Bus Factor

2 min read (202 words)

Another interesting model to keep in mind is the Bus Factor (cf source).

This concept is useful to figure out the impact on the team or the project if a teammate is suddenly not available anymore (or hit by a bus).

It brings up some interesting questions. Who knows what? How do we share our knowledge? Is a part of the product or a piece of technology only mastered by a single teammate?

What is at stake here is risk management. Some events are very unlikely to happen but can have a dramatic impact on the organization and the business.

As an engineering manager, it’s part of your job to deal with these risks.

Each identified risk can be enriched with two properties:

  • 🎲 The probability for the event to happen
  • πŸ”₯ The criticality if it happens

Depending on these properties, you can define the appropriate actions, and follow their resolution to mitigate the risk.

A critical property of a software is its resilience. The same applies for a team, if you unfortunately lose a teammate, the team should not fall apart. Encouraging documentation and knowledge sharing is a key practice to mitigate the Bus Factor.