How many times have you heard “We need a tool to fix “X”? This happens very often, and we, IT professionals are the worst offenders – we are all enamored with the bright and shiny tool. We listen to the sales executive pitching the tool and promising that all our issues will go away and it will offer us an experience of rainbows and unicorns.
But the story changes after implementation!
It’s not exactly fixing what was promised, but the challenges now start creeping in.
What happens rather relates to the quote “putting lipstick on a pig”.
So, it’s not a tool that can fix the broken processes. Instead we, IT professionals need to take the time to understand our processes.
You cannot do this in a silo
Wondering where to start from? You must have people who are closely involved in the process – They clearly understand how it works. Connect with them and map out the process to identify where does the breaking points lie. There are probably more than one. This can take time and investing in that time is well worth the cost.
The next important thing to have is a Process Map. I have heard many times “We have it mapped out. It is in some drawer or SharePoint site”. That is great, but does everyone follow it? How many people know it exists? I would guess probably no on both counts. Creating a process map is backed by good intentions, but what happens next? – people adjust the process to fit different issues. Soon after, the map is out of date. If the process is not followed and measured in time, then it is as good as not having one.
You may ask, how do you keep people from deviating from the process and keeping documentation up to date? One way is to create Standard Work Sheets. These sheets explain the steps necessary to do the work and should be followed. The sheet should also explain why each step is important so that new employees understand why the steps are important. If a change is necessary to the Standard Worksheet, a change process for updating is necessary so that the owner of the process is aware of the change. This is very important to keep things up to date.
Now speaking of analysis, how can you improve your process if you are not measuring it?
Without tracking metrics is like driving your car blindfolded, you have no idea if you’re on the right road. You don’t know if you’re improving the process or causing it to be worse. Thus, it’s important to understand Metrics – whether you’re winning or failing during the process. So, spend some time and figure out what metrics are important for your project.
Saying it again!
The problems that follow poor process management gradually impacts efficiency, user experience, productivity, and business revenue. So, the process is more important than the tool. Take the time to invest in it, document it, and create a change process to keep it up to date. In the long run, it will save you both money and time.
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