In an opinion article at Sand Hill, Eyal Maor discusses the business challenges caused by having too many processes running ‘under the radar.’ Specifically, the extensive use of email to conduct 60-80% of all processes. Here, I share my own thoughts on the topic…
This is an interesting article whose premise is more of an issue for some businesses than others. In a recent role as product manager this was an issue I needed to address.
The pre-existing processes were fine for a business unit with one, then two product offerings. As the product line grew to have six offerings Ops increasingly had to deal with ‘fires.’
Stepping back, I came to realize the problem was due to ‘human processes.’ As the article described, we had everything driven through email. The customer-facing project management team was disjointed with my organization bearing the brunt of delivering and managing executables. All too often, this required an Ops analyst to pull together dozens of emails spanning weeks, or months, in order to figure out what had to be delivered for the project managers. At the same time, there were too many external points of entry into the team.
The organization had outgrown its prior processes. To begin addressing things, we did a weighted ranking of identified issues. This was revealing since the highest impact problems were also the least visible.
The biggest, and first process to be tackled, was Change Management. In essence, Change Requests had to be submitted (fully approved) as self-contained PDF documents. These documents were then placed into a doc management system for tracking and transparency. No more scads of email to be interlaced back together in an attempt to guess at what the requester wanted.
Finally, and equally important, we moved to where all CRs had to flow through a two-person team. This served to mitigate conflicts and reduce wasted resources caused by too many people putting fingers into the larger organization.
After about 8 weeks, the changes began to clearly bear fruit. The unmanageable (endless fires) became manageable. The improved productivity not only helped improve time to market, it also gave us some additional resources to address other issues.