At Productive Edge, innovation starts from within

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Transformation is in the air at Productive Edge.

The Chicago-based digital consultancy aims to propel its clients into the modern digital age. Sometimes it looks like team members developing machine learning tools to help pharmacies automate prescription reviews. Sometimes that means engineers kicking off new cloud infrastructure to help a regional health insurance payer build their virtual primary care practice. Sometimes that means creating customizable “white label” apps to more seamlessly integrate an organization’s health and wellness programs within established customer brands.

Either way, the Productive Edge team sees reinvention as a constant, as well as a core value.

This is currently the case on more fronts than at any other time in the fast-growing company’s 14-year history. Overall, a continued shift in its growth strategy will see the company focus even more on making progress in the interconnected health, wellness and insurance industries. Internally, employees accept change in other forms. For example, the built-in flexibility of the company’s hybrid workplace has allowed Productive Edge to stay ahead of its competition while allowing it to thrive as a globally distributed enterprise.

For Diana Maldonado, who is a project manager, product owner, and business analyst, all of these growth areas most speak to Productive Edge’s commitment to constant improvement and visionary thinking.

“As technology evolves, as society evolves, and especially as healthcare evolves, we strive to be at the forefront of all of these changes,” she said, “not only in the way we work with clients, but in the way we work”. internally.”

PE 3.0

As Productive Edge grows, the sky is the limit for which customers the company can support, said Chief Strategy Officer Raheel Retiwalla. Ultimately, he believes that all roads lead to health care, and that’s where a strategy called “PE 3.0” comes into play. Retiwalla’s growth strategy is to add more software solutions to the company’s digital consulting and engineering services and introduce healthcare-specific markets. “We deeply understand the challenges of the healthcare industry, both on the business and technology side, and we are a company that has aligned its people and offerings to solve the most pressing issues in this industry,” he said. . The internal program he recently launched to support this effort brings together subject matter experts from across teams to identify specific areas of opportunity.

Productive Edge team members working together on a project
Allison Williams

PLAY A ROLE THAT YOU PASSIONATE

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives regularly push the organization forward from within. According to Zoe Jacobs, a senior UX content strategist who leads Productive Edge’s all-volunteer DEI committee, a turning point last year involved hiring social impact firm Ethos Equity. The company was the first to conduct a DEI-focused audit that assessed Productive Edge’s current approach, then mapped out a more inclusive strategy for its future.

“Ethos assessed our entire business, the way we work and the policies we have in place,” she said. “Through this, they came up with strategic recommendations that we nixed, which helped us make real progress and focus on how we structure DEI internally.”

So far, the company has followed these recommendations in stride. Productive Edge now observes Juneteenth and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, circulating educational resources around both. Since last year, all employees have received an additional two days of paid time off to give back to their communities, an initiative the DEI Committee has partnered with PE Cares to deliver.

“Our two groups work together, with the same mindset and towards the same goals,” she said. The collaboration allowed employees to participate in a TechGirlz workshop teaching young women how to code –– and also led the company to more recently approve a charitable donation.

Retiwalla would not consider running the business any other way, he said. Whether they focus on DEI or product management, various special interest groups have long been a core part of the company’s approach to inclusion and opportunity. “Having an outside consultancy come in has given us recognition that we know we can grow, improve and find ways to more effectively communicate what DEI means to us,” he said. Not only empowering employees, but also empowering them to lead the charge of these initiatives, also aligns with Productive Edge’s overall approach to career growth.

“People are encouraged to take responsibility,” Retiwalla said. “Our leadership team has always seen this as an empowerment, so people can step in and play a role they’re passionate about. If you want to do that, it’s not something you have to fight for at PE.

Moving to a hybrid environment, in which employees visit the office only as much as they want, Jacobs was relieved that employees were able to maintain the strong internal culture and commitment to progress. “When we were in the days before, we were together all the time and the energy was palpable,” she said. “But with the full flexibility of our new structure, we’ve done a great job of instilling that same feeling from a distance.”

Productive Edge team members working together on a project
Allison Williams

WORKING TOGETHER, FROM ANYWHERE

Maldonado works entirely from her home office in Chicago, where she can more effectively balance the responsibilities of jointly serving as project manager, product owner, and business analyst — “or whatever it takes to drive business success.” team,” she said.

For years before the pandemic, Maldonado had thrived in distant roles. “Remote work helps me control the environment in which I work,” she said. “For many years too, I have taken care of my mother. Having the flexibility to get her to her appointments and manage her health care has saved lives. »

Despite her physical distance from Productive Edge headquarters, Maldonado never feels left out. Team meetings, one-on-ones, lunch-and-learns, and even happy hours are happening virtually, and co-workers are in constant communication on Slack. “Realizing that we won’t all be in the same room, we understand what we expect from each other,” she said. “We support each other as a team, wherever we are individually.”

Rather than selectively providing virtually accessible options for corporate scrums and events, Productive Edge systematically accommodates remote employees. According to Retiwalla, this is a fundamental strength. “The idea of ​​remote teams first was built into our original work model when the company was founded,” he said. “Many companies may think of their teams outside of the United States as offshore teams, managed by offshore managers, connected to projects as needed. That’s not how it works in PE.

Instead, each manager has direct reports, whether or not those reports live nearby; even the tightest teams can have six employees from five different time zones. Staying technologically nimble has proven beneficial when building products and services for customers spread across the world and from different industries; it has also expanded the company’s talent pool, while providing the kind of total flexibility that is currently a priority for the highly qualified candidates that Productive Edge seeks to attract. “As the world adjusts to a distance-first mentality, it’s always been ingrained in how we think about work,” Retiwalla said.

“It’s not for everyone,” added Maldonado. “But for those who work well at home, it’s an incredible mental and physical health benefit to have that flexibility. Knowing that your company actually supports this is very important. »

It’s refreshing, Maldonado added, to know that Productive Edge sees progress as holistic and won’t overlook the employee experience as it augments the industries it serves.

As Productive Edge forges ahead, prioritizing innovation at every turn, Jacobs and Maldonado express particular excitement about their sense that PE 3.0 – and the increased focus it will put on healthcare – also aligns with their personal values.

“Health care is something that, as humans, we all experience,” Jacobs said. “We have a vested interest in improving people’s lives in every way possible. Improving these systems for people working in healthcare and improving the patient experience is what excites me the most. »

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