Sunday, 19 July 2009

Clear out the attic!

At home
The other day I was clearing out a cupboard in the kitchen. A cupboard that had started to accumulate miscellaneous objects other than kitchen items. I wanted to make more space for more food-related items and to sort out what wasn't needed anymore. Therapeutic...

You discover things that have been kept "just in case", "I'll need this one day" and other forgotten items. When I'd packaged some items that I couldn't decide if they were needed or not for further storage in the attic. Off to transport to the attic...

The attic contains more items that haven't been used in a while, also important items that are used seldomly, but also other things that are kept "just in case", "will come in handy one day...". Hmmm deja vu!

And at work
I've noticed this pattern at my work environment. Before going on holiday or a leave of absence I'll clear my desk. Inevitably there are items, papers and documents that haven't been used in a while, haven't been useful in a while, "this will come in handy one day" items.... Deja vu!

Yes, I'm a gatherer. Not so much a hoarder but I'll organise things in a way so that they can be found for later usage - but that can mean that I gather a lot of things. In one sense this isn't a problem - the periodic clean-up will take care of this.

It shows an example of things that can happen in work practices. I've been reflecting recently on reflecting - thinking about the time we use to review, re-review and go over past work.

This is part of my daily work - I read past reports as an input into the next work phase, I review what the teams and I have learnt and how we're applying those lessons. I look to see if the current strategies need modification due to what we've learnt.

The Product Attic
But what isn't always automatic is the clearing out of the product attic.

Where there are legacy systems we don't always budget for some of the housekeeping. An overhead will always be applied in the budget - but the continuous housekeeping is something that sometimes just sits on the side.

Remember to budget for the feature interactions and the analysis/review that it needs.

How many test cases have been superseded?

This is a problem that can exist in large test bases - a new feature is added which has interactions with several other features. Some of those other features may no longer operate in isolation - i.e. there will always be an interaction with another feature. Are those "old" test cases that look at that feature in isolation re-evaluated? (I'm not thinking of unit tests here.)

Of course, this re-evaluation should be taken as part of the new design (elements can be considered as maintenance/housekeeping) and captured.

The next planning exercise (in the next phase/project) uses that experience.

The experience of the feature interaction is important. The feature interaction mindset should be kept in focus. Reflecting on those experiences is an important factor.

Are you keeping up with your product housekeeping? And are you reflecting enough?

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