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Stripe — The Developer Coefficient: Software engineering efficiency and its $3 trillion impact on global GDP

🔒 stripe.com

Some very interesting economics outlined here, but the major punchline is:

While it’s a priority for senior executives to increase the productivity of their developers, the average developer spends more than 17 hours a week dealing with maintenance issues, such as debugging and refactoring.

There probably is no such thing as a Unicorn valley of mystical code that requires no refactoring, however, thinking about the costs here does highlight some things:

  1. Having some developers work on just making other developers more productive is probably a really good ROI. I wish there was more published on this, but there is some non-linear curve that would show the number of engineers that should work to make other engineers more productive.

  2. The initial investment for good tests, build pipelines, deployment practices, and many other things are probably very, very cheap compared to the permanent increase in maintenance expense.

Add to the mix that all software development is still such an imprecise and immature craft, and you see a lot of potential for improvement over time. The kicker though, is that even with the potential improvement, the growth in demand likely still outstrips the potential growth in efficiency.

Posted on January 29, 2020

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