chalakanth

Don’t make users learn codes in place of business terms

Here is a good example of bad user experience I came across recently.

In training, I was told the various status codes that health claims would be in.

  • 125 for a pending claim.
  • 483 for a paid claim.
  • And so on.

I was also told codes that indicate the results of business jobs

  • 0 means a claim has been priced completely.
  • 58 means claim has an unknown provider.
  • 26, 27,28 are violations of Wyoming state laws regarding Medicaid claims for black lung disease.
  • And so on.

Then they tested us on these codes.  I did poorly on the test. Who can remember all these damn codes?

So, I have a question.

Why can’t a pending claim simply be marked ‘pending claim’? Why must you come you convert that plain English status to a number?

If there are technical reasons for representing that status as a number, fine, do so.  However, why must I, the business user, be exposed to that number? Why can’t you keep the number to yourself, and tell me the claim’s status in plain English?

Why are you making me remember arbitrary numbers, when natural and easy to understand business terminology exist?

And last but not least, if the business user did not see these numbers, you can avoid a whole chunk of training.   Is that anything but a good thing?

This is an example of “Design is an act of communication“.

This is user experience.

chalakanth

Architecture I believe, architects not so much

So I am part of the Enterprise Architecture group now.  That makes me laugh.  In my admittedly narrow experience, architects have never seemed relevant to my responsibilities.   That is part of why I took the job.  See if I could figure out what this is all about.

Engineer

I have come to think of myself as an engineer.  I build things that people use.   Point me to a business problem.   I can find my way from the problem to a solution, soup to nuts.  Part of this work is architecture, the decisions that are expensive to change.   The work also includes business analysis, and solution design (tech-agnostic, and tech-centric).  Then there is construction of the solution – coding, and testing.  Last but not least, deploy the solution, and support it.  Drive this whole ship forward with agility.

On a day to day basis, my job is to do whatever needs done to get work out the door.  Every day finds me doing this, that, or all the work mentioned above.

Architect

I have been a working software engineer in several different environments.   The architects that I have come across in that journey have been of little help.

  • Have architects had knowledge that I did not? Not that I ever saw.  Anything they told me, I could pick up off the internet in a couple of hours.  Often, a little due diligence on my part would reveal the weakness in their choices.
  • Had the architects created solutions, which I could use, as is, to do my work?  In my personal experience, no. Many of them considered themselves above what they called, ‘development‘.
  • Did the architects have skills that I could borrow?  Could I say, look, I have a problem, can you solve it for me, or can you teach me to solve it?  This never happened either.

So, why take the job

There has to be more to being an architect than I have seen.  If that is true, I would like to find out what I have missed.

Architects seem to have more access to both business and executive IT management.  It would be useful to see the world from their point of view.

An engineer solves business problems.   The architect role gets me closer to the essential business.  Engineering starts there.  Now, fewer people will  be surprised when I ask, wait, what business purpose does this serve; why must we do this.

In any event, the die is cast.  Let’s see how it rolls.

 

chalakanth

Build vs Buy – asking for an engineer

When a build vs buy discussion comes up, a few questions start to rattle around my head.  I suspect this is the engineering side of my brain acting up.

Skills you don’t want

Supporting a business with a computing solution is an intricate dance between several players.

It is analysis of the business problem, large and small-grained design of a solution, construction, testing and delivery of the solution, all enabled by effective communication between people, agile planning and execution.

Which of the above work are you expecting to avoid by buying rather than building?

What skills will no longer be necessary, when you buy instead of build?

A business machine

A person buys insurance from us.  Over the years, as that person and we do business, a lot of information accumulates.   This information is in various media.

  • Paper that we send back and forth
  • Electronic text that we send back and forth
  • Still pictures
  • Moving pictures – video
  • Audio recording

To run our business, we must be able to do the following.

  • This information must reside somewhere.
  • We want to be able to search for stuff in this information.
  • We want to view this information when necessary.

Now, consider a machine that promises this.

  • Here is a box.  The box has a hole.  Drop your information in this hole.
    • Anyone can do this.   My 3 year old niece can do this.
      • This is your information repository.
  • The box has a screen, and a keyboard.  When you want to search for something, ask the question on the screen.  We’ll find and show you what we think might answer your question.
    • Anyone that knows English and your business can do it.
      • This is your search
  • When you decide what you want to look at, the box will bring up that material to you, as you put it in the box.  It will come out of a second hole.
    • This is your view.

If this machine existed, I would buy it.

The interesting question is this. Look at the skills in play.  You only need people that know the business.  And you need the cash to buy the machine.  A guy with a trolley to wheel the machine in would also be useful.  You need none of the drama that we think of as IT.

What skills do you want to acquire, maintain, and manage.  There is your build vs buy decision.

Mistakes you want to avoid

What mistakes, errors, failures will buying avoid?

What mistakes are you looking to avoid?

The analyst gave the developer a table of numbers, which affects a customer’s bill.  The developer discovered that the industry specifies a formula, which generates those numbers.   He used the formula and generated the table himself.   He found that his table and the analyst’s table were different.

The developer asked the analyst to review the tables.   The analyst said she did, and the table was fine.  She was talking about her table.  The developer thought she meant his table.   The developer implemented his table.

The developer had made a subtle error in floating point calculation.    His numbers were wrong.   This led to a small increase in the bill that customers got.  We got wind of it only when the customer complained.

The developer and the analyst built something wrong.  What can you buy that will make their work, and associated error, unnecessary?

Communication problem

When two people collaborate, they will misunderstand each other sometimes.   You can avoid that ubiquitous human snafu only if they never have to communicate with each other.   What can you buy that will accomplish that?

What makes a man a man

We speak to people within and without the organization.   We use phones.  We buy phones.  We don’t build them from scratch.

We communicate via written word.   We buy paper, and pens.  We don’t make paper.   We buy a word processor.  We don’t build a word processor.

We want to maintain a correspondence with people.   We buy or subscribe to an email service.  We don’t build an email server and client from scratch.

We built a web application that accepts a beneficiary’s enrollment application.  We did not buy this application.

What makes the word processor and that enrollment web application different, which caused us to buy one, but build the other?

chalakanth

Developers must know the business domain – I

Knowledge of the business domain is essential to developers.  They must know the business as well as the business folks know it.

We have all worked in environments where the business analyst’s word is gospel.  The analyst specifies a solution, and the developer translates it verbatim into code.

This approach to software development is less then optimal.

Blind football

Imagine sending a running back onto the field blindfolded.  We tell him, never mind that you cannot see a thing.  The analyst will relay  instructions to your ear.  Follow them to the letter and Bob’s your uncle.

  • Run 6 yards on a 37 degree angle to the left.  Your left, not mine.
  • Now tack right, 82 degrees, and run 15 yards at a speed of 26 miles per hour.
  • Wait, 300 pound linebacker at 7 ‘o’ clock.  Wheel, dummy, wheel.
  • Uh oh, too late.  No, wait.  The linebacker got tripped by his own cornerback!

See, the defense has blindfolds on too.  In fact, all 22 players on the field are blind as bats.  They are unseeing puppets, lumbering about, whose strings the business analyst is pulling.  Don’t you think there will be stumbles?  You bet there will be.  The business analysts have to be superhuman to get everything right all the time.  Your team must loose the blindfolds.

Pre-empt the bug

Business folks and analysts are as fallible as the next person.  There will be holes in the information they provide.  These gaps can cause  errors.  Developers must recognize and fill those gaps so that they can avoid those errors.  The alternative is to let the error happen, hope that someone catches it, then fix the error.   How can this ever be better than avoiding the error in the first place?  

chalakanth

Agile, by First Principles

Agile gives me the warm and fuzzy, because like all good systems it can be characterized by a small set of rules, first principles, from which we can derive all other relevant lessons.

first principles

Arguably, the Agile Manifesto, is the most famous attempt to lay out the first principles of the agile approach to software development.  The Agile Manifesto comes in two forms – an elegant and concise one, which is shown below, and a slightly longer, more expository one that I will leave you to discover.

Shorter Agile Manifesto

The problem with first principles

First principles are distillations of wisdom that practitioners gained only after a lot of experience.   For that very reason, they often make little sense to the newbie engineer.  We read the words and some of us ask, “Really?  Why ?”.  We don’t have an answer.  I know that is how it was for me.   Eventually, I acquired the critical mass of hard knocks that were necessary to see the inevitability of those first principles.

These days I seem to practice Agile almost instinctively.   So much so, that I struggle to explain what I am doing, and why I am doing it.   In trying to unpack how I go about software development,  I tried to write down the working set of principles that I work by.

Once the words were on paper, I could see how they derive from the Agile Manifesto.  It reminded of a line from Gandhi, “I’ve traveled so far. And all I’ve done is come back… home.”

A very personal agile manifesto

Below, you will find my working principles for agility.  Notice that my words don’t exactly match those of the Agile Manifesto.  That is as it should be.  My own personal manifesto, so to speak, is necessarily colored by my particular work experiences, and my personal strengths, weaknesses and prejudices.

Again, let me emphasize, this is not meant to be consumed blindly.  Ask yourself why this is valid. Think about what implications these ideas have.  Don’t be surprised if you do not understand or even agree with some of these.   This works for me; this, among other things, makes me an effective IT worker.

  • The only acceptable ‘status’ is working software that delivers business value.
    • Don’t tell me the status. Prove it.
      • Where is the code? Let me read the code. Let me see it running.
      • Where is the test? Is the test correct? Is it adequate? Let me see the test working.
  • The earlier you know the status the better.
    • Short iterations.
    • Frequent feedback.
    • Continuous integration.
  • If you can’t answer the question, “what is done, and what remains”, in terms that the business understands, you’ve got nothing.
    • User stories, in strictly business terms.
  • Change is the only constant.
    • You will never get correct nor complete business requirements at any one instant.  The same applies to solution specifications.  Roll with it.
    • No design nor solution will ever be right the first time.  Roll with it.
    • Priorities will change.  Roll with it.
  • Information is indispensable.   Documentation, and meetings are incidental.
    • Putting words on paper, and communicating are two different things.
    • Just because you talk, talk, and talk, does not mean you are communicating anything useful.
  • If you are not putting software in production, for business to do business with, you’ve got nothing.
    • All the process in the world, all the fancy tools, the “best and brightest” people, mean nothing, if you are not delivering.
    • The answer to every question of the kind, “is this the correct process, is this Scrum, is this Agile”, is one simple thing.
      • If it helps you deliver, yes.  If you are not delivering, none of it matters.
  • No battle plan survives contact with the enemy“.
    • Human beings are unreliable.  Human judgment is unreliable.
      • Estimates are less correct, the farther out into the future they extend.
      • You will never anticipate everything that can go wrong.
      • Every process will break down.
      • Remember, Eisenhower’s advice, “In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable”.
    • You must be able to adjust and keep moving forward.   How?
      • There are no short-cuts.
      • This comes entirely from the attitude, ownership, knowledge, and skill, that people on the ground can bring to bear.
chalakanth

Is it a Bug or an Improvement – Irrelevant to agility

I see development teams struggling with the question – is this a bug, or an improvement.  A team that is agile (exhibits agility) would not care.

All the same to me

Tickets come my way.   Some are labelled bugs, and others, improvements.   To me, whose only mandate is to get the damn work done (aka agility), they all look the same.  What I do in response to either a bug or an improvement, is exactly the same.

All of the work requires analysis.   Gather all of the information that is available (documentation from client and analysts, production data, existing code, other tickets,  tests), and separate the essential business requirement from the solution that supports the requirement.  Then make sure that all stakeholders (clients, analysts, managers, developers, testers) have the same view of the matter, problem and solution.  Often, what they ask for is not what they need, and it is sometimes necessary to improve the solutions they specify. This requires constant and nimble communication.   Next construct the solution, which includes testing what we have constructed.  Finally, deliver the solution.

Every ticket is this same dance.

Why care, exactly

I can only think of two reasons for fixating on the difference between a bug and improvement.

First, the green-eyeshade brigade use the difference to figure out who to charge for the work.  A bug forces the development team to swallow the cost.  An improvement can be thrown into the client’s bill.

Second, it might help us figure out who to blame, or to use a more charitable perspective, it might point out where there is room for improvement.  A bug implies the developer messed up.  In cases where the bug is discovered in production, the finger sometimes points to the tester.   An improvement implies the business analyst, or perhaps the client missed something the first time around.

Of the above two reasons, I have sympathy only for the former, the billing problem.  This is mostly because I am low on the totem pole, and know very little about money matters.   Allow me to punt on this.

The latter reason leaves me cold, as you will see below,

What am I gonna believe – statistics or my lying eyes

Numbers can lie.

It is hard to have faith in statistics that classify work as bugs and improvements, when everyday I see my comrades-in-arms struggle to distinguish between the two.  More often than not, we shove tickets into one bucket or the other so work can move on. Typically, some power-that-be is breathing down our necks, or the task management tool is forcing us to make a selection.  Come time to review the work, we all know that the pretty pie charts, which the managers pass around, are nonsense.

I don’t need statistics to know the folks that I work with.  

I work with business folks, development managers, analysts, developers, testers, tech-writers, and so on.   After I spend a couple of weeks in the trenches with them, I know what their strengths and weaknesses are (don’t look now, that’s agility).

Take a developer for instance.   I read a developer’s code.  That tells me how she thinks through a problem.  I know if she can tell a story in simple, straightforward terms.   Can she find the shortest, most direct path between points A and B?

Consider a business analyst.   I read the documentation he creates.  That tells me if he simply knows the business or if he indeed is good at observation and analysis.  Does he see only the surface of things, or can he lift the hood, and identify the patterns and sub-structure that the surface covers?  I will know if his communication skills are adequate.   Can he accurately, clearly, describe what the business is, and what they are asking for?  The more I know the business (agility) the easier this gets.

I use the applications that they specify and build.  I know if they have empathy.  Do they know their users?  Can they walk in the user’s shoes?

I watch how they negotiate one on one conversations, and meetings.   This tells me if they know how to listen.

You get the idea.  Every little thing that a person does is a breadcrumb I can follow, especially if I know how to do that work myself (agility).

My recommendation – chuck it

If at all, only the bean counters need to worry about whether a piece of work is a bug or an improvement. Hide this question from the people that actually do the work. This question is irrelevant to the conduct of the work.   If you hear someone in your development team kvetching about bugs and improvements, make them buy lunch for the whole team (agility).

chalakanth

Focus on Agility, not Agile

For some time now, folks have been emphasizing that we have lost sight of agility, while frantically pursuing Agile.   There is little value in dogmatically following one Agile methodology or the other, Scrum for instance, while loosing sight of underlying purpose of such methods(in a word, agility).

So much Agile, so little Agile

To put it another way, Scrum, in and of itself, is not important.  Rather, why Scrum makes the recommendations that it does, is the important thing.

Take just one small example.

Scrum recommends we have a daily standup meeting.   I have been in teams that hold these meetings religiously.   However, it soon becomes clear to everyone attending the meeting that we are just going through the motions.   The meeting is just another way to waste 15, to 30 minutes of time every day.  In these environments I learned precious little in standup meetings.  Well, I did learn how many different ways there are to talk a lot without saying anything.

When I really want help from a team member I find a way to talk to that person on my own, one on one.   If someone else wants something from me, they come and find me, either electronically, or physically.

If I want to learn the status of the work, in my capacity as a tech or team lead, I pull down the code, build and run it.   I test the code myself, and I learn things that nobody tells me in standup meetings.

Information is essential.  The meeting is not.

If I was working with peers whose skills I had confidence in, and whose word I could take implicitly, the standup meeting may give me the information I am seeking.   However, more often than not, what I hear in a standup meeting falls well short of a full wallet.   Fine. I am not an engineer for nothing.  I don’t need that standup meeting to know exactly where each of my team members are.  I have other ways of skinning this cat.  This is not Scrum.  However, it surely is agility.

chalakanth

From our man in India

Man walks to the barber through rush hour traffic.  Out of 8 million ways to die, man feels like he has escaped 6 million of them.

Man has random thought on Day 5 – Is every f:@($ing family as fiercely funny as mine?

Startling notion passes through man’s head – My lime rice is better than my Mom’s. To his surprise, he is not incinerated by bolt of lightning.

Man has family in India.  Man has family in the US.  Man learns unwanted lesson – he cannot do justice to both at the same time.

Man’s Peddamma passed away in India.  She was a force of nature.  She was a pain in the ass (all forces of nature are pains in the ass).   Peddamma and Peddananna were like one of those large banyan trees, which provided shade and sustenance to a large extended family (10 aunts and uncles, 33 first cousins).  Man’s immediate family had even more special treatment.  His Dad is the youngest of the 10 siblings.  Grand Dad died early, and Peddamma and Peddananna raised his Dad to manhood.  That seamlessly extended to man’s sister and him.  Till they were about 10, they resided under his Peddamma’s stern and attentive hand.  However, for a long while now, his life and his Peddamma’s life did not intersect except for short periodic visits.  He left the protection of that banyan tree years ago.  She had been ailing for a long time.  And she was 92.  So when she finally said the big Enough, man felt reverence, and affection, but little pain.  Her passing was sad, but it was in the natural scheme of things.  It was not a tragedy.  If anything, the moment called for a celebration of her life.  My Peddamma lived a big life.

Meanwhile.  In the US.  God liberated a beloved aunt from her pain.  In return her family had to let her go.  To the Sweet Hereafter.

chalakanth

User experience in a back-office application

I can’t ever seem to explain what ‘user experience‘ is, leave alone make the case that it is important.  I say ‘user experience‘ and people hear ‘user interface‘.

User experience in an in-house, back-office application

Let’s try this.

Imagine I am speaking to a bean counter type middle manager in some sclerotic insurance company. I say this to him.

You make sure that the user knows the business.

I will build a system that a user can run the business with.

The user will not require training to use the system.

The system is not the business.

The system is a transparent tool that anyone with business knowledge will simply ‘get’.

The system will ensure that the user executes the business correctly, and efficiently.

New Enrollment into a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan

Consider new enrollment into a Medicare Part D plan (Prescription Drug Plan).  The insurance processor must know the business, described below.

  • A person comes to us, asking to enroll in a prescription drug plan.
  • In response we send a query to CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) to confirm that the applicant is eligible for the benefits she is asking for.  In industry jargon, this is the BEQ (Batch Eligibility Query).
  • If CMS finds that the applicant is eligible, we complete the application, and formally notify CMS that the person has enrolled into a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.   This happens through the MARx Batch Input Transaction File, which we send to CMS every day.
  • Then we wait for CMS to tell us that it has accepted this person’s enrollment.  This is through the Transaction Reply Report (aka TRR), which CMS sends us daily.
  • Now, the member is completely enrolled.

Say we build a software system that allows the processor to execute the above workflow.   In addition, say we promise that the processor can simply be put in front of the system, and she will be able figure out how to perform the business without any further training from us.

More than ‘user interface’

If we can build such a system, we will have mastered user experience.

Think about what it takes to accomplish that.

Clearly we are talking about more than proficiency in HTML and Javascript.  At the very least, we the engineers, have to know the business, and we have to know the business users.

chalakanth

Process is very often, much ado about little

The first principle in the Agile Manifesto is “Individuals and Interactions, over processes and tools”. A recent development task illustrated that point starkly – skill trumps process.

Time’s a wastin ….

I was working through a weekend, exhaustively specifying the UI (mockups, WORD docs, UML State diagrams) for a recent user story, when it occurred to me that we were wasting our time.

Here is more or less the user story I was working on.

As a documentation processor, I must be able to review all of the documents in a mailbag. Upon review, I must be able to accept, or reject each of these documents.

In the time that it was taking to describe the UI to its last gory detail,  I could create a working prototype of the UI, which would be close to 80% of what the user needs.  The business folks could take the prototype for a spin, and give me feedback, which could quickly iron out the remaining 20% of the work.

See, we are building this for processors in an insurance company.   They are not looking for sophisticated, space age UI.  They just need something that is easy to understand, learn, and allows them to do the work efficiently.

Between the business analyst and me, we could have the UI squared away in a couple of weeks – a single sprint.  Add a tester if you must.

I will test every damn line of code I write anyway, before this leaves my hands.   The tester is only a second line of defense.   Even without that tester, I can get this very close to done.

So why am I specifying the UI when I can just build the thing myself?  I am having to do this because, collectively, the primary resources that are assigned to this task cannot or will not, produce an effective UI on their own.  That amazes me.  I am shaking my head as I write this.   If you have several years of experience with this problem domain, with these business analysts, with these end users, and with the same UI technology, you should be able to take the user story, fill in all the missing details, and end up at the UI.

Again, here is the user story, for reference.

As a documentation processor, I must be able to review all of the documents in a mailbag. Upon review, I must be able to accept, or reject each of these documents.

Let’s think through this.

Analysis

  • Users have to review all the documents in the mail bag.
    • This means you have to list the documents to the user
  • So how do you present a list of documents.
    • A table, where each column is some attribute of the document, and each row is a document.
  • How do you make it easy for a user to study a large list of data that is in a table?
    • Allow filtering and sorting by various attributes.
    • Break up the list into several pages, and allow the user to page
      • Or simply allow the user to scroll up and down the large list.
  • How do you help the user make changes to large amounts of data safely, and correctly?
    • You must ask the user to confirm a large change.  Give her a chance to back out.
    • You must provide the user a way to undo a change.  Mistakes will happen.
  • What attributes (columns) of the documents must be included in the list
    • Leave out the attributes of the documents that are implementation-centric, which users have no need to know.
    • Pick the attributes that are business information.  Make a guess on which of these the user might be interested in.   Changing this list after review should not be hard.

Can’t the developer do this?

Analysis

If you have been developing UI for any time at all, you should be able to do the analysis I just did, and arrive at a similar, if not the same place.

Business Info

You have been working in this domain for several years.  That means you must already have all the business information you need.

You must know the business-centric attributes that characterize the mailbag and documents.   These become the columns of your listing, and suggest what the user can sort and filter on.

Language and jargon that end-users will recognize must also be familiar to you by now.  This is where static labels, feedback messages and such will come from.

Implementation

You have been working with your UI framework for several years.  So you should know how to implement the various UI features mentioned above – a table of data, sorting, filtering, paging, scrolling.

But none of this happened

But none of this happened, and a UI designer had to be brought in to spell everything out.   Why?

The Developer

Though they were well-versed with the UI framework, the developers have little knowledge of, or interest in, what makes an effective UI.

They are happy to be told what to build.  They want to be told what to build.  When left to their own initiative earlier, they produced a UI that so defied common sense and business reality, that the end-users’ job turned into a labor-intensive, error-prone, hell.

The Tester

If the testers know the lingua franca of the business (English, in this case), if the testers know the business, and if they know the end-users, the testers can judge if the UI satisfies the business need, simply by relying on the 2 sentence user story.

Unfortunately, testers’ familiarity with the business is uneven.  They are simply kids that compare a spec to delivered software.  If the spec is incomplete, or incorrect, these testers are thrown off course.

Further, more often than not, the testing leadership subscribes to the view that testers must only work off an exhaustively detailed spec.  Applying their own knowledge of the business, their own analytical and communication skills, is considered risky. The focus on learning the business themselves is weak.

Manager

Well, managers have all the power, which makes them responsible for everything, doesn’t it?

Who are they hiring?

The UI developer does not exhibit knowledge of effective UI design.    So how did we end up hiring him?

Say the manager that is evaluating the developer does not know anything about UI design himself.   So the manager cannot determine the developer’s competence in the matter.  That is reasonable and common.   A manager is constantly confronted with problems in which he does not have direct expertise.   Yet, she must hire people that will be responsible for solving that problem.    In that situation, a manager has to be able to recognize competence (and conversely, incompetence) as a characteristic separate from concretely observable skill.   Competence has an aura, a body language, a speech pattern, a look in the eye, as does incompetence. You have to be able to smell the bullshit before you see it.

When managers neither have concrete expertise, nor do they have a nose for fakery, we end up with these half-baked developers that require to be spoon fed.

Bad drivers

Many resources are able to learn and do more if we create the right environment.  This is usually some combination of large grained carrot and stick, coupled with the pushing of buttons that we can only learn by getting to know the resource personally.

Effective UI design for the corporate world, is a skill that can be learned by just about anyone in a few weeks, or over the course of a few UI development tasks.  If a developer has worked on UI development for going on three years, and still does not have a coherent, useful view of the matter, the leadership has been asleep at the wheel.

The same argument applies to the testers.   The management enabled them to be unthinking, ‘garbage in garbage out’ type grunts.

Skill trumps process

What a business analyst and a skilled engineer can take care, is now distributed over a whole platoon – The business analyst, the UI designer, the developer, the tester, tech and test leads to oversee the grunts, managers to oversee all of this.

Where the work could simply be a conversation between two people, now is a multi-step workflow involving many more people than that.  Two people getting a task done is just work.    Eight people, each with their own inputs, and deliverables, working on narrow parts of the whole, and that with their vision constrained by blinders, is a process.

What does the process buy us?   Nothing that I can see.  I see overhead. An 8 to 10 person team requires more management and book-keeping than a 2 person team. I see a machine with more moving parts, which exponentially increases the complexity, the amount of co-ordination required, and the number of ways the process can fail.

One or two committed, skilled engineers can replace the whole process. Why not learn to identify, hire and hold on to such resources? Why the fixation on process? Do you want get work done?  Or do you want to run a process?