Process overkill – How to have 6 people do the job of two.

My 9 to 5?
I work as an IT project manager in a huge international company.
As with any IT in any company, we are heavily into project and process management.

The countless hours spent in meetings, teams formed just to define processes, Quality Managers looking at projects, crueling process audits,…
Does this all work out? Does the effort pay out in the end?

Here is one example of what is happening. (Names changed to protect the guilty.)

dev: “I need to deploy this program to the test server. I’ll call Harry, he knows what he’s got to do.”

<phone call><done>

<Project Management falls from the sky>

PM: “This can’t go on, we need to document what is being done.”
dev:”Fair deal, this will make my work easier and save my butt from time to time. Done.”
PM:”You also need to write this document and fill out that form and report to this person and write to the Change Management team and enter the schedule in the scheduler control and….”
dev: “$#@% !! Alright, I’ll just write a program to do all that.”

(Actually, not a bad idea. No one says the docs have to be written by hand. And programs make it less tedious and are less error prone. Automation FTW!)

The situation now (this actually happened to me just yesterday)

me:”We need to deploy to the test server”
dev:”Sure, I’ll just call Harry, he knows what to do.”
me:”Err, the scheduling program won’t let us, until we have the docs. And there are new components, after all.”
dev:”$#@% !! Well, I can’t generate all of it, I’ll just fake it.”

<fakes it, enters some additional content by hand>

me:”Err… that might work, but what if that ain’t good enough at inspection?”
dev:”That’s 180 pages of automatically generated documentation, the stuff I entered is sloppy, but not wrong. Let them read the fucker and try to find any error.”
me:”OK, this is urgent so what do we do now?”
dev:”I’ll call Harry, he knows what to do.”
<phone call><done>

So this company basically moved from:

“I’ll call [personX], he knows what to do.”

to:

“I’ll call [personX], he knows what to do.”

In between we are now feeding an additional project manager, a quality management initiative with X teams (I really do not know, but it the head count is in the hundreds, in this city alone), wrote a documentation generator, killed a few thousand trees and annoyed countless developers and added hours to every little step along the way.

Somehow, I fail to be convinced.