The Carrying Cost of Code
Michael Feathers has just written a post on The Carrying-Cost of Code: Taking Lean Seriously. He says,
No, to me, code is inventory. It is stuff lying around and it has substantial cost of ownership. It might do us good to consider what we can do to minimize it.
I’m not sure I can see the analogy of code that’s in production to inventory. Code that hasn’t shipped, yes.
But all code is a liability, I think. When code is in production, then it’s offset by the asset that is the functionality. Whether or not the net is positive is another question.
There’s no doubt to me that code, whether in production or not, has carrying costs that are larger than generally realized. Perhaps it’s a depreciating capital expense?
Carrying costs are larger than we think. There’s competitive advantage for companies that recognize this.
It’s something that takes up space. It takes maintenance. It takes attention. It does have a substantial cost of ownership–larger than we think.
The analogies may be failing me, but I think Michael’s sentiment is correct.