carefully about creating people-centric workflows—not just cold, maniacal efficiency.
So even as you find ways to do more with less, you should be looking for ways to empower your people to be more successful, not just squeeze them harder or treat them like automatons. You can and should measure the impact of automation solutions by how meaningfully they optimize the people your workflows guide and inform.
Ops teams: now is the time
It’s not always easy to make the case for ops, but really it is simple: You prove it by being critically valuable when your teammates need you the most. It’s not only about increasing efficiency and automating processes. You’re giving peace of mind—to your colleagues, your customers, and the decision makers in your organizations alike.
For ops teams, using the right tools, like a no-code platform that allows you to manage everything, gives you peace of mind, too. It gives you a full picture of what’s happening inside your shop so when problems arise, you can drill down and figure them out quickly.
This is a huge part of operating more responsibly, and that will be even more crucial in the face of the coming storm.
But fear not. You are built for times like these.
And we can help. Tonkean has handbooks and Blueprints for a number of common process orchestration tasks to help you get started.