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12 Dec

Process Isn't a Four-Letter Word

An Image of the Definition of Process in Black and White

Many organizations think process is a four-letter word, especially if they have had a bad experience in the past. Process can be a good thing if done correctly. I often say, “Stay away from Process with a capital P and focus on making things better.” While I don’t think process is a four-letter word I do think about the following four words when implementing a new process:

  1. Punctual – A key piece to any process change is timing. Most organizations can only move so fast. You can’t implement a complex process overnight. When looking to make changes to your process make sure the organization is ready for it otherwise your plan may fail. First impressions do count and you may not get another shot.
  2. Pertinent – People generally dislike change, especially if they don’t understand why something is changing. As the change agent, it is your job to help the organization understand why things are changing and what the intended result is.
  3. Precise – It is difficult for someone to change if they don’t understand what they need to do. Process changes should be made as simple as possible, clearly documented and discussed as a team.
  4. Persistent – Recent research suggests that it takes 66 days to form a good habit and any process change requires significant diligence to ensure compliance. Don’t give up, because if you can’t stick with it, neither will anyone else.

At SevOne we have made many changes to our development process over the last year. As a result, the number of customer reported defects decreased significantly. We have much better visibility into the development process. From the customer’s perspective, we changed our release model from two long running code-trains to a quarterly feature release with monthly bug fix updates. Each quarterly release has a life-span of 12-18 months. This new model provides our customers with greater stability while still allowing them to consume new features at a very rapid pace. We have already seen good results, and as more customers move to version 5 they will be able to take advantage of the new release cycle.

The new year will be upon us soon and I encourage you to think about what you will change next year.

Brian Harvell is VP of Engineering for SevOne.

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