Monday, 6 October 2008

Why waste money with inferior equipment?

Single most expensive element of any project and regular company expenses is the salary of people, ie human resources.

Then why do companies insist on saving money elsewhere which increases the cost of staff? Ie. why so restrictive on hardware and software tools?

I think most managers see the expenses on e.g. new PCs as the only place they can make cuts, and are too blinkered to see the effect. Which is increased salary expenses as people take longer to do their job.

Yes, they should not be frivilous, and people always want new gadgets, which some are unneccassary and cause distraction. But they restrict people far too much which in the end costs them more.



For example (and the reason form my rant):
I am a consultant contracted out to a client. Both from my employer and client I have really inferior PCs. And they fail to see this costs them more than it saves.

( This is not specifically targeted at my current client, which is one of the better ones Ive encountered, but they suffer from the same problem. )

The PC I must use have a really slow single core processor with little memory, so most of my time is spendt waiting for the screen, IDE, explorer to refresh.

And the disks is encrypted, which really causes everything to slow down to a halt, especially due to low memory, that the swap file is used a lot...

I don't help by having weblogic, jetty, 1 or 2 eclipse workspaces and netbeans, and 10+ firefox tabs up at the same time, but the machine should handle this.

I would guess as much as 1/3, minimum 1/5, of my time is wasted waiting for the pc to catch up. If you add that up, for 40 hour week say ~10 hours a week is wasted. That is 10 000kr or £1000 per week of invoicable time.

Sure, some waiting will always happen. Especially with inneffective build scripts, wandering concentration... etc.

So they save an initial £1000-2000 by giving my an old machine. But it costs them e.g. £4000 every month! Blinkered wastefullness.

Not to mention only supplying 1 small screen slows down productivity when Im not waiting....


Why restrict developers? If I had a 4gb+ multicore laptop/desktop, or if running linux/osx server processing access, 2 screens, my productivity would be nearly doubled!

( Yes, slow maven scripts (and little use of jetty etc) means I tend to wander onto digg.com for too long while building, but that is another issue... )


As for my real employer, the direct saving is not so obvious if supplying better hardware, as I am mostly working on client pcs. But there are also consequences of that the one they supply is rubbish.

So doing internal development, evening personal development is more and more difficult, or even absent, as the hardware tools is not there. The one I have from them is even less capable, so it is fast becomming just an email reader.

It is a risk for them, as I ( and I presume the others ) are contacted weekly by recuiters offering gadget budgets, macbook pros etc.


So several articles, research papers have been published to inform managers that salary expenses outweight all other costs so much, then why do they not see to optimise that expense? It is very annoying / tempting when reading / hearing of people being given the right tools to do their job, when you are not. :(

2 comments:

rossboardman said...

Oh...you mean not everyone has 8 processors? I thought everyone had. PC...aah that explains it.

flurdy said...

I wish...

The companies here are really PC/windows only, which sucks.

My last client did let me use Ubuntu unofficially after been there awhile though.