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Discussion on: How do you talk about code quality with management/clients?

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Ryan Latta

I use these questions to start the conversation pretty often.

  • Are you happy at the rate we are able to release new features to our customers?
  • How much does it actually cost for this product exist (Salaries, support, maintenance, infrastructure, development)?
  • Say each sprint costs $100. How much of that $100 goes to those new features that help the business and how much do we have to spend keeping things running?

The first one is almost always, "No," and you can ask why they think they can't ship new ideas more frequently (Not faster). Keep probing why we purposefully put gates up to keep things from going out the door.

The second one they won't know the answer to. I work with them to find out what their actual cost of ownership is. For everyone, this is like looking at how much you spend on fast food in a month. I then talk about what makes things cost the way they do and where they can invest in making that ownership cost lower.

The third question is called the innovation ratio and is similar to the second in that it demands we think of our investment in terms of value adding vs non-value adding. Quality keeps the non-value cost low. Invest in lowering that non-value amount.