Dictionary.com defines “process” as a "systematic series of actions directed to some end.”
Whether developing custom applications or implementing more packaged solutions, process is needed. So what exactly does that mean? I like to think of developing a process as finding the right map to get you where you are going.
When you go on a road trip, you have your origin and your destination. You have many options for routes and paths to take—some long, some short, some laden with pot-holes, some dead ends. You have some conditions or constraints—time, mode of transportation, scenic route desired and so on—and you need to plan your route based on these conditions. And oh by the way, in the middle of your trip a road is closed for construction.
Now what do you do? You revisit that map, conditions, and find an alternate route.
Process development is no different. And it can't just be from a technical perspective. It has to take into account all aspects from business reasons, to technologies available, to resources, to training, to implementation, and ongoing support or enhancements.
Without having a map to help you navigate, you are left to wander. If you don’t decided where the project is going and how you are going to get there, individuals may make decisions that may be appropriate for themselves but not the project as a whole. Having a navigational map/process allows you to ensure everyone is on the same page for the delivery goal. It lays out an agreed-upon path to achieve that goal. It contains the conditions of that path too, so, when you invariably hit that roadblock, you can take measured steps to find the best new route. You don't have to start over, you have the guiding principles to make adjustments.
Each development effort, whether big or small, should have this mentality in mind. A key component of the right process is communication and collaboration throughout. But like with a road trip, sometimes there need to be cops along the way to ensure that everyone follows the rules of the road.
For software implementation, the cops are the Project Managers and/or the Technical Lead. They keep the reckless drivers (an individual team member going in her/his own direction, missing deadlines, etc.) from causing “accidents” (cost overruns, poor customer experience).
No map can help you avoid everything and no one follows the rules of the road 100% of the time. There will always be minor infractions but if you have the process defined and the road map laid out, you have a better chance of a successful delivery.
About the Author
Craig Pasquale is Director of Omnichannel Commerce Solutions at Lightwell; an eCommerce Expert Extraordinaire; and the old guy with a cool beard (the dated head shot doesn't do it justice).