Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Is Rev Control really necessary in a small company?

We don't do much software development at my company. In fact, I would have to say that we don't do any at all. We use off-the-shelf packages that have been slightly customized by the VAR that sold them to us. When we need something modified, we contact them to update the SQL code or an occasional Crystal Report. I can do both, but I prefer to let the reseller take care of it in case there are dependencies that I might not know about.

Our web site is about the only thing we modify on a regular basis ourselves. We didn't design it but we sure do maintain it. Some weeks there are dozens of changes. Some weeks there are none. Most of the changes are content related - new aircraft listed for sale, new employment opportunities, an occasional aircraft added to our charter fleet - stuff like that. There are two of us that work on the website - me and the General Manager's son, who I am training.

When a user requests a change to the website they usually send us an email with the new content. If they try to do a verbal I insist they put in in writing so there are no assumptions or misunderstandings. Usually they send the changes to me and I decide if I will do the work or assign it to my associate. We have one user who insists on sending the request to both of us. I guess he figures his chances are better that it will get the attention he wants that way.

Unfortunately, this can cause some problems. I have trained my assistant to be responsive to requests like this since we are a service department and don't produce revenue. In other words, the employees are our customers. I work from home several days a week so I am rarely in the office at the same time as my co-worker. He is part-time so I schedule my time on-site to be when he is not there. This provides the best coverage for support issues.

I made a change to one section of the website last week and my associate made a change to the same area this week. Unfortunately, we duplicated effort - his post was added to mine and we ended up with the same entry twice with slightly different wording and layout. He was just being responsive to the user request and didn't realize that I had already done so. I suppose we could say it is the user's fault for sending the request to both of us but I would never do that.

My point is that even in a small organization where there are only two administrators, it helps to have some sort of revision control system in place, even if it's only a central log that is checked before updates are made. I can only imagine how complex it must get in a large enterprise with a few or even a dozen programmers working on the same website. Of course an alternative would be to assign different parts of the website to each of us but we just aren't that big.

No comments: