Error Maturity: A Lesson in Transparency for Your Organization and Your People

Error Maturity: A Lesson in Transparency for Your Organization and Your People | Stack Moxie

As part of a look at how communication serves to benefit your team’s trust, especially related to errors and outages, it’s important to view error maturity as its own (though related) component to be evaluated and optimized. Along with a process for reporting errors to employees and customers, a mature organization also has  a list of errors that acknowledges their existence and helps ensure you’re monitoring potential issues with each new release. The ultimate catharsis of the green check mark, this list provides a guide for you to use and check off as it’s completed. 

Errors are an inevitable part of MOPs, but they don’t need to be a recurring hindrance to your processes and teams. Advancing error maturity is an often overlooked aspect of an organization, but giving it attention not only benefits your company, but also the people who help it run. 

Look at this project as an investment in your future success—the more you put into it now, the easier avoiding future outages will be. Otherwise, each error will come with a host of delays and resource requirements that subtract from the greater success of the company. With that in mind, advancing your organization’s error maturity involves several different parts that enable you to efficiently communicate your errors and continually build transparency. 

Implementing a Ticketing System

Errors aren’t pleasant, and the way they’re dealt with makes all the difference in how they will (or won’t) continue to affect your team down the line. In the moment, it can seem like the best course of action when faced with a problem is to resolve it and get back on track as quickly as possible. In this pursuit of quick fixes, it can seem counterproductive to put energy into having a solid process solely for dealing with issues—why focus on them when we should be trying to prevent them? 

But the fact is, #FailsHappen, and acknowledging them is a big part of advancing your error maturity. When an incident happens, create a system that lets you implement a permanent solution, rather than a temporary bandaid. By doing so, you’re all but guaranteeing that most errors get fixed and stay fixed, which means your team will be free to work on things that add actual new value to your organization. Looking one year, five years, or ten years into the future, the company that prioritized error maturity will have greater expansion and development than the company that chose to patch solutions together and keep refixing. 

In order to efficiently achieve error maturity, a ticketing system that teams can use to report errors as they’re identified is necessary to help solve them in a timely manner. This takes communication-level work off of your plate by directing people away from simply sending an email or Slack message to alert you—multiply this one notification by the number of people who try to report an error on each team and for each project, and you would spend your entire day fielding these messages instead of fixing the problem. 

Hand-in-hand with a ticketing system, you should also include a service-level agreement related to expected response time that makes it easier on your team and others to plan ahead—add it to your list of published SLAs so everyone has it on hand. Operations teams are tasked with handling a constant flow of requests from other teams relying on their help. Having clear guidelines about how long something should take helps both you and the people waiting on the fix, so it’s a win-win. On your side, you’ll deal with less conflict and confusion about why something takes as long as it does and can focus on getting problems solved. Meanwhile, the other teams relying on you can better understand your timeline to set expectations for their own deadlines. Clearly communicated priorities help back these SLAs up and give context to why something takes the amount of time it does. 

Your ticketing system also acts as your tool to validate and justify capacity for your team, and is highly informative when it comes time to decide if new hires need to be made in order to hit company goals. With your SLAs as a benchmark of how quickly things should be accomplished, your organization can decide if current capacity is sufficient or if another team member is required to meet the company’s needs. By simplifying this process of understanding what your team needs to succeed, it’s infinitely easier to get your managers the support that will help them perform better and enjoy their work a lot more. It empowers each person to use the ticketing system as an advocate for their hard work and benefit from it, and identifies holes that you can fill to help the company hit its goals. Determining exactly how many additional people you need becomes almost mathematical when you line up current capacity with your OKRs, and the process is smooth and painless. 

The Benefits of a Company-Wide Ticketing Platform

As marketing and revenue operations people, part of the fun is all of the unique technologies we get to own and use outside of standard company platforms. Making the choice to tap into a shared platform to manage tickets can seem counterintuitive to this—why should your team want to move into the same space that everyone else uses? But there are a lot of benefits to choosing to go this route; for one, it ensures that your team gets a seat at the table that other teams ( IT, engineering, and C-suite) are already sitting at together, and you get the opportunity to have a say in broader company processes. Marketing and revenue operations teams also tend to be underappreciated compared to the value they’re bringing to the organization on a day-to-day basis. By joining forces with these other teams, it’s far easier for leaders to see how critical you are on the IT side, and with this knowledge you’re afforded a great deal more strategic visibility, which is a win for everyone. 

Special Mention: Roll Back Capability 

When you introduce a new integration or change your process, things don’t always work out as expected. Sometimes things go wrong, and it can be helpful to have the ability to quickly roll back to a set of data that functions. You can make fixes from there, and damage is minimized for your users and adjacent teams. 

While roll back functionality is common practice on the more traditionally technical side of the company, few marketing tools are designed with this capability. There are a couple different reasons for this, but a good portion of it lies in the fact that it’s just difficult to build. Depending on the organization, different teams would want different qualities in such a feature—for example, what exactly do you store, and for how long? Right now, marketing technology is by and large focused on getting the job done, not ostensibly improving it in the way that a roll-back function would. 

Hubspot has a very basic ability to “undelete” certain elements for a set length of time after getting rid of them, which could count as a form of roll-back capability. Overall though, rolling-back from a data perspective is aspirational for many teams. Nevertheless, reaching a point where you have an architected roll-back plan that fits into all of your different systems should be seen as a goal to work towards because of the tremendous benefits it brings when it comes to handling errors.

Error maturity can often be overlooked as an important part of your company’s maturity growth, but it comes with its own set of best practices that can make or break other parts of your maturity journey, like transparency and communication. Having a clear process for incidents and a well-defined way to document and handle them works to build trust, encourage communication, and understand capacity. Starting where you are now and finding ways to implement these strategies will go a long way in helping you and your team perform better, and enables surrounding teams to do their best work as well. 

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