Overkill is a theme among many anti-patterns.  The cover your assets approach is one of those types where it just goes too far.  There is nothing wrong with providing a solid paper trail and communication.  However, we can make documentation the point and miss the true goal of a project.

Cover Your Assets Defined

This anti-pattern is the same as documentation for documentation’s sake.  We get lost in administrative red tape, but do not make it to analysis paralysis.  The whole project becomes thinking about the architecture and documenting it.  However, decisions do not get made.  Instead, there is a lot of discussion and options provided.  That all adds up to loose ends and is a waste of time for the readers.

The Anti-Pattern In Action

The funny thing about this anti-pattern is that it results in documentation that often sits on a shelf.  The readers quickly see how pointless the documents are and stop reading.  That creates a lot of busy work without productive outcomes.  It is an anti-pattern of spinning your wheels.  A lot of activity is occurring.  Yet, no progress results from it.


Avoiding The Anti-Pattern

The best way to avoid this particular anti-pattern is to keep your focus.  There is a “why” for a project and for the architecture.  That includes the related documentation.  When the work is not contributing to either understanding or productivity then adjust.  That adjustment may be a change in process or halting something completely in a paradigm shift.  Of course, the best way to avoid the problems in getting away from this situation is to never get into it.  Keep things simple and direct.  That goes a long way towards following a proper and useful pattern.

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a longtime student of technology as a developer, designer, and manager of software solutions. Rob is the founder of RB Consulting and has managed to author a book about his family experiences as well as a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although a few have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax.

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