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Wes Weeks

"Don't you work?" a colleague of mine asked after seeing me leaning back in my chair with my hands behind my head for the umpteenth time.

"I'm waiting on the debugger" was my response.

And that is exactly what I was doing.  Trying to debug an application with a machine whose hardware configuration was identical to the secretary who rarely does much more then fire up an instance of Word.

This is not the only company I've worked for where I have found myself in this predicament.  On the contrary, I've yet to accept a position or contract where I have been given a box worthy of a development machine.  In fact as a consultant, I often find I'm getting the leftover dregs as the employees get the upgrades.  But even their upgrades are rarely top of the line workstations designed with productivity in mind.

As a developer, It's rare I have less then 10 windows open at a time.  I usually have copies of Sql Server, IIS, Visual Studio.Net, Enterprise Manager, Query Analyzer and several browser windows open.  Often I have multiple copies of several of the development apps open.  I often have remote access to one or more machines going as well.  Firing up an ASP.Net app to debug often takes several minutes. The machine usually has to be rebooted once a day.  I waste time in small, usually 2-3 minute increments throughout the day.

The result?  I estimate I end up spending an average of 30-60 minutes a day waiting on the computer, leaning back in my chair, hands behind my head... 

The cost? Let’s take the low end of 30 minutes a day waiting on the machine.  You would still have wait time on a better system, so let’s make the assumption that a high grade workstation will only cause 10 minutes of dead time a day.  That leaves a difference of 20 minutes a day.  Times 5 days a week = 100 minutes a week, times 26 weeks over six months = 2600 minutes lost.

Divided by 60, this is 43.33 hours of lost productivity.  Multiplied by a modest hourly rate for a consultant of $75 an hour and the company has spent $3250 literally for nothing.  Half that amount spent at the beginning to obtain better hardware would have paid for itself in just 3 months time and would have given me another full work week to try and meet the deadline.

Developers and especially consultants who are on the clock at a premium dollar, should be spending there time working as much as possible.  A higher end workstation and multiple monitor setup increases productivity.  And the truth is, I hate to wait. 

Posted on Wednesday, September 28, 2005 5:28 AM | Back to top

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