When I first began writing this article I considered the title “Corporate Memory Loss” but in the spirit of positivity I decided a more constructive slant was in order. So what exactly is the issue I’m referring to?
Corporate Memory Loss
Society has changed and today’s employees have a progressively different view on employment than previous generations. It’s common for employees to want to change roles and companies far more frequently, whether it be motivated by new challenges, more money or a prestigious new job title on linked-in.
From the perspective of a business this presents numerous challenges. The cost of simply hiring and re-hiring for the same positions coupled with repeated re-training is an obvious financial burden but perhaps the more pressing issues are related to knowledge transfer and business continuity.
In severe cases companies face major knowledge loss through each generation, causing premature legacy within valuable systems. We see the following characteristics :
- A constant need to “reinvent the wheel”
- Software becoming legacy too quickly
- Recreating the same systems (software or infrastructure) in new technologies without full justification
- Repetition in “discovering” or “re-discovering” business logic
- Key processes being forgotten or ignored
- Constant “Fire-Fighting”/ Troubleshooting of older systems
If these things seem familiar your company may be suffering from Corporate Amnesia.
However this isn’t a new phenomenon, the software industry has been (or should be) aware of the problem for decades – but the big banks, insurance companies, supermarkets … they aren’t software companies. If you want to know how the Netscape browser finally came to an end there’s an interesting read from Joel Spolsky written all the way back in 2000
The idea that new code is better than old is patently absurd. Old code has been used. It has been tested. Lots of bugs have been found, and they’ve been fixed. There’s nothing wrong with it. It doesn’t acquire bugs just by sitting around on your hard drive. Au contraire, baby! Is software supposed to be like an old Dodge Dart, that rusts just sitting in the garage? Is software like a teddy bear that’s kind of gross if it’s not made out of all new material?APRIL 6, 2000 by JOEL SPOLSKY
TDR-encompass focuses on assisting companies retain business logic by using technology wisely, documentation of processes and through the avoidance of legacy.