You are given a challenging project. The goals for the project seem clear, the deadline is very clear, but the path to reach the goals is loose. You take this as licence to go your own way with how you achieve the goals in the time given. They hired you to solve problems, not to sit around complaining, right? You are happy and excited to begin.
As you make your way and share your progress, you find that there are many hidden constraints on how you are supposed to do things to reach the goal. You must restart several times as the people involved give you new information you wish they had shared up front. Then you “finish” the work and it gets shared with a larger audience. Even more feedback comes your way. You put some serious effort into this work, but nobody seems to like it, You feel like you were set up to fail because you could have dealt with most of the issues if you had been given complete information up front.
This is what happens when there is not a solid process in place to make sure that projects are properly defined from the beginning, and that all those concerned have the discipline to provide their input at the right time in the process.
We have had our share of challenges in this area at IBEX Payroll. Everyone has the best intentions, but in the days before we had a solid process and the discipline to use it, our software often had to be reworked many times until it was right. It was frustrating for everyone.
The solution for us has been to put a process in place to force the discussions and decisions to happen before the work can begin, and to hold everyone accountable to provide their input at the beginning, not during the work. With this approach, the person executing the project has better knowledge about the work to be done. Much less frustration, far more predictably, and awesome results are the benefits. Who knew that following a process would be so much more fun than just winging it?