Tuesday, February 15, 2005

It's The People, Not The Process

So, your organization has a standardized process model? Maybe they are even at CMM level 3 or above or a certified Six Sigma company? Well, congratulations! The rationale behind those efforts is most likely an honorable one: improving your product quality by improving your process quality. Besides, a certification certainly helps to stay competitive in bid invitation procedures, especially in case of public sector contracts.

A somewhat less optimistic interpretation would be that some companies install all those process models mainly because management doesn't trust its own employees, and think they need constant hand-holding. Or that they try to turn their employees into replaceable parts - after all, it's the process that counts, and every new hire can easily learn all what needs to be known from those funny flow diagrams and process descriptions. Or the head of QA just wants that Six Sigma certificate... framed on his desk.

Don't get me wrong - it's a good thing to constantly review and improve how things are done. There is nothing wrong with having a well-defined approach on how to run software projects, standard documents and checklists, or the cumulated experience of many long-serving co-workers written down somewhere. But: all of this will never be a substitute for hiring, supporting, motivating, challenging bright and hard-working people. Top notch employees are going to figure how to do it right anyway, while others will still manage to screw it - with or without process model.

Bill Lumbergh, bureaucratic archetype (from the movie "Office Space")

And when you find out your management cares more about whether you filled out those annoying TPS reports than what they care about you and your working environment, it's time to grab that red stapler and move on...

Related Posting: Widget Factory Software Organizations