• Subject: Re: monitoring contract programmers
  • From: Jim Langston <jimlangston@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 13:18:45 -0800
  • Organization: Pacer International

How do you know that programmers sitting in your office at a computer
are working and not goofing off?  Maybe instead of programming they
are posting messages to the midrange.com mailing list...ooops <g>

Seriously, though.  If you read the regulations on overtime pay, you
will see that there are two exceptions to who gets overtime pay.  One
being managers, the other being technical professionals, such as 
engineers and programmers.  I tried to figure out how they came up
with their reasoning, and I think we've answered that question in
our discussions here, is programming an art or a science?  According
to the government, it would seem, it is more of an art.  Where the 
time to do anything is dependent on the artist (programmer).  Since
some programmers may take longer to do the same thing, the company
shouldn't be responsible for this, so they (the company) doesn't have
to pay overtime for the programmers extended time needed to do it
(hey, this is how I interpret it, any other interpretations?).

Which brings us back down to the same problem we've been discussing,
how do you track a programmers productivity?  Lines of code?  Hours
spent in front of a tube?  What about the programmer who spends half
a day researching something and then finishes it the rest of the day.
Then you have another programmer who doesn't do any research at all,
spends all day doing it, and takes twice as much code.  Who was more
productive?  Personally, I would say the one who did the research and
did it in half the code.  I'll bet you dollars to donuts that his/her
code is going to be a lot more maintainable.

But now you do have a problem.  How do you know if a programmer at home
is working on the problem, or goofing off?  Maybe he hasn't touched the
system for 4 hours, but how do you know he's not doing research?  Or
reading newsgroups and mailing lists, like this one, for solutions 
(and no, I do not consider this mailing list "goofing off".  I consider
this very excellent research and on going training).

You basically are going to have to do it the exact same way you do it
now.  Give them a project and a time line.  How close to the timeline
do they come?  If they are coming in at the timeline about the way they
are now, they're not goofing off.  If it suddenly takes them twice or
three times as long to do anything, bring them back into the office.

Some programmers (myself included) just can't stay focused at home,
too many distractions.  I tried working from home once for a couple
weeks, I just couldn't do it at the time.  Too many distractions from
the wife, kids, the dog and Diablo <g>.

Allowing people to work at home is a big step, and a totally different
approach needs to be taken in managing them.  No longer can you think
that cause they've been here 8 hours at the computer that they put in
a full days work (heck, half the time that's not even right with someone
at the office).  A lot more individual managing needs to be done.  I
have read a lot of articles on the subject, and I would suggest you 
look some up.


Jim Langston

Date: Tue, 28 Nov 2000 10:52:17 -0600
From: "midrange" <midrange.mail@sfmco.com>
Subject: monitoring contract programmers

We are entertaining the idea of telecommuting.  Are there any tools on the
400 or any third party tools that will allow you to monitor programmer
activity in the system?
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