Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Process vs Best Practice

I'm tired of process. Yes, I know it is supposed to help. Yes, I know it encourages responsibility and increases quality and decreases entropy and blah blah blah, but it is WRONG.

If you hire the smartest people, give them the best tools, and let them work, they will do the right thing, intrinsically. You only need process when your people have let you down. In fact, when you institute a mandated process, you are slapping your employees in the face. You are saying, "I don't trust you to get this right, so I, your leader, have mandated that you must follow these steps." The best people will follow the best practices. They will use version control, bug tracking, and change management because it is the right thing to do, not because someone forced them to do it. Moreover, they will also be able to choose when not to use it. The problem with process is that it must be blindly followed. It will bog your people and your company down in its forced standards. It will lower morale due to trust issues. It will lower morale due to developers being forced into the "one right way" (developers naturally resist standards and blind obedience).

Get the right people on the bus and get the process off the bus. Let the people find the best practices and let them have a great time producing great code.


Amy said...


Andy said...

I think I was nodding my head the entire time reading this....course I may have just been having a neurotic episode, too

Anonymous said...

It is very evident that this naivety expressed have not been "around the block" in the professional software maintenance world. Sigh... If you were operating a software development initiative and/or company with your own funds you would not be saying this.

Tanton said...

Ah yes, the fun world of maintenance. It is hard to get the "right people" there. Who wants to work on maintenance. Having been there, I understand your pain. There should be a follow-up to this blog post on how to run a successful maintenance shop. However, I can also say that it _is_ possible to get the right people, and it _is_ possible to let them do maintenance with little to no process and it works quite well. However, it is often not worth the cost