Thursday, August 07, 2014

The 'Will It Matter' Test?

In the past I've written about how scalability can be overrated. David Kadavy has a well written post on a similar topic: “Will it scale?” is a less important question than “will it ever matter?”:

If you aren’t a big company, especially if you’re a single-person company like mine is, you need to find out if it matters whether something scales or not before you go through all of the trouble of making it scale.

Kadavy's observation applies to streamlining your business. For example, in my business, I could develop an auto responder for interested customers. I could make it smart, too, attempting to figure out what type of service they're after and deliver an e-mail that's customized to this. But, for the quantity of inquiries I get, a simple, human response works perfectly. This part of my business doesn't (yet) need to massively scale.

I think, however, Kadavy's test should be applied to more than just whether to automate internal processes or not. I think it needs to be the question asked at every point in the software development cycle: will this matter? If not, why the heck are we doing it?

I think Knuth said it best: premature optimization is the root of all evil.

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