Washing your hands… and testing

I’ve been speaking to a lot of medical people the last couple of weeks. Mostly from small private practices but hoping to expand. It’s fascinating. The doctors do try to keep records, but sometimes their handwriting is illegible and although that means patients occasionally get the wrong medication it’s usually corrected by talking to the patient to remind them of things. And usually they want to call a patient back for an interim checkup, but in reality those appointments never get made. Second opinions are advised but the other doctor is never available. Many of the surgeons don’t wash their hands.

I ask them if they worry about skipping these things. They say, yes, they know it’s good practice to do them, but they don’t have the time. There’s pressures of work, their profit margins aren’t high, they don’t have the luxuries that some of the bigger hospitals and practices have. They want to do the right thing, but there’s pressure from the practice manager and finance director. You know it is, it’s totally understandable.

You understand, don’t you?

Don’t you…?

You don’t?

It’s funny, because I hear similar things a lot from developers. “Yes, I know writing unit tests is important, but management won’t allow it… We’re just a startup, there’s a lot of pressure… Deadlines don’t allow us.”

As a developer you are professional. And as a CEO or CTO in a startup you are hiring professionals. If the people you hire aren’t allowed to do their job professionally you are killing your product and your company. If you do not write code as a responsible professional you are killing your product and your company. Thorough unit testing is not a luxury or an extra, it is a requirement for healthy, sustainable technology that can grow. If you don’t have it you will stunt the growth of your operation in the same way feeding your baby chips and chocolate for its first two years will ensure he or she remains forever in life’s slow lane.

Or you can choose not to call yourself a professional, or not claim to be hiring professionals. As long as you’re honest with yourself about what you’re doing, there won’t be too many nasty surprises down the line.