Increasing the Bus Factor on Frontend

Steffen Pedersen
Sep 8, 2018 · 3 min read

Right now, as I am writing this, I am the only frontend developer on my team. This means that I am unofficially responsible for all frontend and it also means, that it is not tested very well. It may sound livable, but it can be dangerous in the long run if one team member works with a specific area.

It has been like this since another frontend developer got a new job. He was by the way also a senior developer. Now all frontend issues has my name on it, and that is really not the best way of managing the work of a team. What if I also get a new job? Then the team is in a very bad situation.

Normally, this is called the bus factor. It is the number of people in your team who can put your project in a bad situation if they get hit by a bus. Our bus factor on the frontend and the style guide is about 1.25. It is obviously a weird number. Of course, there can’t be 0.25 people. What I mean is, that I know most about frontend and the style guide, but there are a few team members who have looked into the project. The style guide is by the way a project where all frontend is being defined, and where CSS and JS is being outputted from.

I have been frustrated that there hasn't been much help or discussion about our front end. With that in mind, I chose to write an email to our team. I wrote it so I was sure to get it properly formulated.

Hi guys,

I think we should have a talk about the style guide.

Since X said goodbye, I have been alone with frontend development and the style guide. If I get hit by a bus, the team are missing knowledge on this specific area. We can easily continue this way, but I don’t think it’s good for our team, my role in the team or my further development.

I think a solution would be pair programming and more in-depth testing. It might also help if the style guide is going to be a part of the main project. Then it would not be an alienated project. That is maybe for an other discussion.

It is not like the style guide is a whole different world. If you know HTML, SCSS, ES2015 and the architecture ITCSS and naming convention BEM — then you know the most essential.

Knowledge sharing is important, especially when that knowledge depends on one person.

Think about it and we will have a talk soon.

Steffen 😀

We talked about the topic at our Sprint Retrospective. Here we defined some action points, which is something that we can improve on in the following sprint. In this case, it was more pair programming and a presentation of the style guide. The other team members would also do more thorough code reviews. I am also trying to make even more documentation on frontend development. I am right now preparing a workshop on frontend and the style guide.

I would love to hear if you have been in a similar situation. Have you also been alone with a certain part of a project?


Thank you for your time!

If you liked this, then please 👏 and follow.

Steffen Pedersen

Written by

Hi, my name is Steffen, and I work with the interwebs 💻

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