code prole

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coding for the proletariat since 1977

On Not Getting Run Over

My current employer has, in the last three years, been graced with a sudden influx of new business.  Revenue from what was originally considered by many within the corporation to be merely an adjunct line of revenue, has now become the mainstay of the company.  Suddenly we are the leader in this field.  Internally the group overseeing this cash cow is still small, 40 or so people out of nearly 1000 employees.  Through luck, and sheer force of will, our director has managed to carve out relationships with the considerably larger IT, Client Services, and Product groups, necessary to our survival.

Only those considerably larger groups are now starting to catch on that we, the tiny 40-person department, are the keepers of the gold egg laying goose.  Like many corporations this one isn’t nimble; changes in direction come slowly, if at all.  Usually the company has to run smack into a wall before realizing that the former direction was a bad one.

My fear is that our little group is about to get trampled by the big boys.  The IT department is roughly 10 times our size, as is Product Planning.  Once they get themselves turned around and pointed our way we had better be prepared to lead the charge, or we’ll get trampled in the ensuing rush.

Naturally we are just winging it in our group.  Processes exist only in people’s heads.  Nothing is repeatable, and when we do repeat stuff it is never done the same way twice.  We aren’t any more agile than our larger siblings, and we are no better prepared for an abrupt change of direction either.  Our only hope for survival is to document the hell out of what we do, to cement the ad-hoc relationships with the groups we depend upon daily/weekly/monthly, to be ready to hand over the reins of a smoothly running, highly organized process to those that want it.  Only by doing that will we be afforded the opportunity to create new processes and continue to lead.  Without documentation and without clear, well-defined procedures, we’ll be left to clean up the mess, while the bigger departments take over the new work.

It’s going to be a wild ride.

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