Digital Productivity Pt. 1: The Birth of Dev Ops

Redefining Productivity


I’ve spent my fair share of time working documents through the corporate approval process at a number of companies, and what I've come to realize is that my understanding of productivity has been holding me back my entire life. I was always under the impression that productivity was measured by my work-output/time-spent ratio, but as it turns out, that has very little to do with how productivity is measured in the real world. Productivity, in its practical application, is measured by the number of people that can replicate your process and achieve a similar result. Somehow, over the course of the last decade or so, we've actually relabeled productivity into "scalability."

Over the course of this series, I'm going to undertake the task of trying to redefine your comprehension of productivity. Why? Because in the digital world, understanding that productivity and scalability are synonymous will help you make better decisions regarding your business's long-term sustainability with digital devices, applications, and marketing. If I can change your perspective on productivity, then I change your business philosophy on digital sustainability, and I can guarantee that's a good thing.

I spent the majority of my early years thinking of productivity in terms of my work output efficiency, which was fine, then I switched jobs and left my previous employers in a position of not having someone to pick up where I had left off (a common employer problem RTR Digital is trying to solve here), and I can't begin to describe the amount of bad blood (S/O Taylor Swift) that has been sent my way as a result. I've always found the amount of angst generated by my departure to be strange, it wasn't until much later that I figured out that it was because of the lack of documentation surrounding the processes I put in place, and any "productivity" lift that I had brought to the company also was leaving with me.

Work Smarter...Not Harder

So, how can I guarantee that changing your perspective on productivity will be a good thing? I'm sure you've heard the quote "work smarter...not harder," a phrase coined by Allan F. Mogensen in the 1930s, but what you may not have realized is that quote is "living." A "living" quote is spoken in relative terms, so it means something different depending on when it is spoken. In the 1930s, working smarter meant applying new levels of organization efficiency to corporations by documenting processes. Allan F. Mogensen, or Mogy for short, introduced and popularized flow charts in an effort to help simplify business processes, and at the time, that was the most advanced organizational tool available.

In 2017, the quote's intention remains intact, but because we have so much more available to us, its execution has dramatically changed. Today, the average project management software offers at least five different charts to track every aspect of productivity. My argument revolves around the theory that the documented productivity increases from deploying project management software, like Orangescrum (the application we use and deploy for customers), lies in their ability to force individuals to document their processes so they can be repeated, even in their absence. This is the reason RTR Digital encourages businesses of all sizes to invest in some sort of project management tool.

Project management tools are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to developing scalable business processes, because from a macro perspective, they are the equivalent to an essay outline. They focus on the completion of high-level objectives, but the details or how those objectives are completed still need to be determined. Projects consist of milestones; milestones consist of tasks; tasks consist of deliverables, and deliverables consist of documents and labor. When a business reaches a point when each of these phases has been documented and systematically designed, the business will be at maximum productivity. This level of productivity has become so aspirational for most companies that they developed entirely new process to achieve it - DevOps.

Introducing DevOps

Developmental Operations, more commonly known as DevOps, is a management process that is typically associated with software development, but I would argue that it applies to the development of any form of digital content (i.e. Agile management is very similar and is more broadly applied). For enterprises trying to adopt a "digital first" strategy, it's a necessity to understand the core elements of DevOps. The key to understanding this management style is acknowledging how much collaboration and teamwork are involved in software development, and how that development model is really an aspirational goal for any division, in any company. Let's take a look at some of the key requirements of successful software development.

  1. Collaboration - software features and code segments are divided between specialized coding groups, but still have to be interoperable in the final product, and this process involves collaboration between individuals that is unparalleled in other aspect of business.
  2. Speed - software applications have to be developed at a high rate of speed to keep up, or close, the competitive gap with other developers, resulting in numerous high-pressure deadlines being applied to the process.
  3. Accuracy - even though the product is developed at break-neck speeds, a single missed semicolon can cause the entire project to malfunction, so accuracy cannot be sacrificed for speed.
  4. Continuous Delivery - it's understood that the task is never-ending, so automation and improvements in the process are a part of the process itself.
When comparing the aspects of software development to something like a social media post, the logical assumption is they would be far from the same, but upon closer examination, you'll probably realize they have more in common than you thought. If you're managing social media correctly, you'll know that even the most basic informational post is highly coordinated between a number of positions...or at least it should be.

The graphics used in the post will have been designed by a graphic artist; the copy will have been written by the copywriter; marketing will have signed off on the call-to-action, and the analyst will have derived the optimal channel and time to post based on the data that has been collected. If that doesn't sound like the kind of collaboration going on at your company, you should definitely stay tuned for the rest of this series, and probably think about reaching out to us for a consultation. In Part II of this series, we'll be discussing how to pick a project management software, and why it's important to get expert advice in on the process.