“We need the historical data” is a complete straw man – at least for tickting (e.g. Jira) and version control (e.g. Subversion)

People get attached to tools. That is not a bad thing. It only becomes a problem once we become biased and start to rationalize our attachment with questionable reasoning.

One of the straw man arguments I hear a lot lately is the access to historical data that would be “lost” if we changed the system. Strangely enough this argument is used for at least two very different things – ticketing systems and versioning systems.

People tell me that they would love to change to a system that supports the team in modeling the actual flow of the work, but they have to stick with (a centrally managed installation of) Jira because otherwise “they would loose all the historical data”. In a completely different context other people tell me that they can’t move from the version control system subversion to the much newer version control system git because they would “no longer be able to access the older revisions.”

Event though both discussion are from different contexts, they share some similarities:

  • Read-only access for the historical data was – upon enquiry – absolutely sufficient
  • The relevant data could easily be kept available with very little effort.
  • People had no experience with the proposed “new” tools
  • In both cases a boatload of support processes was dependent on the old tools

The real challenge turned out to be training the people in a proper way and decoupling the support processes from the tools.

So, if there is talk about the necessity to access the historical data as a way to discourage switching to new tools, you might want to reconsider what is keeping you from switching to tools that are more appropriate for todays challenges. Is it really the need for historical data?

This is the 21st century.
Storage has become cheap.
Hardware has become cheap.

If you want to keep your historical data accessible, just buy a box to do so. Way cheaper than any sophisticated migration strategy.

On the other hand new tools require new ways of working – and whether that is quite as easy is something completely different.

I don’t want to say that changing tools is easy, my point here is that keeping the historical data is a straw man reason for not moving forward.

till next time
  Michael Mahlberg

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