It’s summer time in the Northern hemisphere, and many of us are getting ready for our annual holidays. It’s really great to get away from work for a while, but some people don’t get much relaxation because they are constantly interrupted by emergency calls from work. There are things you can do to make these calls less likely, and that’s just as important a part of holiday planning as booking the flights and the hotel. If you’re going away tomorrow then it’s probably too late to do these things now, but you could get started as soon as you get back, so that next year’s holiday will be more restful.
Think about the things that only you can do. What would be needed so that someone else can do them? Could you provide written instructions, or teach somebody else how to do it? If so, then share that knowledge. It will have benefits for you and your organization all year round, not just when you’re on holiday.
One great way to reduce the impact of being away for a while is to automate some of the tasks you usually carry out. You should only automate things that are well understood, reasonably frequent, and fairly simple. If you don’t understand the task thoroughly then automation will go horribly wrong. If the task isn’t reasonably frequent, then the effort needed to automate it will be too high compared to the effort it saves. If the task isn’t simple, then it will be really hard to automate, and the automation is likely to miss out on some complex cases. Even if the task is fairly simple you should always see if you can simplify it even more, before you automate it. Many routine tasks have built up complexity over the years, but could be much simpler if we started the design again.
Like sharing knowledge, automation is something that can really pay off in terms of benefits every day of the year, not just during holiday season.
Technical debt is the effect of compromises that you made in the past. Like financial debt, it is not always a bad thing, but you should never have too much, or let it be outstanding for too long. Here are some examples of technical debt that need to be managed:
Every IT organization has some technical debt, but if you don’t actively manage it then it can get out of control and result in lots of incidents, problems, and urgent phone calls, probably just when you want to lie on the beach soaking up the sunshine.
If you have a culture of continual service improvement, then you’re probably already sharing knowledge, automating tasks, and paying off technical debt. If you don’t, then why not think about how you can start?
Continual service improvement doesn’t need to be a big, complex process with lots of documents and activities. It’s mainly about attitudes, culture, and behavior. You can start by simply noting down things that ought to be done, prioritizing them, and picking one or two off the list whenever you can. Over time you will find that things are looking much better, and next time you go on holiday you’ll really be able to relax.