Gilt Senior Manager, Business Systems Patrick Richardson shares some of his favorite tools for getting things done. Add these to your own toolbox, then send us your feedback on what works for you. We’re always looking for ways to improve, so your experiences matter to us!
The mission of Gilt’s Business Systems Management team is to guide the process of matching technology and process solutions to business needs, so that the team can achieve the highest possible ROI in technology and levels of efficiency. Our customers are our coworkers: As such, we focus on finding internal tools and building systems to help us discover business opportunities, design solutions, educate the rest of the company on how our business systems and processes work (or should work!), and document and communicate changes.
For getting our work done, my team and I depend on these tools:
I begin each workday by opening four applications: my email, my calendar, Atlassian’s JIRA, and JackDB. The first three should be familiar to anyone working in PMO or an Agile Tech organization. JackDB, however, may not be as familiar to you. It should be!
JackDB is a browser-based SQL-query tool that makes it incredibly easy for anyone at any technical level to quickly access your company’s databases and make data-driven decisions. I’ve used similar applications in the past, but have found JackDB to be, by far, the easiest to use. And as a bonus, our Security Team at Gilt loves its two-factor authentication, role-based access, and system audit logging features.
Use JackDB to quickly research data, such as the number of purchase orders by buy type for a particular division in the last six months.
Like other BSMs I know, I’ve tried about a half dozen applications for drawing process documents during my career, and still haven’t found the perfect tool. LucidChart comes pretty close. It’s web-based, so there’s nothing to install – and I can easily use it when working from home. It’s collaborative, so my team can share diagrams and comment on each others’ work. It’s affordable, so there’s not a huge hit to your budget. And it makes switching incredibly friction-free by allowing you to import your Visio or Omnigraffle documents.
LucidChart makes its product so useful, that it’s practically impossible for you to not give it a try.
Use LucidChart to diagram current-state and future-state processes so that you can educate your peers, highlight areas of change, and show the business impacts of these changes (such eliminating or introducing new steps in the creative process that create efficiencies).
Nearly every day I encounter an assumption about how a particular tool or system works. The assumption can come from a business stakeholder, an engineer, the application support team, or even myself. As a subject matter expert on our proprietary ERP system, it’s my job to understand and educate people on how our tools work. But it can be difficult to stay current when we’re constantly updating and writing new code to keep up with evolving business needs. So when in doubt, I use OpenGrok to go directly to the source code and tell the truth about what’s really going on. (If you’re in a BA or BSM role and don’t already have access to your source code, then stop reading RIGHT NOW and get it. Referencing the source code is highly valuable when discussing current state vs. future state, or when proving/disproving assumptions about how things work.
Use Opengrok to get to the truth about how code works, such as the attributes that determine how purchase orders are routed to your distribution centers.
When I initially proposed adding Google Analytics tags to our internal Admin system more than a year ago, I was greeted with mild skepticism. But it didn’t take much to convince the engineers on my team how valuable it is to understand just how our employees are using – or not using – specific tools. I primarily use GA to help prioritize maintenance tickets and build business cases to turn opportunities (for example, overhauling merchandising tools) into projects by looking at usage.
Use Google Analytics to determine the top-used tools in your Admin system ranked by page views and session duration.
As a BSM, it’s critical I have instant access to our data so I can quickly answer business stakeholder questions, research opportunities that’ll help fund our future, design technical solutions, or just satisfy my curiosity. Looker’s self-service reporting platform makes it easy to do that, and to share my findings with others throughout the organization by sending Looker URLs to reports and dashboards instead of Excel files. I’m able to duplicate a vendor dashboard of eight existing reports and share it with my team in less than a minute!
Use Looker to build reports and dashboards on inventory levels, sales history for products by condition code, and other aspects of your business of prime interest to your business stakeholders.