A reliable process is the foundation for higher business value, more satisfied customers, and better products. Process change and adoption, done right, minimizes overhead while delivering significant benefits to both development team and company.
||Process Change and Adoption Challenges
A primary goal for any software development organization must be to continually capitalize on development experiences, whether good or bad. This collective learning and experience, or process, is an effective means to achieve continued sustained performance.
Historically, proactive process change and adoption has not been top of mind with the development community. Developers and managers generally feel they do not have the time or resources to focus on building corporate knowledge assets or process improvement. Process is seen as overhead and takes a back seat to running projects and delivering software. The impact of low-level or poorly designed software processes continually plague the development industry with:
- Unnecessary operational costs
- Uncontrollable rework
- Loss of motivation and creativity
- Ineffective communication and collaboration
- Failure to see development process as intellectual property or corporate asset
Thought leaders and business authors such as Jim Collins in Built to Last and Good to Great, Geoffrey Moore in Crossing the Chasm and Michael Treacy in The Discipline of Market Leaders all point to the concept of discipline as a key element in generating change that creates success (disciplined people, disciplined thought, disciplined action). After all, discipline is the foundation for any successful endeavor. It’s all about focus. Athletes train, musicians practice and software professionals use discipline to focus their talents on those areas where it is most needed. Without these skills, the prospects for the consistency necessary for long-term success are limited.
For development organizations, there are two contexts in which discipline is most valuable – entrepreneurial use of technology and a focused internal culture. That is to say, the most highly effective organizations have developed the optimal balance of internal discipline and entrepreneurial development strategies for their business. They are able to keep bureaucracy to a minimum while still delivering projects on time, on budget and with the required functionality.
SPC understands that for each organization this “sweet spot” will be different since it’s dependent on your unique development challenges and business objectives. That’s why we encourage our clients not to focus on an overly bureaucratic and hierarchical process where projects are often over-controlled, over-administered and under-managed. Instead we encourage a development outlook that is based on thoughtful and flexible best practices.
This balanced approach of an entrepreneurial use of technology and a focused internal culture enables development to work smarter, not harder and leads to better products, more satisfied customers, and higher profits. These same smart companies also know that by collaborating with SPC, they have industry experts enabling their process change and adoption success!
||Getting Better Through Development Processes
For any process change initiative to generate lasting impact, the organization must first understand its current practices and process, then assess the impact of process change, and finally adopt the results and lessons for continued future success for the culture and the business. This is not as easy as it may seem. Many organizations don’t assess their readiness for change nor do they recognize potential implementation gaps. For these companies, the likelihood that any process change initiative will be successful is severely limited.
When change is undertaken in the ‘understand, assess, adopt’ manner, the development organization recognizes its value. It views these activities as the standard way of doing business.
Delivering a successful process change and adoption initiative can reap many benefits. More immediate value can include:
- Creating a work environment that values discipline over costly “trial and error” practices
- Reducing rework and delivering quality products
- Channelling development energy into areas that require innovation
- Generating greater team focus and cohesion
- Aligning development priorities with business objectives
Over the longer term, the benefits of process change grow.
- An environment that requires limited overhead and provides substantial cost and quality performance benefits
- A framework for measuring how well you are doing, substantiated by quantitative data
- The ability to learn from every project, constantly increasing the maturity of the organization, and incorporating new technologies into a project’s environment
- Create a truly responsive development organization that combines discipline with entrepreneurial agility
SPC is a leading provider of technology and management services to Fortune 1000 and medium-sized enterprises wanting to realize the full business potential of their software development process.
SPC’s consultants and experts focus on enabling our clients to create and adopt lasting positive process and adoption practices. Since 1992, we’ve worked with more than 1,000 clients across the globe, including companies such as Express Scripts Inc., Business Objects, Kodak Graphic Communications Canada Company, KeyBank, State Farm Insurance, American Student Association (ASA), DaimlerChrysler Services North America LLC, Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) and Borland Corporation to positively impact their development organization.
Our approach to process change and adoption is designed to enable you to work smarter, not harder. Collaborating with SPC gives your people the best opportunity to meet schedule, cost, product and business objectives.
||Top Tips for Process Change and Adoption
Solving the process change and adoption challenge in a sensible, straightforward manner is the mark of the SPC approach. Instead of a “one-size-fits-all” design that most consulting firms utilize, our consulting, coaching and executive support services work in context with our clients’ culture and experience.
Most importantly, we carefully analyze the most pressing process change areas that need to be answered to ensure a high value, high impact experience.
- Align on and understand what a process, framework, methodology, standard is
A process represents the unique way your organization exploits software to meet its business goals. At its very core, a process is an agreement on how you will work. Without agreement, the focus of process change quickly gets lost and the desired benefits won’t materialize.
- For IT to align with the organization, it must make the conscious decision to do so and plan accordingly
The benefits of aligning IT’s focus and deliverables with business goals and expectations are significant. However, this alignment can only be achieved if the processes that development are following focus them on meeting the needs of the business, rather than making decisions based solely on technical merit.
- Avoid being hierarchical or bureaucratic in your processes
An effective process should limit the amount of overhead required for a project to flow through its lifecycle and focus on securing business objectives efficiently. Otherwise, overly elaborate solutions will put any gains at risk and trap the development team in a “process for process’ sake” scenario.
- Take a future-oriented approach to process change
Look at the desired outcome or result. Don’t start by writing down in detail what you do today. That’s the classic mistake made in most process change initiatives
- Align process change correctly; understand
The most effective process change and adoption initiatives target business goals or to overcome challenges that prevent the organization from meeting its objectives. At the same point, it is important to fully understand the role, value and limitations of process frameworks, such as CMMI or ITIL, to keep expectations in check.
- Do you need Agile processes or do you just need to be agile?
Match the process to your business environment and culture, not the other way around
- Never enforce process
If you feel you have to — it’s likely a sign of more substantial problems that process alone cannot fix.
Learn more about how SPC’s consulting services can enable you to create process change and adoption that lasts.