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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

No Pain - No Gain

No Pain - No Gain (or so they say)

I am recently learning that the saying “No Pain – No Gain” really depends on the software you are developing and the culture of the company you may have recently joined. I believe this phrase can be broken into 3 rather more accurate sayings which also depict a journey that a 10 years old start-up company could expect (base on my experience so far) when trying to move to a well-established company that can stand with its head high and proud.

Step 1 in the journey : Pain – No Gain

For the past 6 months, I have witnessed really painful development practises, long winded and very complex deployments, framework architecture which is so swollen with already existing FREE off the shelf software, and to end it off, a bastardised agile methodology.  “Pain – No Gain” sums up the company’s future.
If we have to leave the companies software and culture in its current state, it will collapse on itself.  It’s becoming more and more difficult to meet the customers’ requirements because the underlying framework is over engineered, and was designed by junior developers, and self-acclaimed architects at the time, and was never intended to cope with the modern requirements of today.
This part of the journey lasts the longest. It usually requires people of strong will and determination to break out of this phase. Skilled developers and architects that join are usually gone within 2 weeks because it takes too long to get over the “change inertia”. This is also years of turning a blind eye to the issues thinking they will go away.

Step 2 in the journey : Pain –  Gain (Feel the burn!)

Once we managed to get the right resources in place to start the change, things become more painful. One of the first things we tried to correct, which is critical to the business process is implementing SCRUM into the development team.

As most people who have implemented Agile methodologies in their work environment would know,  is that Agile has this amazing ability to show the true issues happening in a company - and this was no different for us. This is not a bad thing, and should not be feared. The more we know about what’s going wrong, they more we are able to fix it – evolving “Pain – No Gain” to “Pain – Gain”.

This is where Pain starts turning into Gain. The gain we are achieving may not affect the customers yet, but it’s definitely going to help with the future. This step can last a year or 2 due to the following factors:

<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         Spreading the cost of redevelopment and migration in a low risk fashion
<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Changing a company’s culture is hard work – there is some Stockholm syndrome involved for certain individuals. This may sound weird, but the guys who worked with the original framework have come to love it  - even though its killing them
<!--[if !supportLists]-->·         <!--[endif]-->Implementing Agile methodologies take time, and usually only start coming right after having at least 6 sprints. Unconscious habits only happen after doing it for long periods of time

Step 3: No Pain –  Gain (Now what?)

This is the final step that all companies should strive for in the journey. This is the part where all the right practises are being followed; the software is amazing to work with for the developers. The long winded deployments are done at the click of a button and the users get an amazing user experience.
Unfortunately this step is hard to come by in the real world – but it is achievable. Sometimes it happens unnoticed because we are always busy. When you get to the “ what” point, let me know. I would be interested to see if you end up back at “Pain - No Gain”.

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