/ devops

Flying Solo Breeds Automation Ideas

We are a decent sized team here at work, all very talented folks. Like any human, we get sick and even though we work remote sometimes when you're sick you just can't hang. That was the case this morning. Two of my teammates called in sick, which I figured ok no problem. But when my third teammate said he'd been battling a stomach bug all weekend and overslept I knew there was a problem.

I surely can fly solo today while my team is on the mend as they've covered me when I've been sick or under the weather. But all of this has made me start thinking about the truck factor.

What is the truck factor?

Basically the truck factor equates to how many people can disappear (sick, leave, quit, etc) before the company's operations shut down. With my team we've calculated this and we have a truck factor of 2 which isn't bad for a startup. But what if those last 2 folks ended up leaving or being out for an extended period of time? The company would suffer and our customers would bare the burden of our staffing problems.

I like to write code. It's a profession and passion rolled into one. So this morning I thought to myself that it would be a good idea to figure out new and creative ways to automate ops and support processes to be autonomous. A lot of what we do here is procedural and redundant, so even subtracting the theory of truck factor, automating processes will make us more efficient and focus on important work and projects which are time sensitive and business critical.

So I think I'm going to take an initiative in the next month or so to automate processes, create bots/workers, etc to do a lot of the routine tasks that we do each day. That way if our team suffers Ebola or whatever, the machine will still run. I have all sorts of ideas so I'm sure this will take me a while, but today was a great reminder of why automation matters.