Skip to main content

What's in a process?

This is an interesting question - particularly when you're involved in building tools to support them!

In fact the processes behind most projects boil down to
  • what is to be done (tasks, activities, actions),
  • what it is done with (resources, artifacts, tools) and
  • what it is done for or to (products, artifacts and changed status).
Processes can be modularized and if you want to support priority-driven planning - an essential benefit provided by xProcess - you need to build modules of your process - task patterns - around single units of stake-holder benefit (that is around single requirements).

A process need not just address task planning but also aspects such as

  • quality control,
  • artifact management and templates (e.g. for requirements, issues, design and user documentation),
  • workflow (for notification of team participants and for integration with other tools in the environment such as accounting and tracker packages) and
  • human resources concerns such as the definitions of role and skill types.

As organizations grow the libraries of processes behind their projects they can share best practices, evaluate the effectiveness of process changes and optimize their standard approaches to a wide variety of project types. In the mean time, all the projects applying the processes are able to dynamically report status changes, target changes and scope changes achieving both improved agility, and demonstrable compliance and auditability.

If you're defining a process in xProcess here's a list of elements you should be considering:

  • Project patterns - what's the essential structure of projects
  • Task patterns - are their different patterns for things like features, defects , releases
  • Folder patterns - what are the groupings of activities you want to support for planning and prioritising
  • Artifact types - what documents and other artifacts are produced and to what template
  • Role types - what roles do people play
  • Gateway types - are there tasks that need a auditable quality checks applied?
  • Category types - how are tasks and other elements categorised?
  • Expense types - any expenses to build into the process?
  • Actions - are they actions you want triggered by users or events?


Popular posts from this blog

"Plan of Intent" and "Plan of Record"

Ron Lichty is well known in the Software Engineering community on the West Coast as a practitioner, as a seasoned project manager of many successful ventures and in a number of SIGs and conferences in which he is active. In spite of knowing Ron by correspondence over a long period of time it was only at JavaOne this year that we finally got together and I'm very glad we did.

Ron wrote to me after our meeting:

I told a number of people later at JavaOne, and even later that evening at the Software Engineering Management SIG, about xProcess. It really looks good. A question came up: It's a common technique in large organizations to keep a "Plan of Intent" and a "Plan of Record" - to have two project plans, one for the business partners and boss, one you actually execute to. Any support for that in xProcess?

Good question! Here's my reply...

There is support in xProcess for an arbitrary number of target levels through what we call (in the process definitions) P…

Does your Definition of Done allow known defects?

Is it just me or do you also find it odd that some teams have clauses like this in their definition of done (DoD)?
... the Story will contain defects of level 3 severity or less only ... Of course they don't mean you have to put minor bugs in your code - that really would be mad - but it does mean you can sign the Story off as "Done"if the bugs you discover in it are only minor (like spelling mistakes, graphical misalignment, faults with easy workarounds, etc.). I saw DoDs like this some time ago and was seriously puzzled by the madness of it. I was reminded of it again at a meet-up discussion recently - it's clearly a practice that's not uncommon.

Let's look at the consequences of this policy. 

Potentially for every User Story that is signed off as "Done" there could be several additional Defect Stories (of low priority) that will be created. It's possible that finishing a Story (with no additional user requirements) will result in an increase in…

Understanding Cost of Delay and its Use in Kanban

Cost of Delay (CoD) is a vital concept to understand in product development. It should be a guide to the ordering of work items, even if - as is often the case - estimating it quantitatively may be difficult or even impossible. Analysing Cost of Delay (even if done qualitatively) is important because it focuses on the business value of work items and how that value changes over time. An understanding of Cost of Delay is essential if you want to maximise the flow of value to your customers.

Don Reinertsen in his book Flow [1] has shown that, if you want to deliver the maximum business value with a given size team, you give the highest priority, not to the most valuable work items in your "pool of ideas," not even to the most urgent items (those whose business value decays at the fastest rate), nor to your smallest items. Rather you should prioritise those items with the highest value of urgency (or CoD) divided by the time taken to implement them. Reinertsen called this appro…