I was on a webinar recently and someone mentioned the bus factor, which is a phrase I’d heard before, but not in a long time. Essentially this is the number of people, or maybe a certain specific group of people, who can get hit by a bus before your organization has serious issues.
Do you explicitly know who is important in your organization? I’m sure most executives think their personal factor is 1, meaning they can’t disappear without issues. I’m not sure I agree, though certainly we can’t lose all executives at once. In one small company I worked in, we never put more than two execs in a plane or car for a trip out of town, just in case something happened.
This week, I wonder what your bus factor is in technology. If you think about your projects, your applications and infrastructure, do you know who the critical people are and how many are needed to keep things going? Or could everyone quit and new hires would take over. In other words:
How many people can get hit by a bus before your org fails?
I think that in Redgate, we don’t have many people that are irreplaceable. We have four advocates, and while we have different strengths and abilities, we can fill in for each other. Likely our advocate factor is 4. We’d struggle slightly if all four of us left, though I think our sales engineers and some developers could fill in for us.
In development, we move people around regularly, and while they are valuable and great contributors, I think we could work around a large number of them leaving. I have no idea how many would cripple the company, but it would have to be a number much greater than 10.
It’s worth recognizing when you have people in critical positions that are hard to replace. Do you have a single COBOL programmer still keeping something going, or maybe just one long time employee that knows how the BizTalk server runs and no one else makes changes. Think about it today, and let us know if you think there are single points of failure in your organization.