Is it time to update your engineering processes?

Processes have to serve the development of the product

  • Intercom is a product-first company, meaning processes have to focus on the product’s development rather than the product developing out of predetermined processes.
  • At Intercom, we have a strong culture of solving the right problems by defining the true problem and how we solve it using a small, well-scoped project.

The subconscious benefit of processes

  • Processes are usually comfortable in the sense that they are institutional habits
  • Work that is aligned to a process is similar to a habit
  • The process is already de-risked, thought through, and ideally has a proven track record of success

Solving the Problem You Have

  • Define the problem you have
  • If you don’t identify the problem clearly, then you need to ask yourself why you are even starting
  • Processes must be agile and innovative to let you move fast
  • Solving proper problems with proper processes will allow you to focus on other important things

Define the success criteria

  • Don’t start with the process, start with what success looks like
  • Starting from success gets rid of your biases around the design and focuses instead on the best outcome possible
  • Remember, usage without value is a clear failure, so usage of the process in itself is not a measure of success

Update your engineering processes periodically

  • If processes don’t solve real problems, they harm your culture
  • To make sure that you are not solving the wrong problems, you must encourage everyone using the process to challenge the status quo
  • In order to achieve that, you have to ensure that your processes are easy to change

Master your habits – and your processes

  • Processes should be beneficial and helpful without becoming burdened by bureaucracy
  • Successful companies are defined by their ability to develop and change their habits, rather than becoming beholden to them
  • Some processes are good, some are bad, and some outlive their usefulness
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