There is a continuing debate - is it process or people? We'll ignore tools for the moment. I made a post on TWTR - process is king - after a lunch time business development meeting about planning for next quarter. In our practice, three essential elements must be in place for our success. There was much discussion about what these elements are. Dozens were listed, many more discussed, but all of them boiled down to these three, with the others finding homes inside these three.
- Business Development (business capture actually) - no top line, no bottom line. All the good stuff for the staff, customers, and investors happens in between those two lines.
- Content - we can't have a solution looking for a problem. That's nice if you're in the not for profit or non-profit business. But if you want a top line, you have to have something people are willing to pay for. Of course that revenue is only half the equation, cost and cost control is the other half to make it from the top line to the bottom line and not have parenthesis around that bottom line number.
- Delivery - with customers and content, we've got to provide value in exchange for that revenue. This means people who can interface with the customer, deliver the content (consulting, advisory, and solution services).
All three are needed, BD without content and delivery doesn't last long. Content without BD never gets started. Delivery without content means we get paid for doing not much of value for the client - we're just labor.
During that lunch, someone turned to me and asked:
What can we identify as a root cause for the majority of project difficulties in our domains (enterprise IT) that our clients will resonante with?
The asker said, you only get to pick one word from people, processes, or tools. PROCESS was my answer.
People are critical to the success of anything on the planet, especially complex, high risk projects. Can't have a hope of success without the right people. But these people need to do the right things, at the right time for the right cost, and do these things right. But the right people have little hope of success, once you move beyond Plato's seven people around the tree - you need some form of process.
Process is the glue that holds the people, business development, delivery, and content together.
It's been suggested ...
... but this ignores the business aspects of business. Without process the people and tools have no way of delivering the value the customer paid for. Agile is a process. I can hear the gnashing of teeth agile is a mind set. BS, agile is a set of processes that allows a mind set to be implemented by the team.
This notion of master / servant is interesting. It's a Ying/Yang view in our domain. Both are needed, where do we start? Spin the Ying / Yang below fast enough and it turns gray. That's how we achieve success. But without process ...
- The people are left to invent the work activities to themselves. Have 7 or less around a tree no problem. Have a $50M ERP project, probably not.
- No process for invoicing the customer? Likely to not get paid in time to maintain the bottom line.
- No process to configuration control of the source? Likely to have trouble building the product on demand.
- No process for assuring taxes are paid, insurance premiums deducted from payroll? Visit from IRS likely.
- No process for tracing needed capabilities of the product to test, to code, to build to ship? Good luck having happy customers?
- No process for locating, fixing, and verifying bugs? Good luck with having a stable product.
- No process for on boarding new hires? Good luck with rapid startup of productivity.
- No process for developing those Tests for the Test Driven Development? Good luck with assessing the coverage of those test to increase the integrity of the software.
- No process for backup in depth of your source code? Good luck when the comet hits the building in the middle of the night.
You get it. Process is King. People are King, Tools are Prince's. The you've got it backwards quote is for those 7 people sitting around the tree. A wonderful life. A life much sought after. Works in lots of places, but not all - follow the money to see where the Plato approach to business management is applicable.