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People / Process / Technology: What Is the Best Fit for IT?

Process and / or project design comprises three basic components: people, processes, and technology. This dichotomy often leads practitioners to think of developing projects and processes like a three-layered cake. Mika Salo, at his How to ITIL blog, argues that these components are not like layers, that they can’t be artificially separated in practice – but the cake analogy still holds.

Project / Process Mixtures

Process, then people, then technology – these three cannot be prioritized and sequenced in a project. Instead, Salo compares them to a mixture. To get a tasty cake of effective project or process design, the ingredients cannot be used separately. Instead, they must be used concurrently and in the correct proportions to get the best possible results. It works like this:

  • A process is a series of events placed in an order which is considered to be ideal, optimal, or simply desired.
  • People are the impetus for the entire design. They determine the order, what is important or required, and how to apply work / technology to the process.
  • Technology involves the user interface and can automate (naturally) for an event or process, providing information necessary to complete a task.

Using more or less of one ingredient requires the adjustment of the other two. If one ingredient is left out entirely, it drastically affects the other two. (One could relate this to the example of quality, cost, and speed – you sometimes pick two and sacrifice the third.) Projects and processes are complex. Don’t be a reductionist! Always mix your components well.

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About Eric Anderson

Eric Anderson is a staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success. He is an intern at Computer Aid Inc., pursuing his master's degree in communications at Penn State University.

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