One day a following story occurred: a friend of mine (whom I respect very much to the current day) approached me and asked to help one of his then subordinates to fulfil some task faster. “Why don’t you guys go and submit a ticket to the service desk system and then come back to me and give me a number? It’ll be fast enough”. But in vain: their belief in me was strong.
Well, as it happens, a bit too strong 😉 It took me almost twice as long to finish the task as a similar one which was just submitted to our service desk. The guys were disappointed. But then, I let them know beforehand that giving the task not through the working process was a risky task. And the task was late not because I tried to convince them that I was right. I definitely knew something.
My knowledge was as following:
1) I was really overburdened at that time and scarcely could manage my own list of tasks
2) We really had an established process in the house.
The effect of those two? First, If I cannot manage my own task list, any new task which is not formal enough will change the things for the worse. Second, a mature process is better than a task-overwhelmed man. Why? It’s simple: processes are written to make things happen as identically as it is possible. Men aren’t. What does it mean? It means that in the process we had back then there were included various controls to manage tasks, remind people that they have to do the tasks, remind the people’s managers that the people haven’t done the tasks in time and so on. It is repeatable, it is controllable and it mitigates many faults of an individual. And I, at that point, didn’t have any decent process of my own, so it was better to rely on the company’s ones.
So, for me, going around some mature process isn’t worthy in almost all situations. If you don’t follow the process, you usually:
· Lose feedback on what’s going on. You need to go to the guy you’ve asked to do something, and he may be absent/ill/busy. You cannot use standard controls because there is nothing standard, when a person is controlling the task, not a process.
· Break rhythm of work. Hey, you really think that all that backlog is just for fun? Nope, they’d like to have their tasks done fast too. And we promise them some level of service. If you inject too much tasks into pipeline, some of the “usual” tasks may linger in the list infinitely.
· You set a bad example. Especially, if you are a manager. Going around a process looks like going against the rules. And it corrodes morale in the unit.
Still, sometimes, going around is ok. For example:
· You really have a very urgent task. It is so urgent that both you and the implementer are able to control the task flow daily or even hourly. Manually, without a process. Just be sure that you aren’t wrong and it is urgent.
· The process seems to have a drawback, which you may hope to fix. Then what you do is actually putting the task through the new, not established yet process and again control everything. After you finished, you make sure the existing process is changed to the new standard.
Do you know other cases when it’s ok to work around a process?