Process Success Measures

In 2002, I gave a lunchtime presentation on process design to Sun’s Six Sigma Black Belt community. In that talk I proposed two measures for process success. While any individual process will have its own particular success measures, two simple metrics for overall success for any process are:

  1. The process is used long-term by a variety of people.
  2. It is updated and improved by people other than the ones who created it.

I was reminded of those key measures this week when I used two very different but successful systems for which I have had the honor to be one of the architects:

  1. Sun Labs’ Archivist, an archival and clearance system for intellectual property
  2. El Camino Real Department of Missions (DOM), a management system for small congregations, many of them working and worshiping across cultural lines

Both the Archivist and DOM systems have now been in use for many years and are successfully managed by people who were not involved in their original development. I am proud of these projects and their phase transition from development to long-term sustained use. I am also pleased to see how well their pattern matches the two success metrics I proposed in 2002. Below is more about Archivist and DOM.


Sun Labs’ Archivist

In 2000, James Gosling, Jos Marlowe, and I started a two-year project to create a new archiving and clearance system for Sun Laboratories. You can read some of the history of this system in “Sun Labs: The Second Fifty Technical Reports A Commemorative Issue” by Jeanie Treichel, Katie Chiu, Christopher Wu and Jeanne Wang (Sun Labs Report TR-2009-101, published in March 2009).

We based the process for Archivist on a system created while I was the Process Architect for the Sun Standards group. That group needed a fast way to submit contributions to an SSO (Standards Setting Organization) such as the IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force), while protecting Sun’s intellectual property. Part of the SSO submission system was the Technical Information Clearance Process (TICP) which was a core piece of what became Archivist. The SSO submission process project team included Carl Cargill, Catherine Mccarthy, Lisa Goldman and Philip Rosenzweig. Sadly, Phil Rosenzweig died on one of the planes in New York City on 11 September 2001, before the SSO submission project was complete.

Here is the original Executive Overview for Archivist from 2000:

    Sun Labs is faced with a dilemma: we wish to derive the benefits of quality control and process while at the same time shortening our time-to-release. In particular, we wish to protect our intellectual property and increase our patent portfolio while simultaneously speeding up the time it takes to review technical information prior to publication. This process architecture is our attempt to resolve the dilemma. The Archivist is both an archival mechanism and a clearance process.

Think of The Archivist clearance process as a state dinner: the menu is fixed and protocol is closely observed. Think of The Archivist Fasttrack as a scramble-bar cafeteria where one can select individual dishes. The advantage of a state dinner is that it is safe, repeatable, and the participants know exactly what to expect (with regard to structure). The advantage of a cafeteria is that it is flexible and very fast. We expect that as the Fasttrack cafeteria grows in its selection and quality of service, the volume of users will shift from The Archivist clearance to Fasttrack clearance: thus, cycle time will be greatly reduced.

Here is the 2000 description for use of Archivist for clearance and archiving:

Clearance is distinct from archival. Archived material may or may not go through clearance.

Examples of archived material are:

  • An email or a note describing an idea
  • Audio and video tapes
  • Objects (such as boards)
  • Letters
  • Notebooks

Examples of documents that have been cleared are:

  • White papers (either on paper or the web)
  • SML Tech reports (paper or web)
  • Third-party publications (e.g. conferences, encyclopedias)
  • External presentations

Rule of thumb: if you think your document will be leaked or by any means published outside, use the process.

Sun Labs started in 1991, so Archivist was not the first archiving system for Sun Labs but it has been by many times the longest lived. In creating Archivist, we identified two key customers: Ivan Sutherland (Sun Fellow and Vice President), and Jeanie Treichel (Sun Labs founding Program Manager and Technical Reports Editor). Ivan Sutherland is famous in Sun Labs for his saying “It’s not an idea until you write it down.” There were many other reviewers and contributors but we knew that if Ivan and Jeanie were happy with Archivist, it would be good enough for everyone else.

Archivist has gone through several major revisions since it was created in 2000. It has been used by hundreds of Sun Labs staff in the US, UK, and France to enter over ten thousand items. Archivist continues in active use today under the management of Sun Labs’ technical staff.

As of now, I have 113 of my own documents entered into Archivist. Recently, Helen Gracon and I entered into Archivist most of the key documents from the Mentoring@Sun program. More about Mentoring@Sun is available in the recent Sun Labs Technical Report “Sun Mentoring: 1996-2009” (by Katy Dickinson, Tanya Jankot, and Helen Gracon).


El Camino Real Department of Missions

From 2003-2007, I was the volunteer Convener for DIEM (the Department of Intercultural Evangelism and Mission), providing oversight, finance, and management support to thirteen mission congregations (Latino, Anglo, and Asian) of the El Camino Real Episcopal Diocese. I served as Convener under two Bishops: the (late) Right Reverend Richard Shimpfky, and the Rt. Rev. Sylvestre Romero.

2003-2007 was a difficult time of transition for our diocese but nonetheless the elected and appointed DIEM members developed a solid process for Mission Liaisons, as well as the Mission and Vision structure for the missions as a group. The “Mission Congregation Liaison Job Description” is only one page long but it represents an amiable solution to years of discussion on how best to provide mission oversight.

In 2008, I was elected to DOM (the successor to DIEM) for a three year term. At last night’s monthly DOM meeting, I was pleased to get slightly updated versions of the process documents DIEM created in 2005 while I was Convener. DOM and its nine remaining missions is now managed by our new Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, with the Rev. Canon Jesus Reyes acting as Convener.

28 March 2014 – links and formatting of this blog post were updated

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1 Comment

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One response to “Process Success Measures

  1. Pingback: Business Process Architecture: What Project Managers Need to Know « KatysBlog

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