Take heed of a software firm's technical debt, the amount of hastily written code that's never fixed and compounds and complicates the overall platform, new customer deployments and future development over time.
I heard Naomi Bloom talk about that with Bill Kutik last week on his namesake radio show. Then I read that Ward Cunningham first created this analogy. (Ward is an American computer programmer who developed the first wiki.)
Shipping first time code is like going into debt. A little debt speeds development so long as it is paid back promptly with a rewrite... The danger occurs when the debt is not repaid. Every minute spent on not-quite-right code counts as interest on that debt.
Ah, when the debt is not repaid how the interest rate compounds it...
I hope you are aren't offended by the word "crappy," because there's a lot of it out there and I'm going to use a lot of it in here. Please no need to read on if you are.
If you aren't offended, then take heed of companies whose employment brand and/or product/service brand have a high "brand" debt, where they keep building on top of bad year after year.
I don't care how you spin it, these days you don't need hackers to expose your "brand" debt. Your employees and customers will do that without a hitch on their laptops, smart phones and tablet computers across every social network known to mankind (and even that of alien civilizations). They'll share your good "code" too, but you know how it is -- we always aggregate and commiserate over what's bad.
However, those companies with lots of this credibility "debt" continue to code over the crappy and compound the problem, even though they think a new marketing campaign will help.
Like beer. Go with me here. Mainstream beer has been sold big in this country for many years (although sales have slumped of late).
I like quality, full-bodied beer. India Pale Ales preferably. I do not like mainstream Pilsners, at all, but from when prohibition was repealed until the late 1980s, those beers were basically the only domestic beers in the US market. That's thankfully changed.
So, if a crappy beer introduces two-stage cold activation -- cold and super cold -- or if you introduce a two-stage canned employee recognition plan -- cool and super cool -- or if you introduce a two-stage dysfunctionally indebted software upgrade plan -- smart and super smart --
Shouldn't they all really be called crappy and super crappy?
Crappy brand marketing code be gone, or your employees and customers will be.
(Cold and super cold? That's just stupid.)
Labels: branding, employment brand, marketing communications, marketing strategy, social networking, software development, transparency