Design & Technology March 29, 2016
What Is Digital Operations Services (DOS)?
As we move towards a Scrum Process Framework for our Digital Operations Services (DOS) team, we thought it would be good to outline what DOS means for us.
At Dept, the DOS team is always striving to evolve, but our raison d’être remains helping clients with two key priorities:
- Keeping their websites constantly live (and fixing it quickly should they do go down).
- Maintaining and improving the quality of websites, apps and systems.
To make this happen, we work proactively with our clients on their digital activities in a range of ways. We support the ongoing quality of their sites and systems through: bug fixes; improvements; development of new features; implementing best practices; issue management; monitoring and reporting, and content support.
Return on Investment
In today’s fast-paced, digital world, many enterprises acknowledge that they must invest in digital in order to compete. However, the large, up-front investment that organisations make in their digital estate all too often fails to reach its full potential. Common hurdles include: the struggle to get buy-in from the rest of the business; management of unintegrated legacy systems, and the challenge of gaining and maintaining the knowledge required to get the most out of their investment.
At Dept, DOS is about providing the expertise and resources to maintain and develop our clients’ digital platforms. Working closely with clients, DOS aims to deliver meaningful ROI in a fast and efficient way.
How We Work
Every client works differently and has different requirements, so with new clients we begin with a period of familiarisation and investigation. This enables us to establish a strong working relationship early on, and be transparent about key responsibilities, priorities, SLAs, and what will happen in the event of a crisis. It also allows us to get up-to-speed with a client’s systems, understand what is needed, and what the unique challenges are.
The team is made up of senior and junior developers, a QA analyst and content editors, each with a broad range of skills and backgrounds. This overlap of skillsets and experience levels means that we always have the right people for the job. If we happen to need support on front-end or extra help with testing, we can enlist Dept’s Experience Design or Quality Assurance team.
The way the team works is cohesive and collaborative. Daily standup meetings keep everyone on the same page about overnight issues, impediments and planned work.
Each client is assigned a lead developer who is responsible for that codebase, and acts as the technical point of contact. However, knowledge is shared across the group so that it won’t be lost to holidays or a team change.
Team members are actively encouraged to ask questions, and seek help from the wealth of knowledge and experience that we have access to within DOS and the wider Dept team.
Record & Report
Other key functions of Digital Operations Services include recording and reporting. This means that we:
- Keep a clear, concise and useful record of everything we do, so that we can refer back to past issues, logs and releases as required.
- All issue tickets are kept updated and releases come with full notes to ensure any problems or special procedures are known and accommodated.
- Create technical and content wikis and guides detailing how to approach tasks, updates and content editing.
- Produce regular reports showing how the client’s digital estate is performing, and how we are performing at managing it. This includes site performance, issue resolution times, and measuring impact on ROI.
Cycles of Improvement
Recently we have begun a gradual shift to a Scrum Process Framework. This is primarily about using an agile approach that focuses more on meeting business needs and delivering products/improvements that make a meaningful impact on ROI.
The Scrum principles of creating value through flexibility, clear communication and collaboration suit the way DOS already works. We feel that using Scrum will help us as the team expands, and offer our global clients greater efficiency.
Digital Operations Services Manager, Libby Childs, says “It’s about cycles of improvement. Scrum can help us to think more carefully about delivery, making use of sprints and set releases to be more efficient and effective. At the same time, what we learn from each cycle feeds into the next one, creating continuous improvement. This, in turn, allows clients to demonstrate results and get further buy in from the wider business stakeholders.”
Since Scrum has a focus on ‘stories’ (information which captures the description of a feature or fix a stakeholder requires, acceptance criteria and the reason for the request), it also helps us to work with clients on getting to the heart of what their users need. This means that the real requirements of a fix or new feature can be captured more easily.
Evolving to Meet the Challenge
Like all of Dept’s teams, DOS face the challenge of a very fast-paced working environment, with many moving parts and people relying on us to deliver.
Since we handle any issues that arise, as they arise (as well as ongoing work), we can’t be 100% certain what we are going to face every day and, for us, this is what keeps things interesting!
As the team grows and evolves and we implement and test new ways of working, meeting these challenges and producing quality solutions for our clients will continue to be what drives us.