Monthly Archives: March 2020

Stress testing Skills Liquidity

Corona virus has raised the importance of Skills Liquidity or “key person dependency”. As well as managing the normal skill liquidity risk, organisations now need to consider the “summer holiday” effect. During the summer holidays the productivity of many teams plummets for an extended period because of skills liquidity. The absence of one or more team members means that the team experiences a significant reduction in throughput and a massive increase in lead time. To address this, organisations need to move quickly address risks that are normally annoying but are now significant.

To address skills liquidity it may be necessary to redeploy people from non-core applications to core applications. So the first step is for organisations to classify applications as core and non-core (possibly with more refined classifications).

Then create a skills matrix for each application ( I like the way Cat Swetel describes it here ). We end up with a skills matrix like this one:

Screenshot 2020-03-29 at 10.30.18

Then we create a scenario where team members are unavailable for any number of reasons such as:

  • Being ill for a few weeks
  • Looking after sick friends or relatives
  • Unable to login due to lost internet capability
  • Called up by the government to assist in army or medical capability

We assess the scenario impact on the ability of the team to fix problems or make critical emergency changes:

Screenshot 2020-03-29 at 10.30.33

Where we do not have enough skills liquidity (options), we need to create them. Bring new people onto the team, possibly former team members if they are not supporting other core applications. Creating new features is probably higher risk and can reduce the stability of the application. The new team members can refactor the application, create automated tests and pay down technical debt. They can automate the build chain and generally make the application more resilient.

Core versus Non-Core

A follow up on core / non-core and the risk profile of each skill / component to follow.