Thursday, September 29, 2011

Forget process, it's the tools

It's a mantra in my world -- Concentrate on People and Process, not Tools.  It's not the tools, it's the process.

Bah, humbug.

Ok. I admit. Given the choice I'd take a good team, and a process that fits the team, over good tools. Problem is, that's a Hobson's Choice. It becomes an excuse to avoid investing in good tools. The phrase is particularly irritating when it's used to disparage the concerns of tool users by those who don't actually use the tools.

Those people feel very differently about the tools they do use. Try swapping their BlackBerries for a Kiln, or Eclipse for Turbo C, and see how how they feel about tools.

Tools matter enormously. They shape the work and the process. Software tools are notoriously "rigid" (software is a very misleading word); if they oppose a process the process will break.

Given the rigidity of software tools choices must be made carefully. Often complexity and power should be traded for flexibility, simplicity, data freedom and reduced switching costs. Early adoption is usually a mistake.

Choose carefully. Be modest about expectations. But never imagine tools don't matter.

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