The Never-Ending Search for Higher Productivity


On the face of it, higher productivity looks like a Good Thing. More products for less time. Who wouldn't want this? But I wonder about this search for higher productivity. What do managers really want?

If you want to understand about productivity for software organizations, read Putnam and Myers' new book, Five Core Metrics: The Intelligence Behind Successful Software Management. Putnam and Myers discuss what productivity really means.

In the meantime, I think some managers want to release more products faster. But I think more managers want to release more suitable products faster. Since they don't know how to define or fund “more suitable,” they want everything out faster.

I know of these ways to release more products faster:

  • Shorten the projects (yes, you can timebox an entire project. Use a design-to-schedule lifecycle.)
  • Start the projects faster
  • Use agile techniques, especially short iterations, so you can end the project faster
  • Ask how little the project can do, instead of how much

If you have more techniques, please do comment.

People can only think so fast. But with a little management thinking, management can help their technical staff use those brain cycles more effectively, increasing productivity. Much easier and more reasonable than asking people to work more hours or multi-task on several projects.

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