Friday, August 15, 2008

Process—Not a Magic Wand

And even if it were, you would still need to learn how to work it!
By Sorrel Jakins

When Harry Potter went to Diagon Alley to get his wand, he was first measured and fitted for the right wand by Mr. Ollivander. Mr. Ollivander had many good wands available, but not just any wand would do. Once Harry was matched with his wand, he still wasn’t done. Harry now faced years of schooling, practice and hard work to learn how to use his wand properly and how to get the most out of it. Process work is similar.

Process takes time, and not all problems can be solved by a new or improved process. People, Process, and Technology can be considered three legs of the same milking stool, all equally important. A balanced approach is necessary to avoid a wobble or a crash. For a good process to work well, there are certain pre- and post-requisites.

The benefit of having a common process model lies in the ability to adopt complex and commodity systems using a lingua franca for IT services. Even though we may all be speaking the same language, it is not a replacement for experience. The quality of a system is highly influenced by the quality of the process used to acquire, develop, and maintain it. Process improvement will increase product and service quality as we apply it to achieve business objectives. This, like repentance, is a continuously improving process and not a point-in-time event. As we grow towards a unity of process, we will move to a unity of purpose and a closer alignment of our objectives with BYU and OIT business objectives.

So an improved process model can “help eliminate confusion in terminology and provide a foundation for understanding”—how cool is that? Isn’t that what OIT and BYU needs? So why isn’t process management ubiquitous within OIT? Standards are difficult to implement, people fear that process brings bureaucracy and red tape, and inertia—we believe strongly in doing things the way we always have.

Formal processes provide a foundation for predictable and reliable IT service design and delivery. Just as Harry Potter and his friends learned to put their wands to use for their benefit and the benefit of others, so will we learn to do the same with our processes as we continuously work to improve them.

Back to the three-legged milking stool—do you know why it has only three legs? Because the cow has the udder. 

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