Real process, when is it good, when is it a waste?
Process is such a delicious subject! You mention process and you see much of the IT community squirm at the mere thought of the pain it represents. You also see some real believers step up to the plate. And then the fun starts!
It’s so like watching a very intelligent, resourceful agent being force-fed some truth serum by a morbidly determined captor. Compelling I tell you! But wait! The amount of times I have seen the agent (representing your typically creative IT techie) managing to hoodwink the captor (representing your typically conscientious manager type – likely ex-IT techie himself) is really amazing.
As contractor I once heard a senior developer confess to an ‘executive decision’. It was a decision to change some code in a banking system without going through the appropriate change management process. Shock! Horror! Yet, I understood the thought processes of this normally responsible resource, and understanding it gave me sympathy. And I tell you, that behaviour was not so rare nor so isolated as IT managers the world over would wish!
As a manager I have also with much determination sold the idea of the heavenly virtues of good process. Yet I find myself now doubting conventional wisdom! Heresy, I hear some holler.
Why the contention? Well, for the management component of this argument there are very clear and important issues at hand, things like change management, regression issues, and good form…the ITIL way. Yet even ITIL advises to be selective about its own implementation.
For the IT agent it’s more personal. How come? See the secret sauce in the IT agent’s make up is that she (mostly) actually cares about the business client! The ‘executive decision’ I referred to earlier was to help a business client achieve their goals, most ‘executive decisions’ are exactly that.
See, our IT agent knows instinctively that too much process harms the business and she resents the absolutely mind numbing delays that obstructs quick, constructive solutioning. Therefore she feels it cheating when a two minute code change takes 6 weeks to go through the mandated IT change processes.
Here’s the rub. She’s mostly right too! Not always though.
Organisational Behaviour scientists tells us that the more centralised the decision making, the more perfect, but slow the decisions. Also, the more decentralised the decision making the more satisfying the customer experience, but more costly too. Two very contentious dynamics.
Let me let you in on the secret, there is a way through which you can pick the right course of action. It’s really as simple as doing the necessary work to understand the risks associated with every change. Try this out for size: Low risk, low process. High risk, high process. Along that route the passionate IT agent, the committed IT manager and the soon to be satisfied business client will come happily together.
Need some discernment in the application of your processes? Give us a bell!