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blog of developer & bookworm benjamin read

Processes that Increase Value: A Cost Effective Service

I've recently taken a step back from my work to scope out a process that would make an organisation as efficient, competent and successful as it can be in the hopes of having a clearer understanding of where we are as a company and where we have the opportunity to improve.

I was surprised to find some key lessons in my analysis that I hope you can benefit from too.

1. Clearly designed processes that are followed through consistently

Being a successful company means being organised with processes that are put there in order to be as efficient with resources as possible. Spending a bit more time designing processes and following through on them consistently allows key parties to have a clear understanding of where they are in the project. Of course, processes are always a best fit and may require change, but we'll come to that in a bit.

This reduces confusion, frustration and duplicated work.

2. Use Backups to Avoid Data Loss

We have 2 backup processes where I currently work. Our server backs up to itself nightly, and a seperate script runs weekly to transfer all changed files onto a local server. This server in turn has an offsite backup process.

This might sound slightly overkill, but without it we would worry, not just about data retreival, but how long it would take to restore a server.

3. Use Version Control to enable roll back of code

This almost goes without saying, and has saved my bacon on a number of occasions. Version control has so many benefits, from better collaboration, to allowing you to retrieve code that you've deleted and realised you need later on.

I've used GitHub extensively, and love it.

4. Deliver websites on time

It goes without saying, I'm sure you'll agree, that an overrunning project costs wages as well as patience.

5. Deliver websites to budget

Seems obvious again, but I wanted to have it clearly documented that we don't just accept it when a project steps over the budget threshold but instead seek to find weak spots in our process and stem the breach.

6. Clear communication

Miscommunication causes the most costly mistakes and take the most time and effort to resolve. So I planned to cultivate good working relationships between team members to facilitate good communication. This gets more difficult when you're dealing with offsite workers and contractors, where documentation takes on a greater role.

But just stopping by to see how someone is doing, or sending them a gentle text or email, can really go a long way to facilitating better communication. As long as they know you're doing it out of genuine concern for them.

7. Well managed feedback phases

On each tier of service we have a defined amount of feedback phases both the scoping / design and build stages of the project. It's important to include clients in this, in order to increase their confidence in the project. But without clear boundaries for feedback phases (how many there will be, when the deadlines are), things can get messy, and clients start to lose confidence.

My personal view is that three rounds of feedback is the maximum you should have on any project.

That's it!

Personally, these are just things to watch for. They've mostly made the list because I've got bitten by them before. I know from firsthand experience how painful it is to have overruning projects that are quickly spinning out of control.

I hope this was useful :-) I'll write again with Part 2: Increasing value to stakeholders soon.