A coworker of mine went on vacation for two weeks. Right before he left, he pushed some changes for a web application we support from our test environment to our production one, and then left it in the hands of our intern. Several days later, we started getting complaints. Since our intern has been doing mostly cosmetic changes and isn't familiar with coding, she asked me for help. Together, we spent several hours digging into code that was extremely complex and that neither of us had familiarity with. After calling the coworker on vacation, he remoted in and fixed the problem (apparently server related). A few days later, we get more complaints. We dig in for several more hours, with just as little progress as before. Again, it turns out to be a simple server issue (one that was actually caused by the last fix). Now, several days later, there are MORE problems.
What lessons can potentially be learned from this mess of a situation?
- Don't push code right before you go out of town or are otherwise unavailable
- If you are the only person who supports an application, and you're going to be unavailable, try to leave a little documentation (even if it's something very basic) on how it works to save people time when it breaks
Note: I'm not trying to pick on my coworker who went out of town... he was very willing to help us even though we called on his vacation, and he had no reason to believe that this application would break. I do think, however, there are some ways to prevent things like this from happening... ways that I fully intend to take advantage of when I go out of town for my own vacation in August.
Posted by on Thu, 3 Jul 2008