Plan, do, review, done: a very unoriginal process for doing client work

Have you ever discovered something that already existed? We’ll this happens to me quite often and it produces a weird feeling. You are proud because you solved a problem but then when you find out that is something known to many you feel kind of dumb because you are not the first one with the idea. This describes the process we went through to get to our plan, do, review and done process.

The method we use to do client work seems to be successful most of the time, so there has to be some underlaying ideas that we might extract to get something more generic and useful for more people.

We gave it a lot of thought and discussion and came up with a very simple process that met our requirements. We must plan, then do, then review, if it’s correct it’s done, if it’s not then we need to start over.

To our surprise our discovery was already discovered, or at least something very similar to what we came up with. PDCA or Plan, Do, Check, Act. After the initial “ooh, yeah everybody already knows about that” reaction, we realize this was a good thing. Now we have formal validation of our idea. You see, this management method was developed by folks way smarter than us and since then, it has been implemented in very large companies in order to improve processes and products. So, this seems like a great foundation to start working on.

We learned a bunch about this stuff and like everything we put our hand on, we made it our own. The next thing we did, was to test it with a few real clients. This wasn’t hard because is essentially the same process we’ve been using for years. The only difference is that we now have a more formal way of talking about it.

So this is how the final process works
The process begins when you create a new project on your favorite project management software. Let me assure you that we’ve tried this on a few of them, with relative success. When you start, you are in the “plan” stage. In this stage of the process what you want to do is create goals and split those goals into tasks. A goal is something you know you’ll need review on. Goals are essentially lists of tasks that need to be done in order to achieve the goal.

Let me give you an example of a goal with tasks so you can get a clear idea.

Ok, now to the “do” stage. When a team member starts to work on something that person is expected to move that task into the “do” stage. Now it’s very easy to know what everybody is doing. When a team member finishes working on a task, that tasks gets checked off.

When the team completes all of the tasks in a goal that whole goal moves into the “review” stage.

In this stage a team member or the client (the reviewer) is responsible for reviewing and approving or rejecting the goal. The reviewer examines the work and decides if it’s complete and correct or if it needs more work. If a goal is rejected that goal and all of it’s tasks go back to the plan stage so it can be re-assigned and worked on again. If the goal is accepted it moves to the “done” stage and that’s it.

Every goal in our project moves through this process. This proved us that it’s very easy to understand the current status of a project just by looking at how many items are in each part of the process. This is a true win for us.

Let us know what you think of this process. Is it something you want to try? Are you already do something similar?

We are currently getting ready to release a tool called Blimp that is based on this process and adds a lot of unique features specially designed to this way of getting work done. We think it’s pretty good and it’s getting better quickly thanks to the feedback of real world testers.

If you’re interested in being part of the beta testers or getting notified when we launch Blimp don’t forget to sign up for the beta. We are launching pretty soon.