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In my experience, putting a process in place makes the work more efficient,
but I also believe that one should not be enslaved to it. In a consulting
job, imposing a methodology--even if it's just set dates and clear
milestones--keeps them honest. If, for example, if you tell your client that
if they change requirements after X date, it will cost them an extra 80
billable hours for a rewrite, then you have nudged them just a little closer
to maturity. Or made some extra money $ -)
Hard work and talent go a long way, but I think I'd prefer, for example,
that any airliner I ride on be built from a blueprint and a
However, every client is different, and if you take a one-size-fits-all
approach to process, you will run into problems. They might have a nascent
process of their own, or they might have their own unique type of chaos. In
either case, you may have to adapt your process, adopt a new one, or use
Andrew's Postmodern Ethic of Work (PEW) process. The dinosaurs had pretty
effective processes in place, until something changed.
In a repetitive work environment, documenting, say, successive releases of
the same software or products produced from the same code base developed by
the same development team (actually that sounds a little boring, but I
digress), a process either grows or you implement one. Again, a process
enables predictability and stability, and is more applicable, I think, to a
high-production staff environment than to the piecework of the contractor.