A Science school teaches us that the universe is made up of protons, neutrons and electrons; they must have forgotten to mention morons. For this financial year, my organization told us to come with ways to increase productivity; and you know what “Delspe” (my manager whom I’ve nicknamed the Delegation Specialist) did? He asked our entire organization to work on Saturdays for the next 2 months. Productivity improvement is not asking people to work additional hours; productivity improvement is more about coming up with more effective ways to improve productivity.

All this topic of productivity made me start thinking on what productivity is; how can you have productivity for an engineering team? I can understand having productivity measures for a manufacturing team; but for an engineering team? Would Albert Einstein invented the theory of relativity, or would Thomas Alva Edison been able to come up with so many inventions? If someone had told Edison that he has to come up with one invention every year, then I doubt if electricity would have been invented even in this age. Why my grouse with productivity?

Because I think that productivity cannot be evaluated. The ability of an engineering team to deliver cannot be quantified for evaluation. Let’s take an example of the articles that appear in Testing Circus. There’s an aspect of art to engineering teams and the reasoning to measure productivity itself becomes the factor that kills productivity.

Imagine a world wherein we have instruments (Productivity Meters) that display productivity measures for software engineering teams –

Developer Meter – 35 lines of code per minute, 2 bugs per minute.

Tester meter – 38 test cases executed per minute, 25 test cases written per minute.

What my thoughts are on evaluating productivity?

1) A waste of time.

It is a serious waste of time; the very idea of measuring productivity means someone will have to do hours of research; then you need so many tools  created to measure productivity. And finally, someone has to put a lot of checks and balances. Imagine if you did not have to measure productivity, these folks can be egged to do much greater.

2) No one who measured productivity has achieved greatness so far

Can you spot an example of 1 person of company who keep measuring their productivity and have achieved greatness? You become bigger by innovating; to innovate, you identify the customer’s problem, find out what keeps him awake at night and find a way to effectively solve it. Most organizations that are fed by investors come up with thinking that they achieve more profitability by keeping tab on productivity measurement. I think NOT!

3) Productivity leads people to think of working additional hours

No; it is not working additional hours. It is about how you can do the same thing in a much simpler way in the next year, how you avoid the same set of mistakes, how you can visualize the pitfalls and see that you don’t fall into those pitfalls.

However, having cribbed about productivity, all engineering teams that we have are part of a business and are expected to compete with other engineering teams in the business. So, how would you evaluate a business? Across the world, all business are evaluated (mostly) on the revenue that they generate. A product is a good product if it generates more money and it is bad if it does not generate money at all. That means that every business is evaluated on the generated income.

Likewise, if you have to measure engineering teams, measure them on the revenue generated by the business that they support. I can sense so many people asking me “What if there’s a business that saves revenue? What about support teams?” etc. Well, my answer to them is that any product is evaluated by its ability to save money; and do the same here as well.

On a serious note, a coffee machine can have productivity on the liters of coffee that it churns out; a vehicle can have a productivity measure. A productivity measure is for machines and not for human beings. A human being can either be productive or unproductive.  Trying to calculate his productivity measure means that you are killing productivity!


Fake Software TesterA Fake Tester's DiaryFake Tester,Fake Tester's DiaryA Science school teaches us that the universe is made up of protons, neutrons and electrons; they must have forgotten to mention morons. For this financial year, my organization told us to come with ways to increase productivity; and you know what 'Delspe' (my manager whom I've nicknamed the...
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Fake Software Tester

What has this author achieved in testing? This author has tested more than a million lines of code and has logged more than a billion defects; He has reviewed other test cases and found at least a trillion missing test cases and has coached his peers to log more than a quadrillion bugs; He has talked more than a Quintillion words while participating in triage meetings and he has been a part of sextillion arguments convincing the developer of the bugs. He has done good researching on septillion testing conferences; every day, he has Octillion thoughts that come to his mind on the problems that plague the world of software testing. He has selected Nonillion testers from his Decillion testing interviews and has unsuccessfully attempted to coach Undecillion testers about testing. His writings are followed by DuoDecillion readers and the comments on his blog are more than Tredecillion; he has answered Quattuordecillion questions on testing in various forums. And by the way, like the monthly columns, the above contains Quindecillion amounts of exaggeration on what I have done so far in my life.

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