How to Succeed with Software Tools – Part 1

The introduction of a new tool to a project or organization can be a stressful time for all involved. Not only does a new tool bring with it a learning curve for users to get up to speed on the product, it almost certainly demands some kind of change to existing processes. One serious mistake often made during this time is focusing too much on that previous process.

How to Succeed with Software Tools – Part 1

In this series of blog articles we shall examine some of the essential factors required for the successful implementation and use of software tools.

One: Understand Your Company Customs and Traditions

The introduction of a new tool to a project or organization can be a stressful time for all involved. Not only does a new tool bring with it a learning curve for users to get up to speed on the product, it almost certainly demands some kind of change to existing processes. One serious mistake often made during this time is focusing too much on that previous process.

This might seem counterintuitive; surely concentrating on the evolving process is fundamental, and it would be if it were not for culture. Somebody for whom I have great respect recently told me, “We are all just Dilbert™ characters mulling through our sitcom inspired life and… we have already built in mechanisms to get our job done the easiest way we know how… no matter how much it sucks.”

Process Improvement

We always find an easier ways to do something if there is one, despite formal processes that we are supposed to follow. The founding fathers of Agile methodologies were well aware of this and so, built into most Agile methods is the concept of recurrent process improvement. Without this safety valve processes break down as better ways to achieve results become customs and traditions, leaving those processes as documented relics of an ideal that never was.

Learn from Experience

When a new software tool is introduced, focusing on the documented process simply ignores what could really be going on, leading to reluctance and resistance to any new proposals. To introduce a new product successfully, whether it be for an agile project or not, examine the way that work is really being done. It doesn’t matter whether the formal process has been followed or not, this is a chance to learn from the experience of those who have been finding new ways to do the job and fold those ideas into a new product process. Consequently, new products are more likely to gain the support of those who must use them because unlike the old product process, the new one contains elements they recognize and endorse.

You may also be interested in:
How to Choose a Test Management Tool
Software Tools Are Like Football (Soccer)
Manifesto for Agile Software Development

“Dilbert” is a trademarks of SAI.

software tools process culture agile

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