Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Work: Do You Only Enforce Process at Work?

Our typical 15 minutes meeting became 60 minutes because of the holiday weekend both in the US and in India. With a standard change, system test typically requires a few days thus pushing back on the release for next week. We are in the process of trying to implement some control on the release dates, so this was yet another bump in the process. Our team to deploy has been frustrated with the inconsistency with the process.

Since I have been here, system test has been the most direct source of most scheduling issues. This is not to say that it is their fault as they must also juggle the ever changing scope, requirements, and waiting on fixes to issues found during testing. For my role, I really only need to know if they can complete the testing for minor fixes.

The person I deal with is rather strict with the process in that we have given them 3 days to complete testing. Because of the holidays (India on Fri and US on Mon), they have lost two days. Even though we try to explain that it should not take long because the fixes are small and minor, the discussion escalated to include other managers to step in to make an "exception" to the process. And the explanation did not take very long to stick with the original problems, and that system test could finish today if everyone was ready.

In typical corporate life, this is rather normal. But if you wish to advance, here is an opportunity for the system test liaison to have discussed this with their manager to accommodate the customers. For smaller sized companies, this is a good opportunity to keep yourself relevant in the meeting because I really do not need a person to tell me that they always need 3 days. If I had a say, I would campaign to exclude the group from the call and make a note that missed opportunities are due to system test requirements.

On a side note if you are in a "discussion" (people seem to be sensitive to "argument" in the corporate world) and you have to repeat the process more than 3 times while the other party changes their frame of questioning, change your response because you either do not understand what they are saying or they do not understand what you are saying. Repeating yourself rarely changes these discussions and wastes everyone else's time.

So basically, machines are very good at enforcing process. People are good at handling exceptions. Consider alternatives and be flexible especially when other groups are being flexible. This is why we are still relevant.

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