A business process is any procedure that is done manually by employees. In the software engineering environment this includes everything from code reviews to standup and 1 on 1s.
Compliance with processes involves education, incentives and punishments. People need to know about the process to follow it. And if you don’t attach incentives to the process, negative or positive, people won’t feel a need to follow it.
A common cycle I see is that management will think of a new process which could solve a problem the development organization is facing. They then declare the new process and are surprised when later on no one is following the new process.
When designing new processes it’s important to consider who benefits from the process. Additionally, it’s helpful to contrast who benefits with who is required to implement the process. Are the same people benefiting from the process as the people expected to implement the new process?
Your job as management is to create and enforce the business processes the team follows. Typically, this is best done with buy in from the team but the buck stops with middle and senior management. So it’s important to review what processes you tried to implement and how it went.
What pain points did we try to address with new manual processes this year? How clearly did we define the new process we wanted to implement? Did the team follow the process as expected? Who’s pain point did the new process address? Was it the development team? Was it the product team? Was it the management team?
Typically, people do not need incentives to follow processes which benefit them. But getting people to follow processes which do not benefit them is much more difficult.
Take the example of sprint burn down charts. These charts provide utility to project and management team members. But they rely on the engineering team members to update tickets consistently.
The conflict comes In because burn down charts provide zero benefit to engineers but all the work to support them has to be done by engineers.
This creates a dynamic where engineers are always incentivized to reduce their time commitment to updating tickets while management is frustrated that nobody is updating tickets.
You can of course make updating tickets the primary job task for engineers to fix this issue. But then instead of developing features, updating tickets becomes the primary job responsibility for the engineering team. Not what you want in a development organization.
The problem is that you have a fundamentally extractive business process. You need some group to take on extra work duties to improve the situation for another group. Having good reporting on the state of development tasks is an important thing for engineering organizations. But when designing processes to achieve that goal it is important to think about the process in the correct context.
Being one sided is not a bad thing in general. Businesses are fundamentally about generating profit. If we need an extractive process to make money then it is justified in the context of the business.
However, ideally we want to avoid these kinds of processes. We want to create processes which align the value produced with those doing the work. Because people enjoy following processes more when there is something in it for them. It makes their jobs easier and as a manger it makes your job easier because you don’t need to police whether people followed the process.