• Subject: RE: programmer productivity.
  • From: Jim Langston <jimlangston@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2000 08:42:31 -0800
  • Organization: Pacer International

A programmers productivity has to be looked at in light of a number
of factors.  Such as, is the programmer working on something that 
no one else has ever been able to do before?  Is it just a maintenance
task that should take but 5 minutes?  Are they implementing new 
technologies?  Could another programmer do it in half the time?

A non programmer could not state how long any programming task should
take.  If I'm working on new technologies that no one has implemented
before and have to do a lot of research, it may take me 3 days to write
3 lines of code.  On the other hand, if my boss wants a modification to
an aging program, I have that puppy so well coded I can make massive
changes in a matter of minutes.

If my boss wants me to make a change to some ancient S/36 program, it's
going to take a while unless it's a very simple change.  If my boss wants
a change made to a program already running in RPG III or IV, a few minutes.

None of these can really be measured by metrics.  I had one job writing
programs where I was doing stuff no other programmers could figure out,
including my boss, also a programmer.  Some of that stuff took me time
for all the research and testing.  One thing in particular wound up to
be about 10 lines of code that took me a week or two to code.  But the
boss was impressed, since no one else could do it at all.

An IS manager can know how productive a programmer is if he knows how to
program, or has worked with programmers for a long time.  An accountant
hasn't got a clue nor a MOVEL's chance in an RPG IV of ever being able
to figure it out.


Jim Langston

Date: Wed, 15 Nov 2000 09:41:16 -0500
From: "Mike Naughton" <mnaughton@juddwire.com>
Subject: RE: programmer productivity.

Well said -- I agree. OTOH, while I think some sort of measurement process
is important, I think that too much reliance on measurables can be a bad
idea. In my experience, the most successful companies have been run by
people who were able to make decisions based partly on "objective" factors
and partly on gut feelings. One of the worst was run by people who set up
decision matrices for everything and never did anything unless they could
justify it with a five-page memo. They ended up wasting huge amounts of
time and money on committees and consultants, and it was a very
frustrating place to work.

The trick (as usual) is to find the right balance. . . .

Mike Naughton
Senior Programmer/Analyst
Judd Wire, Inc.
124 Turnpike Road
Turners Falls, MA  01376
413-863-4357 x444
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