Learn about Workflow Optimization
Increase team productivity and reduce customer friction
Cosmos exists to improve the way people work.
We do that through Workflow Optimization, a service we've developed for businesses and nonprofits to make their teams more productive and to reduce friction with customers and clients.
Cosmos quickly and carefully assimilates into a business to study its teams, customers, clients, and partners. We break that research down into the systems that drive the business: the actors (people), the workflows (processes), and the priorities (measurable business goals). Then we build and integrate software to optimize those workflows. We measure the impact of the software each week and evolve it in response to measurements, feedback from actors, and the needs of the business.Problems Solved with Workflow Optimization
Problems Solved with Workflow Optimization
Since 2018, we've partnered with clients to tackle various problem spaces.
Workflows Simplify Complex Systems
Workflow Optimization marries systems thinking and design thinking with computer science and software engineering to solve a wide array of business problems with software.
The heart of what we do is simplifying workflows within businesses by clearly defining their inputs, their outputs, and the roles that perform them. We remove ambiguity, get agreement on goals, and develop software to make everyone's work easier and more organized.
Approach to Workflow Optimization Projects
Our engagements range from research-and-design focused projects that deliver solution specifications to guide existing teams, to new products or companies for which we must develop and integrate software against aggressive launch schedules. Our highest value engagements involve partnerships with operations leaders. Cosmos manages a continuous cycle of research, design, and development of software to optimize whatever parts of the business are most critical to its success.
Phases & Deliverables
All projects receive the rigorous implementation of our method, as well as our commitment to transparency and precision. Each contain some subset of the following phases:
We research and define the problem space and create a shared language for your team and Cosmos to communicate about it. Actors, roles, and workflows coalesce into the goals & supporting objectives, which we meet to establish consensus on before creating the roadmap priorities that drive development.
- Actors — the specific people and organizations that make up the systems we research.
- Roles — the duties that actors take on inside the system (e.g. an Airline Pilot is a role that a specific actor can play). Actors can perform many roles, and a role can have many actors.
- Workflows — the discrete processes that actors perform to do work and to interact with other actors and the system.
- Goals & Supporting Objectives — a set of goals and measurable objectives that will guide the design, development, and delivery of the system's product features.
- Roadmap Priorities — prioritized scopes of work, which represent the rough order of capabilities we’ll develop to deliver the system in the context of the goals.
Cosmos executes upon the Roadmap Priorities agreed upon in the previous phase. The goal is to incrementally design, develop, and deliver features while continuously measuring their impact on the Goals.
- Timeline — we create accurate forecasts for a couple of weeks of work activities in each stage of our service. But, much like the fog of war, anything beyond that 2-week horizon becomes murky because our weekly learnings inform our next activities. The historic horizon is always available, with links to the resources we have created.
- Interviews, Research, Designs, & Assorted Assets — all of our work assets are always available to partners. They are organized in a shared drive and are linked to from our weekly plans.
- Weekly Plan — each week we produce a weekly work plan with a work horizon (snapshot of the timeline) that indicates our deliveries last week, any changes in the plan, our focus this week, and our predictions for the next week. We queue topics for our status call at the top of the plan.
- Weekly Status Call — we review our weekly work plan each week and discuss topics, risks, and progress toward the project's current goals. We also record notes from the call and any decisions we made or action items assigned.
- Software Products, Features, & Integrations — we continuously ship software to actors and aim to have a weekly delivery cadence (as feature scope and complexity allows). So, we try to break roadmap priorities into the most atomic functional chunks possible so that we can quickly get measurable feedback.
Software and systems are living things—we treat each system as mission critical and keep them healthy with flexible support agreements.
- Triaged Issues and Bug List - we maintain a list of any reported issues and determine if they are bugs (software not functioning as designed).
- Bug Fixes — we fix bugs.
- Weekly Status Call — we are available for the weekly status call to discuss any issues that have been reported, triaged, and determined to be (or not to be) bugs, as well as the status of any efforts to resolve bugs, and approval of any time beyond support hours.
- Infrastructure Monitoring — we monitor the infrastructure, primarily to assure that the infrastructure is appropriate for the application's needs over time.
- Software & Infrastructure Upgrades — software is a living thing, and there are frequent (almost monthly) software patches and upgrades to the many tools, dependencies, and infrastructure components that power and host the application. Delivering these upgrades sometimes means managing and communicating scheduled outages.
RD4M — The Cosmos Method
Cosmos approaches problem solving with a workflow that we've been designing and improving for years. We call it RD4M, short for Research, Define, Design, Develop, Deliver, Measure. It's not some mumbojumbo acronym we put on our marketing site, rather it's integral to the way we think and work.
Study the business, learn about its systems and workflows, interview the actors that perform them, inspect the environments in which they interact, and surface the problems within them
Define each workflow, actor, role, and problem; use these to define measurable goals and supporting objectives, then get consensus on the priority to build a roadmap
Design systems, features, integrations, lo-to-hi fidelity UI/UX designs, functional prototypes, and requirements that describe solutions to the problems we've identified
Create technical designs and develop them into software products and integrations that implement the solutions described in our requirements
Release the software to all users or to a gated cohort of users
Assess how the delivered solution performed against measurable goals and supporting objectives, and apply any feedback and insights to the next iteration of RD4M