In this episode, we cover another anti-pattern that everyone has experienced.  However, the CYA approach is not often seen as something to avoid.  There are downsides to the cover your assets approach that need to be seen for what they are so our use of it is tempered.

Defining the Cover Your Assets Anti-Pattern

The site has a short and sweet definition of this anti-pattern for us. [Click Here to See The Page]

“Document driven software processes often employ authors who list alternatives instead of making decisions.

This definition provides us something close to analysis paralysis but from a different starting point.  There are many reasons why we stumble into this anti-pattern.  It can be to provide plenty of information for a decision.  On the other hand, it can show our lack of desire in making a choice.  The anti-pattern arises when our goal is to make a decision, communicate it, and move forward.  Too much information about the decision process can be a waste of time.  Even worse, it can confuse the reader as to what decision was made.

Clear and Concise

When you are tasked with making a decision and communicating it, the KISS method is best.  Keep it simple.  Declare the decision, state it clearly, then add color and commentary only if necessary.  Your audience may desire more information.  However, there should be other ways to find that content.  Do not confuse the answer by providing a reason for the same.  Think of it as the reader asking the question, “What did you decide?”  Answer the question directly instead of boring or confusing them with a dissertation.

A Time and A Place

There are plenty of vehicles for communicating the how and why of a decision.  SDLC documents are not those vehicles.  The assumption we make in reading design and implementation documents is that the decisions were made with a proper amount of research and thought.  The reader is not going to assume you decided in a vacuum or without forethought.  Thus, there is no need to defend it in these documents.  Let them know the decision.  Then, they can focus on getting it implemented.

Rob Broadhead

Rob is a founder of, and frequent contributor to, Develpreneur. This includes the Building Better Developers podcast. He is also a lifetime learner 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 and a few about becoming a better developer. In his free time, he stays busy raising five children (although they have grown into adults). When he has a chance to breathe, he is on the ice playing hockey to relax or working on his ballroom dance skills.

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