Feb 17, 2015

Two teams development/maintenance model is broken

development, agile

How many of you work in a large organization where the team that develops the software initially is not the team that runs it in production?

This is an all too common model in some of the large enterprises I’ve been involved with and it fails miserably to provide good value for my clients. I am a strong proponent of the “you buildit, you run it” model and I covered this broken model before in other posts.

A recent experience at my current client is prompting me to post about this again. The scenario is as follows: we have an application that has been in production for about 8 months and is being maintained by a different team than the one that originally built it - a team I was part of. Over the past few weeks the support team started to notice a performance degradation and lower trough-put than expected. Last week this was escalated to us, the original development team, acting now as Tier II support for major issues. You can already see that we are very responsive and there’s significant lag time between detecting a problem and having a fix rolled out.

The original development team is completely removed from the feedback loop once the software is in production. This robs us of some great learning opportunities. How can we know what works well in production, what kind of patterns we should be using so our software is easier to change and troubleshoot.

In the end I guess this tactic stems form the misguided management belief that there are two classes of developers. The ones that write new code and the ones that keep the lights on. In the end I think this tiered approach hurts the enterprise by creating knowledge silos and barriers to communication.

I think we should at a minimum be rotating developers from development to operations and vice versa. We should consider more carefully how we manage development teams and transitions from one team to another.

There is more to say on this subject but I’m finishing this draft a couple of weeks after the initial writeup and tings are a little fuzzy. I’m sure I’ll write more on this subject.