Parabola is for Operators

Parabola is for Operators

Data tasks done faster, smarter, together

Set, share, and automate your team data workflows.

Who are Operators?

Every business solves certain problems by throwing people at them. Those people are Operators.

Operators work with ingenuity and a “get shit done” attitude. They have different titles, maybe “analysts,” “program managers,” or “process improvement leads.” Individually they have areas of specialty, but the business trusts and requires them to work outside those limits.

The irony of Operators: because they can get hard things done with few resources, their plates quickly fill up with tedious make-work. This is counterintuitive but true.

Why do you 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.

From a traditional perspective, these situations have nothing in common. But the solution is eerily similar. It involves paying smart people to make spreadsheets and then email them to each other.

What are Operators great at?

In many situations, Operators solve problems faster than engineers. Nobody needs to explain requirements to them - they’re the ones who created the requirements.

In fact, there’s a whole class of problem that engineers are badly equipped to solve, but Operators excel at. These problems are generally unique to the company, are fairly complicated, and change often.

But the solutions Operators come up with usually don’t scale. This leads us to the big problem Operators tend to wrestle with.

What’s the problem with Operators?

The big problem within Operator teams is entropy. The usual trajectory looks like this:

  • Some process within the business breaks, and a new team is created to fix it.
  • Despite limited resources, the Operators devise a solution with ingenuity and elbow grease. They write out a plan to maintain the solution process on an ongoing basis, which they do manually.
  • Months go by, and one or two of them leave the company, probably because their day is now full of manual work. They train replacements, but some knowledge is lost in the transition.
  • Eventually something changes and the process breaks, so the cycle restarts.

This trajectory bends toward chaos, which is why the Operator’s role is difficult.

How should Operators work?

Operators should live by 3 principles:

  1. Automate. The team shouldn’t perform any process just once. Any problem being addressed with a process will probably come up again.
  2. Centralize. The team should collaborate in one place, where they can see what every member is doing. The data they need should pass through this same place in a standardized way.
  3. Document. The team shouldn’t perform any process without documenting what it is, who it’s for, and why they’re doing it.

When these pillars are in place, Operators become much faster. The general trajectory of Operator teams will move towards order instead of chaos, and productivity will compound.

How does Operator productivity compound?

When the pillars of automation, centralization, and documentation are in place, 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.

Operators gain the freedom to actually improve the business day over day, and the things they do will raise that baseline of productivity for all the days to follow. Without adding any more people, the rate of productivity compounds, and the nature of the team begins to transform.

What can Operators become?

With compounding productivity, a team of Operators becomes a revenue driver, rather than a cost center. This alone can transform a business.

The way you think of Ops will quickly change. Instead of being a team of people entrusted with “keeping things running” so that the tech team, marketing team etc can materially advance the agenda of the company, Ops investments will yield compounding benefits to the bottom line.

Good ideas will begin to bubble up from team members all over your business, because people have eliminated the thoughtless daily work that took hours out of their day before. (This will result in less turnover, too.)

How can we empower Operators?

Parabola builds the 3 pillars of successful Operator teams.

  • Automate: We’ve spent five years building a system that can automate any data workflow, no matter what data you have at the beginning.
  • Centralize: There’s a central hub for Operators and the company IT team 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.

To read about how it works, see our Guide to Parabola.

Parabola is for Operators