Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Avoiding the Over-Engineering Trap

"If it ain't broke, it doesn't have enough features yet." This old engineering joke addresses a tendency among geeks, companies, and especially within the IT consulting industry: Over-engineering. Nothing will gobble up resources like it, and it's a trap that a lot of companies and consulting firms fall into. Sometimes, the "big picture" of the business can get lost in the quest for fancy, far-fetched functionality. That begs the question: How do you avoid it?


Admit You Have a Problem: Recognizing that you are over-engineering something sounds easy, but it's actually the hardest part. In order to do that, you need to be thinking about the business context and business value while you're up on the whiteboard ideating. This is the only way you can ensure your use cases are grounded in real-life user scenarios.

Drop It Like Its Hot: If it works, stop writing code. Build the minimum number of features you need to get the job done. Focus on delivering a simple, quick, and valuable solution to the user.

Check Yourself: Make sure whatever data you have coming into your system is good. That data validation is much less complex to deal with at the doorway than inside the house.

Embrace Your Inner 3-year-old: Never be afraid to ask "why". Ask your team, and all of your partners and vendors, that question early and often throughout your execution process. If they can't give you an immediate answer based in real life, it's time to re-evaluate the practicality of what you are building.


Think you're heading down a windy, far-fetched engineering path to nowhere? Idea Entity specializes in reining in development efforts and refocusing them on real, measurable value for the user. And we love the question "why". Contact us at info@ideaentity.com.



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