I recently reflected on a significant experience from my early career that taught me invaluable lessons about the importance of proper testing and protecting the production environment. It was a challenging yet transformative journey that I believe holds valuable insights for others in the tech industry.
During my tenure as a manager of an application development team, we were responsible for critical applications supporting our clients’ web platforms. Everything seemed to be going smoothly until a seemingly ordinary day turned into a race against time.
Late in the evening, our senior vice president of IT approached me with a sense of urgency. It turned out that an issue had surfaced, causing a sudden and alarming increase in the value of user accounts. This had the potential to become a costly mistake if left unaddressed. We quickly gathered the team, determined to get to the bottom of the problem and find a solution.
As we delved into the issue, we traced it back to a single change made to a stored procedure that hadn’t undergone thorough testing. It was astonishing to discover that just one line of code, consisting of roughly 100 characters, had such far-reaching consequences. Our immediate action was to revert the change and restore affected accounts, successfully recovering over 95% of the unintended duplication.
However, this incident was far from just a simple fix. It demanded weeks of intense effort from our dedicated team, extensive analysis, and late nights at the office. The incident served as a wake-up call, prompting us to evaluate and enhance our change and release management processes. We elevated our test environments to closely simulate production conditions, allowing for more accurate load testing and data validation, preventing similar issues from reaching the live environment.
The impact of that one line of code extended beyond monetary losses and eroded client confidence. It fostered a collective understanding of the significance of our actions and strengthened the relationship between IT and the business side of the organization. We emerged from this experience with improved processes, a more resilient team, and a shared commitment to excellence.
This episode taught me that a single line of code can have a monumental impact. It reinforced the importance of meticulous testing and safeguarding the production environment. It also demonstrated the power of resilience and growth in the face of adversity.
I share this story not to dwell on past mistakes but to inspire others to embrace these lessons. Let’s strive for excellence in our work, continually improve our processes, and foster collaboration between IT and business teams. Together, we can minimize the risk of costly errors and create a stronger, more successful future.
Originally posted on LinkedIn June 8th, 2023.
Image credit – https://unsplash.com/@markusspiske