The small subunit (SSU) processome is a 2.2-MDa ribonucleoprotein complex involved in the processing, assembly, and maturation of the SSU of eukaryotic ribosomes. The identities of many of the factors involved in SSU biogenesis have been elucidated over the past 40 years. However, as our understanding increases, so do the number of questions about the nature of this complicated process. Cataloging the components is the first step toward understanding the molecular workings of a system. This review will focus on how identifying components of ribosome biogenesis has led to the knowledge of how these factors, protein and RNA alike, associate with one another into subcomplexes, with a concentration on the small ribosomal subunit. We will also explore how this knowledge of subcomplex assembly has informed our understanding of the workings of the ribosome synthesis system as a whole.