Note: This is another project management article written years ago when I was managing a large software development project. The project team was plagued by individuals who viewed "process" as a destructive force impeding their creativity.
"If you can't describe what you are doing as a process, you don't know what you're doing." – W. Edwards Deming
I have always been a process-oriented person. Give me a flow chart or a checklist and I am happy as a lark. I do not mean to imply that I cannot or will not “think outside of the box” it is just that when I deviate I prefer to have a firm base of reference. I suspect a great many Project Managers share the same sentiments or can at least strongly relate.
I have often joked that Project Managers “inflict process" on team members for the sole purpose of torture or as a depraved source of entertainment. However, the truth is much more benign. As managers or project sponsors, we have a need for projects to be predictable, provide progress visibility, and satisfy schedule, budget, and other resource requirements. A well understood “process” is key to predicting and evaluating the health of a project.
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Does this mean you have to sacrifice creativity under the oppression of a rigid process? Certainly not! The criticism that "process" limits creativity is based on the mistaken idea that there is some inherent contradiction between creativity and satisfying management objectives. While it is certainly possible to implement a process that stifles creativity (many companies can attest to that painful lesson) you can just as easily develop a process that encourages creativity and still satisfy the needs of managing the project.
"Process" really comes into play when you begin to describe how individuals interact with each other throughout the life of a project. Project management methodologies consist of tools, processes, and best practices that project teams use to enable high-impact multidisciplinary work. Methodologies help improve predictability and provide greater visibility of activities throughout the project’s life. Most methodologies are intended to be adaptable to the needs of each project and are generally viewed as guidelines versus a rigid set of rules. However, deviating from a prescribed process for the wrong reason is often worse than simply sticking it out. For example: skipping a design step or inadequately performing software testing often leads to costly rework much later in the project. If you stray from the path make sure, you do so in a well thought out and informed fashion. All this adds up to fewer late nights at the office and more time enjoying friends & family!