Every second matters: the hidden costs of unoptimized developer workflows

Every second matters: the hidden costs of unoptimized developer workflows

“We’ve already automated our setup so much, there is nothing left to do.” We hear this sentence frequently when talking to founders, DevOps practitioners, and engineering managers.

“We’ve already automated our setup so much, there is nothing left to do.” We hear this sentence frequently when talking to founders, DevOps practitioners, and engineering managers.

As a software startup, the most valuable resource you have is arguably your colleagues in engineering. Developing day in and day out is tougher than you might imagine if you’ve never done it before. In this post, I want to highlight why every second matters when it comes to workflows of developers. What should you automate and how do you decide what to automate? What are the costs of unoptimized workflows?

Seconds pile up

Unlocking a smartphone using a 5-digit pin takes 2.21 seconds including failed attempts. It gets more interesting if you multiply this by the number of times the average adult (US-data) unlocks their phone every day (79 times). Multiply this by 365 and you will end up with 60.553 seconds which equals 1009 minutes or nearly 17 hours a year unlocking your freaking phone. That’s an entire day (awake) that you spend unlocking your phone!

You buy the new iPhone with a FaceID. All of a sudden you have almost one day more for leisure — every year.

Compare the mobile phone scenario to a 10 person engineering team with an average cost per headcount per hour of 70$. You end up with annual costs of nearly 14.000$. Beware of seconds, they matter.

The first-order effect is known, but the following effects are ignored

In the above scenario, we looked at the direct time lost due to inefficiency. But an often overlooked component is distraction. Whatever takes you out of deep focus mode is fatal to your productivity. Even little distractions lead to an enormous time to recover the task process according to a study of the Georgian Institute of Technology. The top 10% of people managed to get back into focus after 1 minute, but the average person needs 15 minutes.

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