Developments that help make the world of work function faster and more efficiently are always welcome, and in the last 20 years, it’s fair to say that a significant amount of these have been software-based. Automated calendars, design suites and spell-checkers all exist to help people focus on the most demanding parts of tasks and give them their full attention. But who is making sure that software development teams themselves are being taken care of in the same way? 

When a business builds its own software, it’s crucial that it evolves in a way that supports the productivity of the people who are tasked with making improvements. Passenger keep staff productive, creative and happy by asking “What do you hate doing?” to pinpoint, address and remove pain points. 

Passenger has always taken an agile approach, releasing smaller updates more frequently and planning out work in two-week sprints. These are ideal for continually assessing and improving internal systems by identifying wasteful stages in a process. To avoid wasting energy or emotion on the things that people hate doing, asking the following questions can help ensure that engineers have the optimum task environment to work in. 

1) Can and should we speed this up?

By making small changes that ultimately result in a smoother, speedier development process, both the development team and your customers see the benefits. Developers are given more time to focus on complexities and overall you increase the speed you are able to deliver products from start to finish. Of course, this doesn’t mean attempting to work faster by cramming more in and consuming more energy. It means creating space for deeper reflection on challenges, considering how work can be done more effectively.

2) Can we do less to do more? 

Productivity is fundamentally about getting more value to our customers. But that’s why productivity is best when it’s combined with efficiency. It’s not just about getting the job done more quickly, but facilitating focus to produce a quality product. By automating repeating tasks and reducing interruptions, engineers are given space and time to give their full attention to delivering elegant and effective solutions. Obviously, there is a balance to be struck when automating tasks, lest the time spent automating ends up exceeding the time saved.

Webcomic by xkcd

Finding the perfect balance of speed, efficiency and productivity can mean spending time on work that may have little effect on your customer or end-user but prioritises improving the engineering environment for your staff.

‘Excellence’ is one of Passenger’s company values –  in both how they work and what they create. To reflect this, Passenger recently shipped all the steps required to automatically build datasets for myTrip, their multi-operator app and website platform. These are now automatically built, based on what is uploaded directly to Passenger’s Open Data Hub for each operator in myTrip. This makes the onboarding process for myTrip faster, smoother and removes unnecessary steps and time-sink tasks. 

Passenger CTO Dave Hulbert says “By regularly reflecting on the way our teams work, we have space and time to make continuous improvements. This is critical as we scale to support the data of the majority of bus operators in the UK in our platform”.

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