When Large Teams Shrink

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of thought that needs to be given to even “tip” conversions.

Archival
Archival is necessary when either a product has been canceled, or it is necessary to create an escrow of the codebase for legal, regulatory or financial purposes. The main concern is that whatever is archived is retrieval at any future time. This means that extra care needs to be taken to ensure that tool chain obsolescence, including hosting operating systems and hardware, do not affect the ability to retrieve the archived artifacts in a usable form. It may be sufficient to just make Version Control snapshots of each active or support required branch/tip and to generate exhaustive reports and database dumps for all other tools.

One other step needs to be taken – preserve the captured data on media that will not degrade easily. In other words, do not use magnetic media.

Conclusion
One word of warning to Management – during a downsizing it is not uncommon for those who can to find alternate positions early on and not wait to be laid off. If the organization in in a terminal condition, but wishes to archive its current product codebase and intellectual property, it may well be worth paying a bonus to retain those in CM who are able to do the archival. If the organization is not in a terminal condition, then be sure you retain enough people who truly understand CM and the tool chains to keep things running properly. Failure to do this will not result in any immediate problems, but it will be increasingly costly as time passes. This is not a self-serving warning; this is based on years of consulting experience where I was brought in specifically for archival and post-downsizing situations.

[1] We will continue using our definition of a Small Team – 1-10 people, with 3-7 being the norm.

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