Friday, August 31, 2018

Technology from a Tech Manager's View - Measure Productivity

It is always an intriguing topic about software development productivity. There are some attempts to measure productivity. From those numbers, there are some conclusions and team chaos and management challenge are knocking at the door.

First of all, I do not think this productivity is measurable. If a computer program can understand how much effort to solve a problem, this program will be smart enough to solve the problem. Then we don’t need software developers at all.

The worst thing about this measurement is let team members know about it. The assumption is measurement will give insight into the problem and eventually leads to a solution. Not mention the trust between employee and management is broken, the assumption itself has a fatal error. You can measure stone's size and weight and those numbers won’t change. However, the subject of the measurement is human who will change the behavior if s/he knows someone is watching.

Naturally the subject (human) changes behavior to make the number better. Will this change really improve the productivity? Most likely not. The first thing human subject can do is to game the system. Will this effort result in high quality software? No. When you know you are not trusted, are you willing to contribute more?

Einstein's noble prize paper is only a few pages. Essentially the attempt to measure is put equivalence between software development activities and operational labor work.

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