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I am writing this article as a sequel to the Measuring Programming Progress By Lines Of Code article. As I already stated there, software Managers want to have some metric to estimate their workers. They are always seeking for a precise and measurable way to know the programming progress and the developers productivity and performance. If you read the previous article, you know that I don’t think that counting the lines of the program source code is an efficient metric at all. Let me please talk about another common metric – measuring the amount of extra hours a software developer has done.
The extra hours issue is handled totally different in different areas in the world. There are places where developers are working until very late hours while in other places the developers are “dropping their pens” at 17:00. It is obvious that it is a matter of culture, a programmer won’t behave as he wants, he will do what his managers wants and what his colleagues are doing. If everybody are expected to work many extra hours and you are not doing it, you might find yourself out of the company. Well, you can understand what I think about this metric just by looking at the picture above, but although a picture is worth a thousand words, I have to state my opinion.
If someone find himself working more than 10-11 hours a day, on a daily basis, he will become a very tired and unhappy person. On the longer run, the company will lose because happy developers are a very important asset. If your team is built from frustrated people, you will fail! Work is very important and it should be, the workers shall be devoted and productive BUT there are other things besides work. People have families, hobbies and many daily arrangements they have to do, if a manager can’t understand that and prevent those things from his workers, he won’t be able to succeed because he need energetic and vigorous people around him not walking zombies.
At the bottom line, you need to release products and if you have a very productive person, you shouldn’t care if he is doing that by being only 5 minutes at work and by lying all day in the beach. From my experience, good developers will do a much better work in half of the time the other developers are doing it. Some managers will say that if they got a successful programmer on their team, why not gaining more out of him and ask him to work more hours. I say that you can’t “squeeze the lemon” for long periods, the lemon will loose all of its juice. Believe me, a good developer will always create better products than the other developers, even if they work more hours than him. You should not only look at the amount of time taken to finish a product, you should also look at the quality of the product which can’t be gained by more hours of work.
Despite what have been said, I must say that there are exceptions and before deadlines for example, I would expect everyone to contribute and sacrifice more than usual. If you are not doing that on those stressed periods of time, your manager have all of the rights to be angry and unsatisfied. I just hope that those deadlines don’t happen every month, otherwise it will be like the “Wolf, Wolf” story.
I know that you want me to provide you with a better metric and not just complain about other metrics. What can I say, you are right! So I will publish a post, in the following weeks, about how I think programmers shall be estimated. For now, I will be happy to hear your thought and opinions about the “Extra Hours” metric…
Tags :developerseffortextra hoursmanagersMeasuringmetricproductivityprogrammersSoftwaretired
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