Friday, May 21, 2010

Small tweaks in processes often change things dramatically

While developing software and as I found recently, in life too, small changes in processes can sometimes lead to dramatic changes for the better. I will illustrate this with two examples - one from a software project and the other from my life.

In Effigent, there was project that was becoming a pain for all concerned. The onsite team was continuously frustrated with the lack of productivity of the offshore team. The offshore team was frustrated because despite putting in long hours and working really hard, there were no results. The customer was also unhappy with the work being done.

A little study of the process by the head of operations in India revealed a problem. What was happening was that the tasks for each day were being assigned to the offshore team by the onsite team in a call every morning. The call went on from about 10 in the morning till noon. This was because there would be detailed discussions on the requirements. Around noon, the team would start their work, half tired with the long meeting that had just concluded and almost half their day already gone. They would then begin coding and testing. Invariably the day would stretch to late night. This continued day after day.

The head of operations in India introduced a small tweak to the process being followed. He mandated that the tasks for the day would need to come to the team by 9 am that day in the form of a document that had detailed explanations of everything that was to be done that day. The offshore team would go through this document and there would be a call only if necessary to clarify things that were not understood by the offshore team. This call should ordinarily not be necessary at all and should be had only once in a way. The document should be good enough to ensure this.

This worked like a charm. The offshore team would come in by 9. The document would be waiting for them. They would go through the document and get started with their work immediately. They would be done with their work by evening and very rarely did they need to stretch beyond a point.

This shows how a small tweak in the process helped so much. Tomorrow, I will give you an example from my life on how a similar small tweak in a process in my life helped change things dramatically as well.

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