Process Before Projects

Process Before Projects

You’ve heard the phrase “Cart before the horse?” Well one Agile company learned a similar phrase during their implementation. Save yourself a lot of time and effort by learning this simple phrase.

“Hi, I’m Jay Arthur, author of “Lean Six Sigma for Hospitals” and the QI Macros [software]. I was at the ASQ Lean Six Sigma conference and there was a whole presentation on a company that had implemented Agile for software development, and I was kind of stunned to discover that I think they said they spent $15 million implementing Agile. Well, if you’re spending that much money, I’m not sure you’re being Agile, but anyway…

“So the one thing that they really said about implementing Agile for software improvement, the mistake they made was they started doing projects before they improved the process. Now, I can tell you from my 50-odd years in software development, the big mistake that was made was we tried to design requirements for software based on the old manual system that was there. You can imagine if you try and automate an old manual system that has all these workarounds and clinks and clanks and do-lollies that have come into being without actually improving that process before you automate it, where do you end up? You end up with a software system that actually is hardwired to do stupid stuff repeatedly, and you spend a lot of time and money building all this extra nonsense in that you don’t need any more.

“So their insight was “First Process, then Projects.” You improve the process, then you automate the process. Does this make sense? That’s all you have to do: Think about it, let’s do the process automation, training, tuning (whatever) first. Process Improvement first, then projects to automate that. In Toyota they call it “Autonomation” [Jidoka]; automation with the human touch. So we want to tune up the process, then automate the process.

“That’s my Improvement Insight for this week. Let’s go out and improve something.”