‘Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it’. According to Wikipedia this quote can be attributed to George Santayana. These quotes (we will have another one in the next blog) are always apt and apply to many different occasions. The one quoted here could be used so often in Software and Quality Assurance in particular that it seems to be redundant to say it.
If you have said (or heard) or wished to say any of the following you have paraphrased the blog title:

  • We did this right last time
  • Someone has the information somewhere
  • I have forgotten what we did
  • The person who just quit/retired/left knew it but no one thought to ask
  • I remember solving this earlier
  • An ‘unknown’ known.

The list could go on and you are invited to add your own as a comment.
We do not spend our time knowing our own history with the following excuses:

  • We don’t have time
  • We don’t have budget
  • It is faster if we redo it over (and over and over and over…)

Meanwhile the solutions recede further into the background. We have had clients who (deliberately) lost every defect they ever created. They threw them out every year! It was more ‘fun’ to recreate the same solution each year than simply look up the older solution, resolve the issue, and move onto to new and more challenging issues. It was certainly easier – there was a half-remembered solution that could be used as if it was a new solution and then there was no time to provide a really innovative idea to move the organisation forward. This is okay of you have a monopoly and a captive market. Not so great if you are in a competitive market where your customers have choices.

Quality Assurance puts in processes to ensure that the existing items are remembered and reused and the creative efforts are expended on truly new items thus creating new business.