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Miguel Barba
Miguel Barba

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Rational Operationalization

This post was originally published here.

My first contact with support happened early in my career. I was part of a team that, amid other jobs, would operationalize procedures for an operations team to execute. It didn't take long to realize that the lower the automation level, the higher the probability for the operations team make a mistake. Several factors contributed to this:

  1. The operations team worked in shifts, 24x7, and always with a high churn rate (there was always someone leaving or joining the team);
  2. This team's elements had lower qualifications and a low knowledge of the business or its rules (they weren't supposed to);
  3. The operations team executed procedures from several support teams (my team was just one among many), and therefore they didn't know the procedures in detail, how they were implemented or what were they for;
  4. The procedures with the higher number of steps and actions to perform were far more error prone and to address this point, automation was essential;
  5. The way the procedures were implemented and made available to the operations team had a correlation with the number of errors recorded, for example: to execute a script through a command line is more complex than to execute the exact same script by clicking a button in some dashboard; to send an email with a short description of the procedure isn't the same as making available an operational manual for the same procedure;

No less important here was our posture towards who made the mistake. In an initial stage, we almost only placed the blame in the operations team. Fortunately, we didn't take long to realize that wasn't the right way. Instead we made the only logical decision: to understand why the error had occurred (and hey, lots of times it was our problem!), how to correct it, to effectively correct it and, last but not least, to pass and explain the changes to the operations team so that they may execute the procedure properly.

Nowadays the errors still occur and they will keep occurring in the future but they are less frequent and we face them in a perspective of continuous improvement.

Photo credit: Armando G Alonso ✈︎ via VisualHunt / CC BY-NC-SA

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