Identifying and plugging money leaks

Did you know that you maybe losing up to Ksh 3.9M (USD 39,0000) every year?

Software development studios are notoriously hard to grow to profitability. Good reasons relating to the complexity of software itself exist but there are other ways in which software development firms are just plain wasteful.

In this entry we will be looking at some of the leaks that dry up your bank and how you can plug them up.

Meetings

Of course this had to be first on the list! Developer rates are still sky high. You would be lucky to find a good developer at a rate of USD50/hour. Now suppose you have 3 developers on the team. If you have an hour long meeting everyday then the cost of the meetings is

39,000 = 50 (rate) * 3 (no developers)  * 5 (days in the week) * 52 (weeks in the year)

Your situation may not exactly match up to the hypothetical one I just described but I am sure you can derive a parallel in your own organization.

How to stop it

  1. Never call a meeting without specifying the agenda
  2. Before pulling in a dev, ask yourself if it is really necessary that they be in that meeting
  3. Respect the timebox when time is over, its over
  4. When possible, meet in front of your scrum board. This should give context to the meeting enabling communication to be smoother and faster
  5. Make a habit of specifying Next actions after each meeting
  6. Keep it short! In fact if it’s a daily stand up, 15 minutes is the maximum allowed

Vague requirements

The process of requirement gathering is challenging even to experienced hands. It is however an important problem, if your developers don’t understand your vision then nothing on this earth can save your project from flopping!

A good process such as Scrum helps a lot in detecting and correcting issues but sometimes you need to dig to the heart of the issue.

How to stop it

  1. Have a clear vision.
  2. Eliminate as many layers of abstraction as possible, if you can sketch the app, do it! We are visual creatures after all.
  3. Talk to the users. You are not your user, make sure to talk to your target audience before the first commit is made
  4. Observe users. Sometimes the users just don’t know what they want, in such cases observe them. The time you will save will be worth the cost

Product defects

For those of us unfortunate enough to have had to maintain poorly written code, you quickly realize that solving the issues is akin to playing a sadistic version of Whack the mole. For every bug fixed two more appear randomly and the process continues on ad nauseam.

How to stop it

If the code is in production then carefully refactor it to make sense and then start the fixes. However if you are lucky enough and you are in the first weeks of development, it is more advantageous to come back to the design board and start afresh.

For a longer term strategy, you need to grow developers on your team.

  1. Setup a process to identify budding software designers within the developer pool
  2. Carefully monitor the progress of the designers. Assign mentors to guide them on their path
  3. Pay for a conference, or two, actually pay for at least one conference each year

Those are in my experience the top three ways that consultancies waste their developers time. What are your top 3? Talk to me on my twitter @ jchex

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Published by

jchencha

API Engineer