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Modifying Your Process

Every company seems to have a slightly different process. Large companies often have teams of designers, teams of developers, and multi-step processes that move somewhat slowly but get the job done. Small companies often can go straight from drawings on napkins to front-end interface code with little effort, successfully creating something as great as or even better than the products of the "big boys." It doesn’t really matter what your process looks like—the fact is, it can be improved. Just like when practicing iterative design, you can implement process improvements as often as once a week.

If you work for a large company with many segregated teams, try convincing your boss to let you form a small team to work on a prototype for a new application. You and a couple of developers, reaping the benefits of small teams with fast interpersonal communication, can whip something up in very little time and prove to everyone that a different process entirely could be the way to go forward as a company. If the small team approach doesn’t work, at least you tried it. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. Try something else.

If you find that the bottlenecks in your process stem from communication problems among disparate teams, find ways to clear the bottleneck. A forum on the intranet or some other type of communication-enabling application could be just the thing to get everyone on the same page. Daily standup meetings are also great. Having daily meetings may seem counter-intuitive, because you have one more meeting to deal with on a daily basis, but standup meetings can be kept to 10 minutes or less in most cases. Give each person 30 seconds to talk about his or her plans for the day and raise questions that need to be answered. If the answers take more than a minute to address, deal with them after the standup meeting, so everyone can keep cruising through the standup meeting. This technique keeps everyone on the project in the loop about where each person is in the process, along with what’s done, what’s in progress, and what’s still on the drawing board. With everyone in the know, it’s very east to keep track of the project.

Regardless of what you do to improve your process, you should always be on the lookout for things that can be improved. Often, it’s not as important that you’re moving in the right direction as it is to simply keep moving. Constantly striving for a better workflow means that eventually you’ll get one, and you’ll directly contribute to making your job easier and more fun.

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