Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Top notch development teams don't torture their pr

Well, my team isn't top notched, but it is tortured with inadequate-slow computer equipment.  Does anyone know of any studies that have been done which quantifies the productivity increases.  I need to put together a business justification with $ in it and would like to cite some studies.

Slow Computers Suck
Thursday, September 25, 2003

Well, I have upgraded my Duron 800 to an Athlon XP 2400+, 1 GB RAM, 120 GB HDD.

I only did this so I could give someone the old Duron 800, because in my mind, it was more than sufficient.

Surprise, surprise.

I discovered that I work much better on the new system.

The fact that it's fast makes me be less angry while writing code, get less frustrated, etc.

This improves my productivity and increases my working time quite a bit.

Now, I don't know if there is a study about this.

software enthusiast
Thursday, September 25, 2003

Thanks -- but I agree.  I actually do development on my own home computer and I understand that what you say and agree.  Just was wondering if there was a study that said people are X % more productive if they have good machines over old ones.  I think I am going to make up some numbers if I can't find a study.

Slow Computers Suck
Thursday, September 25, 2003

We are also using old equipment to save money.
It sucks.

speeder
Thursday, September 25, 2003

It does suck to use a Duron 800 at work, then go home to an Athlon 3000 with a gig of memory and three Samsung 19" LCDs, which is basically used to read email.

Fred
Thursday, September 25, 2003

If you are a consultant and get paid hourly, you'll make more money if it takes longer to do things!  So it really doesn't pay to upgrade to newer equipment.

Well, except for losing projects, engineers, and clients due to higher costs and project times than competetors.

Dave Torok
Thursday, September 25, 2003

Fred, switch the systems.

Only half jokin here. If the situation would ever occur that I had to work for somebody else again and they didn't provide it. I'd bring in my own Aeron and big screen LCD.

jan Derk
Thursday, September 25, 2003

> If you are a consultant and get paid hourly,
> you'll make more money if it takes longer to
> do things!  So it really doesn't pay to
> upgrade to newer equipment.

You may earn more money, but you will also suffer a lot more while working.

Personally I don't like this kind of mentality. I'd rather do my job quickly and properly, enjoy it, maybe take a little less money, then go home.

software enthusiast
Thursday, September 25, 2003

"Slow", with all respects:

If you have to prepare a study to convince some numnut PhB that you need decent equipment, then you will probably be wasting your time.

My experience is that good equipment shows a measure of respect as well as a pragmatic understanding of the relationship between good facilities and work output.

Respect is extremely slow moving and is either there or it isn't, and likewise for the ability for a manager to understand that poor equipment is a morale and productivity cost. 

IE: if you have crappy and slow equipment, that probably indicates that the decision makers do not respect the people who have to use that equipment, and/or the work being done. Or, they HEAR you say that the equipment is bad, but they believe that it doesn't matter because they assume that they can simply flog you into working more hours to compensate.  Believe it or not, I worked as a contractor years ago for a moron who honestly didn't believe that shitty equipment was dragging him down.  If I had wanted to bill 100 stupid unproductive hours a week I could have.

A report isn't going to change any of that.  And I don't have any better suggestion unless you bring in your own equipment. Which I wouldn't.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, September 25, 2003

Dell is brooming out 2+ GHz P4 systems with reasonable disk and memory, XP and NIC included, less monitor, for $399.  What exactly more do you need as an argument to upgrade?

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Thursday, September 25, 2003

>> If you are a consultant and get paid hourly,
>> you'll make more money if it takes longer to
>> do things!  So it really doesn't pay to
>> upgrade to newer equipment.

>>You may earn more money, but you will also suffer a lot >>more while working.

>Personally I don't like this kind of mentality. I'd rather do >my job quickly and properly, enjoy it, maybe take a little >less money, then go home.

Uh, software enthusiast, Dave then said:

>>Well, except for losing projects, engineers, and clients due to higher costs and project times than competetors.

I thought it was pretty funny, really... and true.

Bored Bystander
Thursday, September 25, 2003

I think you could make an argument for buying your own laptop and ferrying it back and forth between work and home.  $799 gets you a 2 Ghz Dell.  You're buying and maintaining a home machine anyway.

It's nice to have all your files and personal stuff on one machine, rather than screw with Outlook sync, online "briefcases", etc.

Has added advantages of being able to use backed-up network storage at work for your personal stuff (encrypted .ZIP files), leeching the nice office printer, etc.

Bill Carlson
Thursday, September 25, 2003

$799 gets you the crappiest Dell Laptop on earth (the 1100.)  I had one from my employer.  It was so bad they bought me a ThinkPad R40 2 months after getting the 1100.

GiorgioG
Thursday, September 25, 2003

It is a case where we are a special group working on J2EE developement -- and our 512mb machines are no longer cutting it.  The problem is that there are other programming groups doing mainframe developement and they are happy with 256mb (they are just using their pc's as fancy terminal emulators).  So a faster computer for them really doesn't make their compiles any faster since they are being compiled on the mainframes.  My manager is behind going ahead and fighting the battle.  He just asked for some additional info and some #'s he could use to make the business case.  I am not after the $399 dell specials.  I am after 3ghz 1.5gb machines with dual monitors $3000 machines.  As I said -- I can make up numbers -- it is just that any outside numbers to support mine would be icing on the buisness case.

Slow Computers Suck
Thursday, September 25, 2003

Impromptu study:

Say you have a big codebase, and it takes you 2 minutes to compile the code on your machine, and 1 minute to restart the program and get back into it to run some tests again.

Say you do this cycle 20 times a day.  For 1 hour a day of waiting total.

Over the course of a year (250 working days).  Thats 250 hours a year waiting.  Which is 6 weeks.  Which is probably over $10,000.

By spending $6,000 on a mega system them might be able to more than half these times, thus saving them 6 weeks of you twiddling your thumbs a year.

...

Or they could buy you a 486 to work on while your other system compiles.

Andrew Hurst
Thursday, September 25, 2003

Those low end Dells are pretty much disposable laptops.  The keyboards are pretty damn cheezy.

anonymous
Thursday, September 25, 2003

Dear Slow,
                In my experience it's the dual monitors they'll balk at.The technical stuff they don't understand, so they'll let it pass if you insist, but you'll need to do a good presentation to show them how dual monitors improve productivity.

(And don't bring toilet paper into the eqation or they'll be cancellng your health insurance!)

Stephen Jones
Friday, September 26, 2003

In support of the dual monitor argument...

Do you have spare monitors in the office?  We did at the last place I worked.  I asked the boss to spring for a new video card (Martox 450).  He agreed, thinking I needed just needed an upgrade over the on-board video.

The day it came in I grabbed a second monitor, enabled the DualHead support, and started happily coding.  It was two weeks before he noticed the second monitor.  By then it was too late for him to argue.

Russell Thackston
Friday, September 26, 2003

I think more than the productivity, it is about giving respect to your employees and providing the best tools they deserve.

Moreover, there is something about programmming called "flow" which gets inturrupted when you take 1.5 minutes to compile compared to 8 seconds. It is imperative to make your boss realize that programers are highly productive (upto 10 times) in their "flow" periods than when they are not "in flow". I do not know of studies documenting it but it does see to be true in my 5 year experience with teams of all kinds.

As a head of the engineering team in India, I always insist on providing only the best equipment to my team (even if our US office gives us a fixed budget and we have to cut someplace else) .  Thankfully, it has now permeated through the culture and no body balks when we replace equipment every year.

P4 (>2.5 GHz) + 768MB RAM is standard equipment at my workplace (we are moving to 1GHz) and people who are encouraged to do all compilations and "heavy" work on build farms with multiprocessors and oodles of RAM.

Tarun Upadhyay
Monday, September 29, 2003

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home