Thursday, May 24, 2007

Process, People and Innovations

In Indian software industry context, ISO, CMM have been the buzz words. They were used by the consulting companies to score a marketing point and in the process, also brought in some organized way of working. I am not a big fan of process for process sake and I'm going to bitch about it in this blog.

Way back in 1995, when I worked for a relatively small consulting company in Mumbai, I was asked to write the test plan after I finished all the development work. There were two problems: 1. Usually developers are not the owners for test plans and 2. We were making a mockery of the process by writing the plan when the product was about to be launched. When I protested, my boss said that the organization is going for an ISO certification and it has to be done. Better late than never was his argument. I didn't argue further and complied. But that gave an idea on what process and quality mean to people.

When I was in US, consulting for a number of companies, there were hardly any documentation. Process was there, but was very subtle. Check-in comments and notifications, code reviews were all followed not for the sake of them, but as a standard practice.

After I returned to India, I worked for one of the top 5 consulting companies in India and faced a lot of documentation for the sake of ... documentation. I hated the work. The Manager was not a fan of efficiency or brilliance in software design and development, but liked to define useless processes on and on. I quit the company within 6 months and joined a start up and started implementing simple processes - like reviews and simple plans that could be followed.

In the past few years I come across a number of candidates who have experience in CMM Level 5 companies and know nothing about innovation. They are rendered as the next generation of sophisticated clerks by the respective organizations. British rule left us with systems that were designed to suspect people supported by processes run by clerks. CMM rule is doing the same to our Engineers killing any innovation. I doubt whether a piece of the process was designed to fix a problem after it was "experienced". Processes are blind following of rules defined by impractical Managers, copied from one organization to the other. They generate loads of documents that no one reads after the first month.

To be continued...

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