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Find this Podcast “Process Simplifies 700 Workflows to 80” on the ThreeWill Soundcloud, Stitcher, and iTunes.


Transcript

Danny :Hello and welcome to the ThreeWill podcast. This is your host Danny Ryan. Today I have Sir Eric Bowden here with me. Hello Eric, how are you doing?

 

Eric:Hey Danny, I’m doing great. Glad to be here.

 

Danny :I just knighted you, how about that?

 

Eric:That’s awesome. That’s fantastic.

 

Danny :Well, thanks for joining me in here. It’s late in the day so I’ve got my coffee right here beside me in case I start falling asleep. Hit me on the back of the head if I do, as well.

 

Eric:That’s right. It’s dim in here.

 

Danny :It is. It’s nice and relaxed.

 

Eric:It’s chill.

 

Danny :Yeah, it’s a little hot though. I guess they started turning the heat on and now it gets too hot.

 

Eric:That’s true.

 

Danny :Today, let’s just catch up. Let’s talk about one of the recent projects that you’ve been on. I know when we were talking a little bit earlier about it, you were saying, “Well it’s more process related than technology.” I’m like, “Babe, we talk about process all the time on this podcast. It just happens to be one of the ways that projects are successful, and usually the key way that a project is successful.” No issues with talking about process.

 

Eric:That’s right, that’s right.

 

Danny :Give me a little bit of background on the project. I know we’re not going to bring up the client name because just keep it anonymous, but just give me a little bit of background on the project itself.

 

Eric:Sure, sure. Yeah, and I think as I introduced … You and I were talking about it … I think years ago coding, programming, that was my hammer that I hit every nail with. As time goes on, process has really become my hammer. Not that many people know that, but that’s where I think that’s where the most challenges are on projects are around process. It’s more around identifying what needs to get done and tracking our progress toward that goal, and making good decisions as we’re progressing along. This particular project … It was a little bit of a mix of process and technology. There’s some engineering tasks, but it was a project that had started.

 

The client had been working on it internally for probably in the neighborhood of three or four months. It really didn’t have a lot of process around it. There were things that they maybe thought they were accomplishing, but really wasn’t being tracked. Just not really a feedback loop on the project. I got involved just maybe about a month ago now. They had a concern at the time was really more around architecture. This is a portal site. They use it to communicate with external entities and there were about 39 of those external entities, so they were going to have 39 portal sites. They’re using Nintex workflows for various purposes. The design path they were going down was leading toward a number of workflows in the neighborhood of about 700.

 

Danny :700 separate workflows?

 

Eric:Separate workflows. I’m looking at you to let that sink in. Exactly.

 

Danny :Really?

 

Eric:Yes. The project manager there recognized that, “Hey, wait a minute. I think we might have a problem here. This is going to be a maintenance issue down the road if you have that many workflows.” We had been working with this client, great relationship for years. They contacted us to come in for an architecture review. That’s how this started was an architecture review. This really wasn’t … We weren’t thinking process at the time, so I take a look and I say, “You know, recognize some updates that could be made. There’s some libraries and some workflows that can be combined and so forth.” We ended up with two workflows per site, per 39 sites, to make it-

 

Danny :Oh, I thought you were per 350 sites.

 

Eric:No, no, no.

 

Danny :I was like, Eric, well done.

 

Eric:Per 39. From an architecture standpoint, resulted in a net gain.

 

Danny :Where we’re down to 80.

 

Eric:Yeah, which is good. That is a reasonable amount because there’s some benefits to multiple copies of these workflows. That comes into the fact that the downside is that you have to change it across 39 sites, but the upside is that you can change it to one site without having an impact on all the others. That was a reasonable place to land, and the customer … I work collaboratively with the team so we had some really sharp folks, professionals on the team to work with. We all arrived at these enhancements together, but where that led to … It’s where I naturally gravitate toward, is thinking about how are we going to get this project to the finish line? What is this project? Where are we trying to go? How are we going to get to that end result? What we do to achieve that is we start building a product backlog. We’re into scrum process. I started building out a product backlog. My desire is …

 

I just love to see projects complete and fulfill their mission. That’s really where I was heading toward was hoping that the client would engage us so that I could help bring this project to the finish line. Ultimately that’s what happened. It was really a great way to lead in to an engagement. We started and it was a collaborative team. Me working with from a process side, from coming to architecture and a tech lead side. Helping them get to the finish line. They had engineers. They have a product owner and a QA tester. They had been working on the project previously and they continued. Just really an experienced team, so they just really merged in with the process right away.

 

Danny :Nice, nice. You like finishing things. You and Tommy would get along.

 

Eric:Yeah, yeah, we do, we do. We are such … I think of myself as a closer.

 

Danny :Yes.

 

Eric:And too, an obsessive degree sometimes.

 

Danny :I’m nothing without you guys. I need your help to finish things off.

 

Eric:You have that entrepreneurial spirit. You’re the opener of the possibilities-

 

Danny :It drives me as nuts as it probably drives you guys though.

 

Eric:It doesn’t me because I’m such a natural closer that I have to seek out those that want to open up and take some risk and so forth.

 

Danny :Always be closing Eric, always be closing.

 

Eric:That’s all right, that’s all right. No problem. I can’t help it. I can’t help it. Anyway, it’s been a … We’re just about a week from being ready for user acceptance testing.

 

Danny :Nice.

 

Eric:Yeah, it’s just been a really great experience.

 

Danny :Did you use two week sprints or longer sprints? What did that look like?

 

Eric:Yeah, we were on one week sprints for a short project like this, which I think it was about six weeks in total. We like short feedback cycles, so it’s just one week sprints. Of course, we have daily stand-ups. That’s an even tighter feedback cycle. Our tester was pretty much active. We were releasing builds, of course during the sprint. You don’t want that sprint reviewed and be the first time that you’re features are being tested or that your product owner is putting their hands on the end result. We had a very active product owner who was right behind the QA tester accepting the results. Really a neat model project for I think how a process can really make a big difference.

 

Danny :Did you feel like the project was building momentum once … Typically when you come in on a project that’s floundering you’re just looking for something to build some momentum to get you going in the right direction. Did you feel that way with this project? How did this end up?

 

Eric:That’s a really good point. I would agree that that is the case on a lot of projects. This particular one, and I pointed this out to the team, … I will tell you that within the first week the product owner was just amazed at the results. I know I’m patting my own back, but that was the feedback that I was getting.

 

Danny :Well you’re Sir Eric Bowden so you can pat your pack as long as you want to. Geez.

 

Eric:The reply that I gave was and it’s true, is that while this project was floundering, which it did for … Let’s see, gosh, in the neighborhood of six, well it might have been as long as six months. While that was occurring, what they were doing was they were refining the requirements. Now that you know the technology side was in the implementation side and the progress was zigzagging back and forth, but they were coming to a better conclusion as far as what they actually wanted. When I started, we didn’t have a lot of understanding requirements of them deciding what they wanted to do. That had already really been firmed up. That was a fantastic springboard really for me when I got involved and got the team organized and turned in a little bit different direction. It was just a fantastic springboard for us to really make great progress in the first week.

 

Danny :Nice, nice. Anything else that was unique about this project at all?

 

Eric:It was a decent combination of out of the box configuration with a little bit of app dev. There’s a little bit of custom code in the background for copying files, but mostly out of the box configuration and Nintex workflows. That allowed me to really … I’m the coder so I’m doing some coding on the project and then we had another engineer who was doing more the configuration. That was a good aspect of the project was being able to divide up and say, “There’s a ton of work that needs to be done here and it’s all configuration, and then it was less work needed to be done that was coding.

 

Danny :Was that another ThreeWiller? Who was that? Was it someone from their team that was helping?

 

Eric:Doing the-

 

Danny :Doing the config.

 

Eric:The configuration yeah. That was an engineer from the customer who had been involved actually to a lesser extent on the project as a head, you know initially started, and then that person became more involved.

 

Danny :Did we do the QA or did they do the QA?

 

Eric:No, it was their QA team. They had an engineer doing the configuration, performing the QA, and a product owner. Then me from the process and coding standpoint. We did have a ThreeWiller joined for a little bit for some of the Nintex Workflow support that was really useful. We had a couple of folks here who were doing Nintex workflows and just great to be able to add them all to the team briefly.

 

Danny :About to say, you sound like a one man turnaround artist. I don’t know if you want to do that for every project. You’re like, “Ah, this is just …” It can wear you out coming into one that’s floundering and trying to … That’s tough stuff. What project here at ThreeWill is easy? I’d like to see that one. I don’t know if we take on those types of projects around here.

 

Eric:I don’t know, I don’t know. It’s a finish line. You show me a finish line and that energizes me. It’s hard to turn it away honestly. I enjoy it. I love those kind of projects.

 

Danny :Well you’re awesome. We are so lucky to have you here Eric.

 

Danny :Appreciate you filling us in on this project. Love all the stuff you’re doing. I tried to slow you down with stuff about trove and channel but you just … I’m trying my best to slow you down but there’s no slowing you down man.

 

Eric:I own the target.

 

Danny :Well thank you for taking the time to do this Eric.

 

Eric:Sure Dan. Thanks for letting me.

 

Danny :I really appreciate it. Thanks everybody for listening. Take care, bye bye.

 

 

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