Over Engineered – Cost of Bells, Don’t Need Whistles

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ClockWorkI have been busy exploring the varied and wonderful world of legacy solutions and modernisation compatibility.  My role has been listening, understanding and exploring business critical requirements and looking for solutions and scope from which to devise a way forward for transformation and improved efficient business practices. All at a cost! Are you willing to pay? Can you afford not to? Do you actual know what you want, what you need?

Now I really feel for the teams who after years of blood, sweat and tears and loyalty to an organisation have had to come to terms with seeing their “labour of love” criticised, or analysed as to what the future shouldn’t be like.  I hear statements like “we want to simplify”, “this is far too complex and can’t adapt”, “we over engineered this” . . . .

Having to make business wheels turn under business as usual pressures, the constant demand of changes and having to lovingly safeguarded  doing business using is a champions job and no small feat! However too often I am seeing this endeavour become a thankless task when modernisation comes into play.   I’ve been here!

We should thank these teams for the hours of devotion as it is their past innovation, solution engineering and practices that has helped a whole software consulting industry  learn what, why and the many “how” that helped develop new solutions, technologies and paradigms (Cloud/SaaS).

Decisions are made for the circumstance of the day.  Solutions built to support the needs of that era weren’t meant to last a life time and be infinitely flexible and accommodating.  At some point they will just not be able to cut the mustard any more. They will be no longer fit for purpose.  The world matched on . . .

Business moves on, commerce and industry devise new needs and opportunities, models and processes develop, opportunities demand new support models, and yet sometime the infrastructure that is built to support the legacy business model is forced under pressure to perform above and beyond in the new world model!

B-W-1I recall in another life where the development of the solution had to address the most bizarre requirements at the edge of every possible combination of circumstance and possibilities.  This is often termed “future proofing”.  Tell me who has the crystal ball and have really ever seen “that” coming”?

This leads to the classic costly over engineering and the long haul cost of ownership and maintenance change, fix and repair cycles, let alone integration, scaling and portability challenges.

I came across this coffee machine at a wonderful facilities provided by a very well established consultancy. It caught my attention in relation to this topic over engineering, bells and whistle and then the cost of ownership and maintenances. It got me thinking while waiting for my coffee.  Will it ever be able to make a good cup of tea? Was it ever meant to?

Too many moving part, accommodating people interaction experience verse their responsibility to (place the cup under the tap head), compensating for people effort and generally build complexity for more vulnerability and cost of ownership. How many times have you designed a solution around people capability over what would work simplest?

Kiss

Easier said than done when there is more than one engineer having fun!

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