If the process doesn´t serve your context …….

A few weeks ago I was faced with the following challenge.

I needed to test some functionality which was “moved” to a new platform. The situation was that we did not have much experience with this new platform. We only had experience from a two day tutorial given by a business analyst working on the new platform. The people with experience and knowledge about the new platform were all based in Prague in the Czech Republic.

Beside the lack of experience We faced another problem. The test must be finished within three weeks to meet the release date.

My first assessment for this assignment was that I have to be onsite to work with the experts.
This would give me a good chance of meeting the release date. I mentioned this to the Czech PM responsible of the new platform.
He said; “It is a good idea”. I asked; “Can you make the arrangements for the trip”. He said; “No, not in time. It has to go via Head Quarters in Germany and that will take me a month to get it arranged”. Damn the process.

I asked my supervisor if I could go to the colleagues in Prague to work with them on site. He said the following.
– This request has to be payed from the operational expenses of the department. I don’t have budget for that.
– And, you are an external and company rules at this moment state that external are not allowed to travel.
Again the process

I was a bit disappointed. It was important to meet the end date, but there was no coorporation to realize it.

What has to be done to meet my goal, to serve my context. I have to come up with a budget to cover my travel expenses.
But wait, I’m an indepedant consultant and I’m in control over my “own travel expenses”. If I pay the expenses myself and see if I can get the money back via booking extra hours on the project, it would solve my problem.

I asked the Project Manager who gave me this test request, if I can book the extra hours on the project to cover the travel expenses. He agreed. I asked my supervisor the same question, he also agreed.
One hour later I booked my flight and hotel to visit my colleagues in Prague, Czech Republic to do the acceptance test on site.

But wait, more problems. I don’t have access to my work account while I’m travelling. I need to have company notebook and I need secure access to the company network.

As an external, I don’t have this privileges. Damn those processes, rules. Again some creativity was needed.
I asked the person from network support what I need to arrange to get a company notebook and secure access to the company network. He stated that I need to create a service request assigned to him with the written support (an email) of the Director of IT security and my supervisor. Hopefuly this will work he said. I started this tour with a visit to the Director of IT security. When I explained the assignment, he wrote the email to me and my supervisor. With this email and the approval of my supervisor, I created the service request. I chased this request thru the system, asking people who need to formally approved the request, to give special attention to it. Two days before I had to travel, I had a company notebook with secure access to the company network.

So to serve the context of my assigment, I changed the process. The assignment was finished on time. I discovered three bugs, one of them was blocking for moving to the production environment. This success was highly rewarded by the stakeholders.

Conclusion: If the process doesn´t serve your context …… change the process.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Martijn Ruff says:

    This post is a good example of how to get things done in (large) organizations! I guess most professionals can recognize the struggles with processes which hinder anything from getting done at all (at least *I* do). I agree with the steps you’ve taken in order to get the desired result.

    However, when you say “If the process doesn´t serve your context …… change the process.” I think there can be a better description. You did not really change the process in order to get the desired result. Afterwards the process remained as it was before. You were creative and flexible and were able to examine where the process could be by-passed and where the process left room for flexibility. For example, by getting the IT director’s permission for the laptop, you did follow a process, not crossing a line you were not allowed to pass.

    I think this is where the strength of context-driven thinking is shown:

    – you are aware of the current processes
    – you are aware of the goals you want to achieve
    – you see how the first hinders you from achieving the second
    – by being creative and flexible you find room around the process for an alternative which is acceptable by the company
    – you achieve your goals
    – the company which prescribed the hindering process in the first place was glad you by-passed it

    Thanks for this example, let it inspire others to be creative and flexible too!

    1. Martijn,

      Thanks for the feedback. I also had my doubts with the word “Change”. I was thinking about the word “Challange”. It can work both well. I keep the word “Change”, because the goal is `to change the process by challenging the process´.

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