FishingI often run into parallels between what I do in my day job, and what happens on the farm. The topics of sustaining, capacity and slack time, have been on my mind lately.

In the software world, sustaining work is effort applied to keep existing customers happy, or to maintain the existing code base in general. This may mean fixing bugs in released product, adding features to keep an existing product competitive and selling, or making changes to infrastructure to either keep a product line alive, or improve it so that more sellable features can be added to it. Sustaining work doesn’t generate revenue or increase market share. But, it often helps maintain a revenue stream, or prevent losing existing customers to competitors, in hopes they may eventually upgrade or buy new product in the future. In software, many companies dedicate about 30% of their labor spend to sustaining work; and this is always considered a very painful budgetary reality, since there is no direct ROI on sustaining work.