Friday, August 17, 2018

Stop Rationalizing Bad Coding Practices

Rant. (Surprise.)

Want to work alone for long periods without testing or running your code? Want to avoid doing TDD or at least test-immediately-after-coding because it breaks up your flow? Don’t want to be disturbed discussing things with your testers, product owners, and users because it takes time away from coding?

Believe it or not, there are times I’m OK with this.

I’m OK with the practices above if:

  • Your business stakeholders and users are happy with the system in production
  • Your rework rate for defects and missed requirements is near zero
  • You have fewer than six to ten defects over several months
  • You have near zero defects in production
  • Your codebase is simple to maintain and add features to
  • Static analysis of your codebase backs up the previous point with solid metrics meeting recognized industry standards for coupling, complexity, etc.
  • Everyone on the team can work any part of the codebase
  • New team members can pair up with an experienced member and be productive in days, not weeks

If you meet the above criteria, then it’s OK to pass up on disciplined, PROVEN approaches to software delivery–because you are meeting the end game: high-value, maintainable software that’s solving problems.

The thing is, very, VERY few people, teams, or organizations can answer all those questions affirmatively if they’re being remotely honest.

Some people, way to the right of the bell curve, and I’m talking like the miniscule number of folks out on the fifth standard deviation, can pull this off. Not intuitively, but after years of study and hard work and a metric crapton of failure.

The rest of the 99.865% of the software industry has decades of data proving how skipping careful work leads to failed projects and lousy care of our users.

Those of us who’ve been around the block a few times see the awful results time and time again: Dysfunctional organizations who can’t deliver critical internal systems but once every two or three years. Product companies folding due to angry customers and bad reputations. Miserable teams of humans trapped in death march scenarios.

Do not rationalize your concious decisions to do poor work with “I’m more effective when I just…” No. No, you are not. You think you may be, but not unless you can answer the questions above “Yes!” with confidence and honesty.

Stop rationalizing. Stop making excuses.

Own. Your. Shit.

And clean it up.

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