Do the math

Do the math
3/11/2014 3:21:18 PM

I have a few observations around inefficiency almost daily with companies that employ information workers.  For employees that earn in the range of six figures or more, a company should be very aware of how their time is utilized.  I see these two issues in specific every day with almost every person I work with: 1) sitting in meetings that don’t pertain to them 2) their equipment.

Calculating waste in meetings

It is pretty easy to calculate the cost of an employee and their time spent in meetings.  Let’s say that we have a developer that makes $100k.  This boils down to roughly $48 per hour.  If that person spends just 30 minutes in a meeting (plus the 5 minutes it takes to get there) and they do it just 4 times per day for 30 days in a row - you have spent around $3,365.38. 


This doesn’t accurately figure in all the other costs around having this employee in a meeting.  With regards to knowledge workers specifically, they are known for getting into the zone.  This is usually where they are most productive.  They have a mental image of the task that they are trying to accomplish.  And they likely have a mental list of the items they must do to get to the checkered flag.  But when they have to go to a meeting in the middle of being in the zone - it takes them a fair amount of time to get their head back into the game.  This time should technically be counted as loss as well.

Before setting up that next meeting ask yourself “Does that person really need to be in the meeting?  …or can they be on call in case we need them?”

Slow computers and equipment

A slow computer for an information worker is the lowest hanging fruit that most companies could easily fix.  Take for example a software developer that needs many tools open at one time.  Heavy hitting tools like Visual Studio, SQL Server Management Studio, several instances of various browsers, and many more.  Then they also need the normal work related items like Outlook, IM clients, etc.  And if the company is really good they are probably doing most of this in a VM.  This requires a good machine to keep all this going.

But for some reason there are many companies that just don’t get that for every second lost to an inefficient or ailing machine, the company is losing productivity, which translates to immediate funds lost. 

Another quick calculation can be done to determine how many wasted cycles it takes per employee before you could just afford to purchase new equipment for that employee.  Again, for an employee that makes $100k.  If they have 20 minutes of down 4 times a day for 30 days - you could have just bought them a new machine and moved on.  A nice machine no less!


You might be asking why in the world would they have such inefficiencies?

  • Having to start and stop visual studio multiple times a day (a real resource hog)
  • Having to restart the computer several times a day
  • Outlook crashing
  • Operating system age (accumulation of cruft over a couple years can make a computer run slow)
  • Unstable machine restarting randomly
  • Etc.

But wait, there’s more!

Now that you know the math behind these problems I will let you in on a little secret.  There are two things that you can do for a developer to make them super happy.  Keep them out of meetings and keep them on high powered machines.  A developer loves to be efficient.  And they generally don’t want to be in your meetings. 

And now you know that these two things won’t actually cost you anything.  Instead, they will pay for themselves.

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