Why is Continuous Improvement better than sytematic and detailed planning?
Plan – Design – Implement – Test has always been the classic methodology when it comes to Software Development (Waterfall Model) or Business Process Implementation.
A Waterfall model of software development methodology is also followed when it is outsourced. There are distinct requirements Gathering, Design, Implementation, Testing and Rollout phases to these efforts.
When business processes are outsourced, it is usually to only recreate the process in another organization. The initial goals are to stabilize the business process and make sure that it is run at least as efficiently and effectively as before. Business process improvement is more of a longer term ideal rather than a goal, especially with off-shoring where cost savings is usually the initial reason.
With Software Development outsourcing, project slippages and software not meeting the true requirements of the customers are more than the norm than the exception. With Business Process Outsourcing, process improvement hardly ever figures in the initial stages of the transition.
However, what works best in both cases is Continuous Process Improvement, ironically!
Requirements Gathering, Design, Implementation and Testing needs to be an iterative one rather than a single long running process. Users hardly ever know precisely what they need in software but they know what problem they want IT to solve. They also do not know what is possible with technology and so may ask for less than what solves their problem. Rapid Software Development, Agile Methodologies, Extreme Programming all embody the idea that with iterative development, users get a preview of the software as early as possible so that course corrections can be made as early as possible in the development cycle. Also, with iterative development software gets tested that many times more and results in more robust software!
Genchi Gembutsu, Japanese for “Go and See” recommends that in order to improve Manufacturing or Service Processes, going and seeing what is being done as the right approach. Business processes need to be executed and observed closely for continuous process improvement. Iterative execution provides valuable insights into what parts of the business process actually need improvement and how.
IT Outsourcing and Business Process Outsourcing can both benefit a great deal with observing closely what is being done and applying iterative continuous improvement.
Sometimes Tortoise can beat the Hare! Or is it the other way around?!