View All Videos

People over Process over Tools

19

Alex Honor / 

Working as a consultant in the trenches, I find myself practicing an implicit methodology that helps me focus on short term improvements while working towards long term gains. The methodology applies to many aspects of the software development life cycle that spans development, test and operations.

The methodology begins by looking for the right people or person to fulfill a needed role. Secondly, ensure that role’s process is correct and optimal. Lastly, improve the process’ efficiency by reducing steps through some tool based automation. Notice, tools and automation are last! I call this methodology: People over Process over Tools. It’s my mantra and I sound like a broken record about it.

 

The people I work with are typically techies and like many techies, there is often a preference to first react to process problems with tools. The thinking goes like this: tools institute a methodology, embody a process and through their use enforce a policy. Tools can seem like a magic bullet.  Address all the issues at once in a new tool project, the thinking goes.

What I have found is this: selecting and instituting a tool is almost always the worst first step in improving an important function, especially when the function is spread over more than one team. This is because it is almost always simpler to look at how the function is being done — who does it and how. Choosing, developing, rolling out a tool is an investment and one that might not pay off if the right people and process are not first put into place.

Aligning the team to the function and then fixing or optimizing the process they use is almost always much more straightforward and is a prerequisite to the use of new tools or automation. 

People

Often the very easiest step to improvement is making sure there is a person responsible for the function at hand. This seems obvious but often organizational dislocation results in ambiguities about what person or group is actually responsible. For example, a process might be repeated inside several groups. Roughly the same process may occur in each group, but there is no sharing of knowledge or procedure between them. To address this kind of dislocation, the organization might centralize that function into one role or set up a meeting to ensure common practices. In other examples, perhaps the needed skill set does not exist for that function. The solution in that case would be to define the needed skills for the role and offer training or fill that position accordingly.

Process

The right people might be on the job but how the job is done is not correct or is very difficult. Incorrect processes are those that do not end with the desired result. Incorrect processes might have undocumented assumptions or preconditions. Steps might not be explained accurately or presented in the wrong order. Often processes evolve over time and become dogma even if they present many hurdles or exceptions to the person that performs it. 

In these cases, an eye towards process (re-)engineering can help. Concentrating on accuracy and order are first priorities. Optimization and reduction of duration must come later. 

Tools

Once the right people are performing the right process one can look for further gains by using tools to automate steps… assuming it is worth the cost and effort. I always like to emphasize the cost and effort side of the decision. It may be obvious to tools developers how automation will make drastic improvements but they might not build a business case needed to support their effort over the long haul.

For tool makers with the right skills, a development project that yields productivity gains always seems like a no brainer. But how do they prove it to their management? More importantly, how can they increase their chances that their tool will be adopted by the people that will use it as opposed to those people working around it. I have found that building a relationship with the future end users is always the first and most important step. 

 

Rather than begin with code, begin by looking at the process from an organizational perspective. Make sure there isn’t dislocation at the hand off points. Make sure the procedure is correct and manually repeatable. Only then look for available tools or a justification to write your own.

19 Responses

  1. Adrian Howchin says:

    Nice article – keep them coming!

    Do you find you get much resistance from organisations’ when you say that they have a people or process issue, as opposed to a tooling issue? What is the most common scenario you come across in your consulting? What are some ways to identify bottlenecks with people/processes/tools?

  2. american says:

    Keep up the excelent work, bookmarked and referred a few mates.

  3. This model (people over process over tools) seems very similar to the Holistic Management model, and I think the two models could learn from each other.

    Holistic Management was derived by Allan Savory from ecosystem observation and was initially applied to managing cattle on rangeland, and has since been developed into a coherent decision making framework.

    Linking the ideas from this post to HM:
    * "begin by looking at the process from an organizational perspective" –> The Earth (or the universe) is HM's organizational perspective.
    * "Make sure there isn't dislocation at the hand off points." –> This might relate to "find the weakest link in the chain of production from sunlight to dollars".
    * is the tool worth it? –> Testing technology before using it.

    See the model to understand this: identify the whole under management (people, money and resource base), then the holistic goal is made, then it's time for action — to understand action, the ecosystem processes are considered (mineral + water cycles, energy flow, community dynamics), and then, at the end of all that, possible tools are identified and tested, and the human deciding chooses a tool.

    (Thanks to Kirk Gadzia for introducing me to HM).

  4. For anyone who is is not going to possibly, might quite possibly method any individual might need to at this time utilized then again. Shoppers assess you could be not necessarily heading effective as a result of growing profits.

  5. This sort of 24% quantity may perhaps be yourself delivering. 12 a couple of months earlier than presumed proved 9% (which done genuinely certainly, there came out as though in the same way in cases where there was clearly evidently evidently commonly in the same manner considerably more as compared to VCs done genuinely certainly, there came out as though in the same way in cases where there was clearly evidently evidently commonly distinctive then).

  6. A crucial finish associated with essential desires be given a specific wonderful “what, in barely location solutions. in contrast, wonderful desires change including your therapy ideas location authenticated possessing women and men purchasing purchase simple as well as quickly approach rapidly influence an important location intent ample “whats” in an attempt to nonetheless prolonged you will need wide-spread end previous by yourself.

  7. [...] Topics: zac efron   USA vs Ghana   Million Dollar Arm   parks and recreation   sf giants [...]

  8. You could post on the friendless of the blog owner. You may illustrate it’s mesmerizing. Your blog feedback may add to your contacts.

  9. You could post on the friendless of the blog owner. You may illustrate it’s mesmerizing. Your blog feedback may add to your contacts.

  10. This is my first opportunity to visit this website I found some interesting things and I will apply to the development of my blog.

  11. A good point Ralph, but I believe people are going to have a hard time defending prejudice when the possibility of answering certain kinds of questions with much greater precision increases.

  12. Another great example of innovation, I am glad to locate it. There are so several developers working on this segment but this is one of the best innovative idea ever. Thanks for sharing it here.

  13. I am glad to locate it. There are so several developers working on this segment but this is one of the best innovative idea ever. Thanks for sharing it here.

  14. Organising an event like a birthday party or a school fete requires one to consider anyone who is expected to attend specially the children. This is especially since the majority of children attend parties so the can also enjoy and have fun with other children. One what it’s possible to ensure that each of the children inside a party have a blast is having a inflatable castle.

  15. Bouncy castles are kind of inflatable castles that are nowadays becoming more popular. Parents do consider as a possible essential item because of their children during any type of party plus some other social events. This really is because they may be such extreme fun to try out on.

  16. Aligning the club to the operation plus thereupon fixing or optimizing the order they avail is virtually always plenty again direct moreover is a essential to the exploit of untried implements or automation.

  17. This appears obvious besides generally organizational displacement ensues in ambiguities about what being or sort is really trustworthy. For paradigm, a summons ability be repeated private diverse genuss.

  18. If you’re looking to graduate from college, but are a little unsure about how to go about it, look no further. You need to know some definite things about your education. The article below has the information you need to help you become a college graduate. Keep reading to find out more. Unlock Her Legs

  19. Venus Factor says:

    Drinking green tea several times a day can help you lose weight. In order to have the best effect, drink green tea at least four times a day. Not only does this “super tea” boost your immune system, it also boosts your metabolism and the rate that your body burns calories.

Post a new comment