Software Development productivity – How to increase it dramatically

Software Development Productivity
Software Development Productivity

Software Development Productivity

In IT departments Software Development productivity is much lower than it could be. That’s because of the system. You can improve this dramatically.

The best way to increase productivity in software development is through the Supply Chain.

Achievement Mechanisms

The immediate customers must decide the Achievement (and Reward) categories of whatever the project team produce.

When I first go into an organisation I work out the supply chain. It is usually something like this.

The developers create a product for the analyst / team leaders.

The analysts create a sub-system product for Systems / Link Testing. The Systems Testers produce a product for User Acceptance Testing.

The User Acceptance Testers create a product for the end customer (including Production).

Customer Oriented Supply Chain

You should ask the customer at each leg of the Supply Chain what they want from the product you will supply to them.

They usually say that it should be Fit for Purpose, free from Defects, Timely, with good Operability, and with a good level of Documentation.

You should then make these into categories.

They should then give weighting factors to each of these categories as they are not all of equal importance to them and may vary by project.

This is also a good opportunity to ask them to give an average mark for previous products they have received. This then sets a benchmark against which you can show improvement in Customer Satisfaction.

In my experience, the higher Weighting Factors tend to be for Fitness for Purpose and for being Defect Free.

A typical organisation would give a Weighting Factor of:-

  • 4 for Fitness for Purpose,
  • 3 for Defect Free,
  • 2 for Timeliness, and
  • 1 for Operability and for Documentation.

Customer Oriented Process

As well as allowing the supplier to know what the customer wants, how important it is to them, and how they are doing, there is another side effect of great advantage in doing this.

It enables the project to put other pressures on the project other than time pressures.

The only pressure they usually put on project members, when they are actually creating the product, is time pressure.

Organisations which concentrate on time pressure get products with lots of defects which are not fit-for-purpose or easily operable. These projects are normally late anyway because they have to rectify the problems.

If they let me implement only one mechanism at an organisation it would be this one. It changes people‘s behaviour immediately in several ways.

They tend to resist the project manager’s pressure to hand over work before they are completely satisfied with it, knowing that the greater Weighting Factors are for Fitness for Purpose and for Defect Free.

Software Development Productivity – Quality Saves Time

Getting a succession of Quality products will save the project time at later stages. Also instead of resisting quality measures that are put in place, they welcome them as they enable them to get higher marks.

They even ask one of their peers to ‘give the programme a bash’ to see if they can break it before handing it over.

When giving marks for Timeliness, you shouldn’t allocate a mark of 10 for finishing on time. I would recommend 7 for finishing on time, 8 for 10% under, 9 for 30 % under and 10 for 50 % under.

Now there’s ‘something in it’ for the developer to finish ahead of schedule. Higher marks lead to a greater sense of achievement and also to higher rewards.

You can put in place easily the Supply Chain without having prior metrics except for the Customer Satisfaction metrics which you can take easily. The impact is both great and instant in terms of changing people’s behaviours.

Using the Supply Chain is the best way to get better software development productivity.

For further advice articles on Project Management click on Project Management Advice.

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