Everyone in the trenches of IT knows that Dilbert is drawn from real life - and [today’s strip]
http://dilbert.com/fast/2014-04-15/) is no exception. Does your IT organisation rely on knowledge that is held only by only a few people, or maybe even one person? This is known as the bus number or bus factor - basically, the number of people who would have to be hit by a bus for the organisation to be severely affected. With slightly less black humour, let’s say they win the lottery, get a dream job elsewhere, or simply feel sick and don’t come in to work one day. Regardless of the details, most organisations have a bus number of one.
That’s right: if a single person is missing, the organisation is unable to operate normally. Note that it’s rarely just one person, old Bob who’s been there since the beginning and knows everything. It’s more likely to be Alice the database whisperer, Carol who knows which arcane options to give the batch jobs so they’ll all go through in sequence, Dave who has the admin password to the core routers, and so on.
If you’re not in IT, this may seem crazy, but trust me, this is exactly how most teams work. Everyone knows they should get around to documenting this stuff, if not outright automating it, but there are always more fires to put out than there are hours in the day… This sort of thing is a serious business risk, too, but it’s invisible to management unless they go looking for it, and few managers are inclined to look for additional problems.
Everything muddles along - until Bob wins the lottery...