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From Putting Out Fires To Preventing Them

Personal Growth
Health / Stress / Burn-Out

17 May, 2018

Shyam Sundar
Shyam Sundar

VP Engineering at Proofpoint

Shyam Sundar discusses how he was able to move his company from being reactive to issues to being proactive about them.

Problem

When I took up the role of VP of Engineering at Le Tote, there was a period of time where we were experiencing a lot of operational issues. We were putting out a lot of fires, and people were constantly being paged in the middle of the night, as the founders would start going through the call log hoping someone would pick up. This wasn't a very efficient system.

Actions taken

A lot of start-ups face a similar situation. One of the first steps I took was to try to help them to understand the value of using metrics that could inform them both about the business and key system health parameters. Getting visibility of these things helps to give people a better understanding of what's going on and, more importantly, helps you to move from the world of reactive work to the world of proactive work. It's much better to track metrics to know when something is trending south so you can take preventative measures to prevent bad outcomes. I started out with measuring five key system health and business metrics and then showed them how to easily integrate with the system so they would have visibility. This was really important to drive change.

Lessons learned

The less friction there is preventing people from embracing change, the more people will be open to it. By measuring the metrics and providing a simple way to integrate them with the system, I was able to reduce the number of operational issues my company was facing.

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