5 Questions To Increase Systematic Reuse Effectiveness

May 13, 2013

Here are five questions to ask your teams to increase reuse effectiveness when evaluating a functional requirement:

  1. Is a requirement already met within the application or platform or is this the first time?
  2. If the capability already exists, does the current implementation provide the right extensibility? Often, existing code would need refactoring to meet a slightly varying set of requirements when compared to the original one. Take this as an opportunity to tease apart the abstractions necessary to capture the variations. What’s common and what’s truly different is the key aspect to figure out.
  3. Which other team or application has encountered this functional requirement before and how did they solve it? If you aren’t sure, ask around!
  4. Do we truly believe we are the first ones to stumble upon this need in the team/department/division/the firm? Try “laddering up” – as the Heath brothers call it in their latest book Decisive – incrementally and deliberately extract the key aspects of the problem you are trying to solve and look for places where solutions already exist. 
  5. If you find existing code to meet your need – evaluate it with a critical eye towards non-functional needs. Is it performant enough to meet the needs of your use case? does it provide adequate extension points / hooks to integrate with the rest of your application? is it a library or a hosted service? If hosted, what is the resiliency and availability strategy?

Too often, there is a bias towards implementing from the ground up due to either lack of time (don’t want to find out if other implementations or existing solutions exist and if they do, would they fit) or lack of trust (don’t want to use this team’s software or codebase or don’t trust that the quality of the implementation).

These aren’t exhaustive – what other questions come to mind?

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