Time in Software Development

Software Development: when the response time tends to zero, the value tends to infinite

João Simões de Abreu, November 30, 2021

“’ Uh, can you please come as soon as possible?’ He agreed to be as fast as he could. Much to my surprise, the locksmith pulled up in a van just three minutes later […] In less than ten seconds, he had the door open, allowing me to retrieve my keys from the trunk and get on with my life”.

“‘How much do I owe you?’ I asked. ‘That will be $50, please.’”

Guillebeau proceeds to emphasize how he “secretly wanted him to take longer in getting to me, even though that would have delayed me further. I wanted him to struggle with unlocking my car as part of a major effort, even though that made no sense whatsoever. The locksmith met my need and provided a quick, comprehensive solution to my problem. I was unhappy about our exchange for no good reason.”

The author felt cheated. He would be more satisfied if the solution took longer. The locksmith had accumulated experience over the years, which made him an effective and reliable source for solving problems in his field of work.

The main question revolves around time: should he earn less because his visible work took five minutes, or should he earn more because it only took him five minutes?

People and companies in several fields of work should not be awarded or compensated for the hours they put in a project but for the results they deliver.

Chris Guillebeau depicts this paradigm in the widely-popular “The $100 Startup” book. He left the car keys inside the trunk of his rental car and needed a fast solution. Otherwise, he would be late for his commitment. The locksmith proceeded to solve his problem in under five minutes, assuring the situation would not set him back on his schedule.

If an individual or a company can hand in a quality product in less time, the deliverer should be awarded for it. If you want something urgent to be fixed, you must pay for the prompt resolution – when the response time tends to zero, the value tends to infinite.

Time is generally the most important currency of all, but in software development, we seem to be using it wrong. We must not value something solely based on the period it took for completion. We must also (and more importantly) appreciate it by the added value it brought to both sides, which in turn is highly dependent on the circumstantial variables.

Software development businesses are still vastly working under an hour/rate logic rather than a result approach: this software took us 100 hours to develop, hence its cost. The same applies to minor tweaks, such as business rules updates, that can take dozens of hours. Once again, the pricing focus is not on the result nor the quick response but the time it took to complete the request. Why does this paradigm remain in a time when we know better?

As most incumbents have this working procedure, it jeopardizes the new or most innovative companies with a result-based approach to software development. The vast majority of well-known companies and consultancy firms’ business models revolve around developer-hour rates.

Moreover, organizations looking for a solution often follow the market’s buzzwords to create requirements. In turn, these buzzwords undermine organizations approaching the objectives differently. This is predominantly seen in public tenders, where the requirements limit the companies that can run for the project since its process and technology-restricted.

As a consequence, in the long-term, it affects the companies that want to innovate and the ones that are buying the technology since they are limiting the tender to only the ones that address their requirements directly.

With this said, should software development keep stuck to hourly rates? Or should the market shift to results-based pricing, i.e. the faster the results are delivered, the higher the value?

We have a better way of approaching software development.

A new way boosted by the low-code and no-code realities and assisted by artificial intelligence.

A new way that enables you to develop 10 times faster with 1/10 of the resources.

That new way is called Genio.

Facts about Genio

  • Up to 10 times faster developing new project
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  • 160 million lines of code per day in a single instance
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  • 98% of automation of a solution’s code
  • From tech-savvy to full-stack developer in 5 days