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Defining a Process

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Having a Process

Step one in defining a process is having a process.  There has to be something you're doing that you want to define.  This may seem obvious, but if you spend much time working on process improvement you will eventually have someone ask you to define a process that doesn't exist.

Customer: "Bob, we want to document the QC process for environment models."

Consultant Bob: "Great, who QC's these models."

Customer: "Well, if a model causes the render to fail we send it to a TD to troubleshoot."

Consultant Bob: "It's not really QC if you wait until something breaks to check it out."

Customer: "That's why we need you to define the process."


In this case Bob is being asked to create the process.  No one is actually doing the QC at this point so there is no existing process to define.  In addition to documenting the workflow, it needs to be decided who is going to actually do the QC.  It is going to take a bit longer to figure out the steps from scratch than it would have to refine existing work.  I recommend reading my Action Plan for Process Improvement to see where this article fits in the grand scheme.


Documenting the Process

Let's take this example to the next step.  We're going to assume that two people are doing the QC for the environment models.  This is either because they always were, or because we've assigned them the task new since now one was doing the QC.  This alone should lower the number of errors that are found at render time.  It is however possible to reduce further the number of errors found at render time and to most likely reduce the QC workload as well.

Any two people you set to a job are going to do the job differently.  In fact, any one person doing a job is going to do it differently sometimes.  Here's where defining and documenting your process help.  Talk to both members of the QC team.  See what things they look for.  Also, if the information is available, look at what the most common cause of errors is at render time (for me it was usually someone using a texture that only exists on their desktop).  Use these sources to create one master list of QC items.

The actual documentation for the process does not need to be complicated.  I've seen many examples where a consultant will put together very detailed and confusing documents with charts and buzz words and such.  I prefer going to opposite way.  Here's an example of how I would document the process:

  1. Get the Latest version of the model and it's textures.
  2. Open the Model.
  3. Check all items on the QC Checklist.
  4. Either report problems, or sign off on the Model.

The Checklist is the key item here.  This should be simple as well.  Here's a short example:

  1. Do all textures exist?
  2. Are all textures in the correct folder?
  3. Are all textures referenced relatively?
  4. Is all the geometry grouped under one parent group?
  5. Is the parent group named with the model name?
  6. Are all parts of the geometry names?

There would be more on the list obviously, but that's outside the scope of this article and would be specific to the individual workflow anyway.  At this point you'll have to QC personnel both checking the same things on every model ad hopefully checking your most likely issues.  This should not only reduce the number of errors at render time, but also make the process reliable and repeatable.  What I mean by this is you should get the same result whether QC Guy 1 or QC Guy 2 checks a file.  Also, you should have about the same number of errors coming out of this process on every project.  This reduces surprises and makes it easier to budget accurately.

The next step is automation.  Now that you know what you need to check, you'll probably see items that could be checked by a script saving man power.  That's for a future article though.

Last Updated on Thursday, 07 October 2010 03:44  

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