VI #048: Steer Clear of These 10 Hidden Dangers in Your Tech Project
Read time: 3.5 minutes
In the often high-stakes world of building tech systems and companies, overlooking the subtle aspects of technical risk management can quietly derail even the most robust projects and organizations.
How often do you stop to consider the smaller, less obvious risks that might be slipping under your radar?
It can often be these unanticipated or nuanced challenges that can disrupt your engineering team and impact your project's success the most.
From delivering dozens of software engineering projects for organizations ranging from startups to scaleups and Fortune 500 companies, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way more times than I’d like to admit.
Below is a quick list of ten hidden nuances that I’ve come across in working with a range of companies, and some practical steps that can be taken to navigate them effectively.
1. Overlooking the human element in automation
In tech, we often push for more automation, but it's crucial to remember the unique value of human insights and the risks that can come from ignoring them.
While automated systems may speed up tasks, they can't replace the nuanced judgment calls made by people. Encourage your team to blend their skills with automation also including considering human-in-the-loop approaches when incorporating AI, ensuring technology complements and enhances, rather than replaces, human expertise.
2. Underestimating the impact of communication gaps
Risks often escalate when teams work in silos, leading to mismanaged issues.
Break down these barriers by encouraging open, consistent communication. Using low-friction comms tools such as Slack, Linear, and regular catch-ups can help keep everyone in the loop about potential risks and their impacts.
3. Prioritizing features over non-functional requirements
It's easy to focus on new features while neglecting the underlying essentials such as system security or load capacity.
Regularly revisit these core aspects alongside feature development to ensure your project is solid from all angles.
4. Reactive rather than proactive risk management
Reacting to problems after they occur can be costly.
Shift to a proactive mindset by structuring your support and monitoring tools, processes, and culture to either predict or at least identify potential issues before users and clients do. This way, you can solve problems before they impact your project.
5. Neglecting the importance of a rollback strategy
Skipping a backup plan for new updates or features is a risky move, especially major releases.
Always have a clear rollback strategy ready to go so that if an update doesn't work out, you can quickly revert without major setbacks.
6. Allowing technical debt to accumulate unchecked
Ignoring technical debt is like letting unpaid bills pile up - eventually, it catches up with you.
Make it a habit to tackle these issues regularly, so they don’t turn into bigger headaches down the road.
7. Not prioritizing documentation
In the hustle of development, don’t overlook the power of good documentation.
It can be a lifeline for your team, especially when tackling complex, older, or abandoned projects. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time - keep it updated and make it accessible to everyone on the team.
8. Not learning from past incidents
Post-incident reviews are more than formalities; they’re chances to grow.
Document what went wrong and how it was fixed, and make sure these lessons are shared with the team to avoid repeat issues.
9. Inadequate continuous learning opportunities for the team
It goes without saying that our industry evolves incredibly fast and staying current is non-negotiable.
Support your team’s growth with ongoing learning opportunities such as online courses, webinars, and conferences. It’s an investment that pays off in keeping your team sharp and prepared.
10. Solely relying on internal expertise
Relying only on your team's or your own knowledge can sometimes limit your view.
Don’t shy away from bringing in external experts for a fresh take and targeted input on managing risks, such as from outside your team or outside your company. Especially for larger, more complex, or more ambiguous projects. Different perspectives and seasoned insights can add a valuable dimension to your team’s strategies and tactics.
By addressing these subtle yet potentially impactful missteps, you can significantly enhance your engineering team’s ability to manage technical risks.
If you’d like to delve further into this area, here some further resources you might like to check out:
- 9 Reasons to Optimize Development
- 3 Components of High-Performing Engineering Teams
- Why Tech Debt Might Be Your Silent Growth Killer (and How to Overcome It)
- From Arguments to Harmony: Aligning Your Tech Architecture and Organization for Growth
That’s all for today, I hope it helps. Catch you next Thursday.
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