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Developers Must Feel the Pain of Operations

· DevOps Zone

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I firmly believe that software developers not being responsible for their software in production is as damaging, bad and stupid as bankers not being responsible for their losses. To further the analogy by paraphrasing a commonly used derogatory term about banking, developers not being responsible for the daily running of their software encourages “casino software development”.

Developers become enticed to take shortcuts, since they know they will probably be on a different project altogether once the software actually goes into production - it won’t be their problem anymore.

The disconnect between “software developer”, “tester”, “support engineer” and “systems administrator” that is so common today is one of the most destructive practices we have in software engineering. In many contemporary organizations, software developers rarely have to live with the pain of the shortcomings of their software, except for what turns up in testing. What is forgotten in that equation is that testing is often limited, it does not deal with the pain of evolving, improving and maintaining software in an ongoing operation.

There is one simple rule to human behaviour as it pertains to business and the workplace: most of us are not too concerned with pain/issues caused by our actions if it doesn’t fall on ourselves and it is highly unlikely that anyone will be able to pin it on you. It is an unfortunate order of things, but you only have to see the maintenance and operations issues in just about any software product where the developers move on after getting “sign off”.

In simple terms, I think the traditional way of doing software development is wrong. We should not be having “software developers”, “testers”, “system administrators” and “support engineers” as separate roles. They should all be a single roll rolled into one. Yes, we may have people with slightly different expertise, spending slightly different proportions of their time on the different concerns, but on the whole, the pain of both creating and running software should be one, shared by the whole of the team.

If everyone knows they have to live with the pain of any shortcuts they take today, they are much less likely to take them in the first place, and if they do take them, much more likely to do so as a carefully weighed conscious decision and much more likely to address them at the first opportunity when they encounter the pain. 

UPDATE
I omitted the role of “analyst” from this post originally, mostly because I think it more than anything shouldn’t exist. Everyone should be an analyst, ready to challenge and firm up requirements based on what the ultimate goal is.

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Published at DZone with permission of Wille Faler , DZone MVB .

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