On “the bus factor”

  1. Identifying and mitigating the risk
    1. Why do you consider it high risk?
    2. What are you trying to mitigate against?
      1. Website unavailable
        1. Quality hosting
        2. Rackspace 24/7 support contract
      2. Hacking
      3. Holidays
        1. Yes, this is the biggest bummer (for me) and risk for you
        2. Ask my wife: 1 holiday in 8 years without laptop. Don’t ask her how much I’ve worked while we’ve been on holiday…
        3. So, I’m around if you need something urgently.
        4. But - incentivised me to make sure your setup can run without me, and is reliable. If I’m needed, something went wrong and we sort that, because you should be independent.
      4. Busy working on other projects
      5. Bus factor (death, injury)
        1. If you’re relying on organisational memory, you’ve got a problem already
      6. Need updates done quickly
        1. Retainer
  2. If you’re relying on
  3. Build systems that are reliable, not systems that need people
  4. No one’s left who understands the code
    1. At a larger agency there might me more who do - or they were brought in as contractors
  5. Not all staff at agencies are in-house
    1. This comes as a shock to many, but just because there’s a team of 10 doing what you need at an agency doesn’t mean they’re permanent staff.
      1. I have sat in agency meetings, hired in as a freelancer for a few days’ work, and been described as in-house. If you know my ethics you’ll appreciate how that deception made me feel.
    2. Or that they’re experienced (they rarely are on a team that size, as much cheaper to hire 2 experts and 8 juniors)
    3. Staff move on, and the person who knows your project may not be there when you need them
  6. Bankruptcy is a bigger problem for agencies
    1. We’ve bootstrapped and by not going for “Growth uber alles” we’ve been profitable almost every year (even with Covid). With our ‘flexible agency’ approach our wage bill matches the work coming in.
    2. Beware of everything disappearing if the agency goes bankrupt. Getting the phone call that you’ve got 48 hours to get your website off their servers is stressful.
      1. This is why we encourage you not to end up in this situation in the first place: to own everything we produce; have the code hosted on your own infrastructure, your own web servers etc
        1. We make less money (The hosting commissions we miss out on are eyewatering!) in return for you having safety
  7. A large team doesn’t mean there’s someone who can step in and work on your project (up to a point)
    1. Skill
      1. No surprise that projects are most efficiently worked on by those who know them.
      2. In a large enough agency someone will have the skills; in a middle sized agency - they’ve got to come in cold and work out what’s going on
    2. Workload

Obviously this applies only to companies up to a certain size - but if you’re larger, you’ll have in-house teams to deal with these functions anyway, so the risk is negligible.