Costs of Inter-team Tech Consolidation
Sometimes consolidation of tech stacks between teams is pushed for. The reasons vary. Here are a few that you hear often but that might not have super-clear payoffs.
Easier to Switch Teams?
Some would say that consolidating techs makes it easier to switch teams.
But when someone switches teams, it’s almost always a proactive thing. That person chooses to switch teams because of something he hopes to gain. It’s his choice. It’s not thrust upon him. He’ll go to the other team with eyes wide open. He and his teammates will anticipate him to be less proficient until he learns the new skills.
Plus, when does this ever happen? Relatively rarely. Optimizing for this is like optimizing for other mythical creatures like the designer who writes code or the product owner who writes tests.
Easier to Support?
Consolidation is sometimes motivated by the feeling that we have too much to support.
We can only support what we have capacity for, true. But if we start consolidating, how much do we consolidate? And to what? And when do we then expand? If we lock in our support to only a certain set of things, which is surely a subset of the universe of tech choices, what happens when that universe changes (tomorrow)?
We need to make sure not to shut the door completely and permanently to tech in our zeal to consolidate. We might even accidentally shut out some tech that makes our support easier by its addition. ,
Easier to Learn?
Sometimes we want to consolidate because there’s just so much to learn, and we’re tired.
We have been here before. There’s some new tech thing, and it promises great new results but looks vaguely like the generations of things before it. We’re skeptical. And maybe we should be. But we’re also the technologists of the company. We are likely the most progressive people around when it comes to learning new tech. It’s our job to find the best tools for the job, and yesterday’s best will likely not be best for long.
True, we can only learn so much at a time. But we need to embrace change generally. To avoid this is to fight against the nature of our field.
So, should we consolidate techs between teams? Maybe. But maybe it’s not going to be the total solution we imagine it to be.