If I recall correctly I first heard that people got things done and processes were only a crutch to help them (or words to that effect) from Bob Martin (Uncle Bob of Agile Manifesto and science/SF trivia fame). In the years since then I’ve worked on projects with lightweight and heavyweight processes. Based on this experience it seems that lightweight processes indeed are a crutch. They help remind people to do the right things that they might forget. Heavyweight processes are a drag or even a danger to the program. The time a project team spends following a heavyweight process reduces the amount of time spent on the end product especially if the process consumes 10 to 20% (or more in some cases) of the team’s hours. Since processes, like all bureaucracies, expand over time it seems that starting with the least amount process possible is the way to go. Processes, also like bureaucracies, are hard to kill. On one project in my past we pointed out to management that certain processes were slowing the program with little value added. The “fix” to this issue actually ended up adding more process. So start out with as little process as you can and only add more if you really need it.
More thoughts on this to come. (Maybe.)
* With apologies to the writers of the Happy Days TV show.