Developers do the work. It’s just the truth. I can coach and teach but I don’t make the product go. It’s a frustrating a rewarding thing to be the coach. But it also means that I have the responsibility to get the team whatever they need to get the job done. Today I want to talk about tools.
My developers often complain that their computers are slow. When I have confronted the people in a position to change this, they make sure everyone’s anemic machine has 8GB of RAM and a few gigs of empty storage and declare the problem solved. But I sit with the developers while they work. They spend, literally an hour a day waiting. They wait for code to compile, they wait for IIS to start, they wait for programs to stop crashing, for solutions to close and open. In general, the machines waste their time and the developers know this. Almost every developer I know has a great system at home. It’s his baby and what he will measure his work machine against. When the work machine fails this comparison miserably, the developer understands that the company doesn’t appreciate and value his skills and time as much as he does.
If we consider for a moment that each person on a team of 20 developers is billing us roughly $150/hr, then each day we spend at a minimum of $3,000 paying them to wait and get frustrated. This figure is typical back-of-the-napkin math and is lacking detail a specificity, but in general it’s accurate.
What can $3,000 buy? A pretty great workstation that would stop the waiting for one person. So, in 20 days, you could “break even” on buying the whole team new machines to cut the wait time. This seems like a no-brainer. Not only would productivity go up, but the team will understand that they are important and investing in them is something that the company does willingly and frequently. You want your dentist to have the best tools when he works on your mouth; I want my developers to have the best tools when they work on my projects. As I said above, they are the ones who do the work. They are the heart and soul of the IT department and should be treated with the import they deserve.