Bill Jordan wrote an absolutely amazing piece on the things he learned in the twenty-eight years he worked in the software industry. There are so many good insights that I can nearly quote the entire article.
Here are some of the things that resonated with me:
Odds are far better than good that your high performers are achieving what appears to be high levels of productivity by building technical debt into the application by taking shortcuts whether intentionally or unintentionally. These kinds of high performers are actually low performers when when TCO is factored in.
Encourage developers to improve the application while working on their projects. Examples of improvements are creating reusable objects out of copypasta code and breaking up large objects that are difficult to maintain into smaller objects that individually are easier to reason about. Improve the database schema even if it hurts in the short term. Delete old and unused code. With the benefit of hindsight update the user interface to improve user experience — sometimes even just changing a word or two makes a big difference.
When continual improvement is part of the DNA of your team you’ll be amazed with the results, but give those results some time to become apparent — it won’t happen overnight. It also means management will need to recognize that things will take more time since developers will be working on their primary project while simultaneously making incremental improvements.
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