Who are Operators
When businesses confront tough challenges, they turn to Operators.
Operators are fueled by ingenuity and determination to make things happen. They have different titles — maybe Analysts, Program Managers, or Process Improvement Leads. Individually they have areas of specialty, but their impact transcends their specific roles.
Operators can get hard things done with few resources, but ironically, because of this, their plates quickly fill up with tedious make-work. This means less time is spent on work that helps fuel growth and innovation.
Why companies need Operators
Operators are required to solve thousands of different problems. For example:
- If you employ a lot of people, you probably have People Ops challenges involving wage and tax calculations in different jurisdictions.
- If you spend a lot of money on marketing, you probably also have Marketing Ops challenges around figuring exactly which platform and campaign brought you every customer.
Companies tend to solve problems by doing one of two things: devoting people specifically to that problem or hiring more engineers and data scientists. The first solution doesn’t work because it leads to siloed knowledge and burnout. The second one doesn’t work because while engineers may be great at building solutions that are rock solid, they aren’t as equipped to solve problems for dynamic use cases.
In fact, there are plenty of problems that Operators excel at solving that engineers are less equipped for. These problems are generally unique to the company, are fairly complicated, and change often. But when Operators rely on manual processes to solve problems, the solutions become difficult, if not impossible to scale. This leads us to the big problem Operators tend to wrestle with.
The problem for Operators
The big problem within Ops teams is entropy: Manual systems do what they need to, but they eventually begin to break down. The usual trajectory looks like this:
- Some process within the business breaks, and a team is created to fix it.
- Despite few resources, Operators devise a solution with ingenuity and elbow grease. They create a plan to maintain the solution process ongoing, which they do manually.
- Months go by…one or two of them leave the company, probably because their weeks are now full of manual work. The company trains replacements, but knowledge is lost in transition.
- Eventually something changes, the process breaks, and so the cycle restarts.
How Operators should work
Operators should work under four principles:
- Automate: The team should streamline repetitive processes in order to cut down on time and effort and minimize errors.
- Centralize: The data the team uses should pass through a centralized place in a standardized way so that everyone has access to the same information.
- Document: The team shouldn’t perform any process without documenting what it is, who it’s for, and why they’re doing it.
- Collaborate: The team should foster a culture of collaboration and take advantage of centralized data by working together in one place.
When these pillars are in place, the general trajectory of Ops teams moves toward order instead of chaos. The queue of repetitive daily tasks is emptied. Everything that previously took time to slog through is now handled, so a baseline of productivity is established. Without adding any more people, the rate of productivity compounds, and the nature of the team begins to transform.
What Operators can become
With compounding productivity, a team of Operators becomes a revenue driver rather than a cost center. This can transform a business. As your team’s rate of productivity increases, the way you think of Ops will change. Instead of simply keeping things running so that the tech team or marketing team can materially advance the agenda of the company, Ops teams will yield compounding benefits to the bottom line.
Your team will be more able and willing to collaborate with data from a single source of truth, and good ideas will begin to bubble up from team members all over your business. Because you have eliminated the thoughtless daily work that took hours out of their day, Ops teams will be empowered to make the meaningful impact on the business that they have been wanting to all along.
How we empower Operators
Parabola builds for the four principles of successful Ops teams.
- Automate: We’ve built a system that can automate any data workflow, no matter what data you start with.
- Centralize: There’s a central hub for Operators and IT teams to collaborate and standardize data. IT people don’t have to worry about data provenance, and Operators get quick access to what they need.
- Document: Any data workflow created within the Parabola tool is self-documenting — anyone can see exactly what happens to the data at every step.
- Collaborate: In Parabola, you can create interactive reports in Flow using a Parabola Table and share templates and workflows across your teams.
To read about how it works, see our Guide to Parabola: