IT Processes Make or Break Your Business
Making sure we are on the same process wavelength
Processes are sequences of tasks, performed by people or machines. Processes can be simple, complicated, or complex.
Simple Processes: Some sequences of tasks are simple. For example, a process can have 4 task-steps which are performed in series, in a defined chronological order, with the next task starting after the current task is completed. Think of making cookies from a box of pre-mixed ingredients: that’s a simple process.
Complicated Processes: Some sequences of tasks can be complicated. As examples, designing and building an enterprise-level software portal is a complicated process. So is designing and building an enterprise-calibre cybersecurity program. These processes involve numerous task-steps sometimes happening in simple sequences, sometimes happening simultaneously [co-existing], and sometimes causing real-time adjustments to mesh with other tasks [interactive co-existence].
Complex Processes: I once read that raising children is the best example of a complex process. While some may argue against that example, most parents smile when they hear it. They know from experience that there are no roadmaps, blueprints, or wiring diagrams that can prepare us for the surprises we experience when we raise children. Each human being brings complexity that goes way beyond “AI”. [It will be quite some time before “AI” will do a good job of raising children.] So, we will set the complexity of raising children aside for now.
IT Processes can be easy or most-challenging
IT Processes happen in either planned or unplanned ways. And, looking at it from a high level, it seems people approach processes in two different ways. Some people are planners, and some people are not planners:
- some people tend to feel an intense need to plan their work and work their plans and
- some people feel very little need to plan processes because they believe they are capable of handling whatever comes their way.
IT Processes have dimensions
- IT Processes can be routine or not-routine,
- IT Processes can be proactive or reactive, and
- IT Processes can be simple or complicated.
Many IT Processes are routine and, in relative terms, they are also simple. While they require knowledge and skills, once you have the knowledge and skills you can perform them with confidence. You can develop good habits, which you can use and reuse. You identify patterns and you repeat the applicable process until it fails. Then you stop and investigate the cause of the failure. In other words, you address the reason behind the complication that made your simple, routine process fail.
When you do a good job of investigating failures you naturally work to use that knowledge to simplify what once seemed complicated. Tied to that learning, one key to understanding complicated IT Processes is to break them down into small components. While all of this seems very basic [like common sense], in the heat of the battle many people forget to break complicated things into their smaller pieces.
The most skilled IT professionals first learned simple processes. Then they advanced their learning to cover complicated processes. Throughout their learning, they gained skills that allowed them to identify patterns. They developed strengths that allowed them to see the big picture and its component patterns at this same time … and quickly. With this performance strength they had the ability to handle both proactive work [example – planning how to monitor equipment performance] and reactive work [example – troubleshooting why equipment stopped working].
Very few IT Processes are complex. While they may appear complex the first time you encounter them, more-experienced people can show you how to perform them without the need for thoughts of complexity. People who can show you how to remove thoughts of complexity make excellent teachers and mentors.
A Few IT Process Suggestions
To improve your IT Processes:
- Help your people understand that most IT issues are not complex. They may be complicated. And complicated issues are best understood and addressed when they are broken down into smaller, simpler pieces.
- Maximize the application of routine processes, performed proactively. Repetition of routine processes builds good habits, which you can use to solve many problems and build the confidence required to address complicated issues.
- Seek out help when you need it: expert help can be an efficient and cost-effective strategy; good mentors are worth their weight in gold.