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Noam Tamarkin

Efficient or Effective in software development

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Hello to the ones who love to develop software,

I just finished to read an interview with Steve Ballmer.
He was asked: "Q: Fill in the blank. You want the culture of your company to be more _____ ?"
He answered: Efficient.

I do not knows what kind of challenges he identifies in Microsoft, but I would like to give my own opinion on the question: Efficient or Effective.
I would take the definitions in the dictionary that does not make them synonyms.

Efficient is more valuable to an organization that already have a product and all they need to do is to produce it and market it with less cost while keeping quality and revenue.
In another name: a production line.

To my humble opinion, an organization that develops software need to be Effective.
It means that every product will make the right effect in the market. If the right effect is achieved, the cost of inefficiency will be covered by the volume of sales.
Development of a product is never efficient especially a new one. You should always assume some level of mistakes that will waste time and effort.

Looking for efficiency in a development of a product may lead to absurd like reducing the process steps and leave out the design. That would be efficient only if the developer is good enough and until the developer has moved to another task.
Efficiency in the development process will emerge from the team quality.

Last point for discussion:
  • Effectiveness could be measured only after the product is released
  • Efficiency could be measured during the process itself
Would Steve Ballmer care to comment on that?

Yours truly,
Noam

2 Comments

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Hey Noam, efficiency and effectiveness are different alright, but I think that being inefficient can close you down, especially in a difficult economic period like we are having today (this is probably what Steve Ballmer meant for, as the company's manager, his first goal is to pass these days with a minimum loss).
As we all probably experienced, a company (especially one like Microsoft) can continue and be ineffective for a long time, as long as it does it's ineffectiveness in an efficient way :)

The whole efficiency v effectiveness debate is one that programmers should work through more often - check out my post about Business rules for more effective development.

JT

Decision Management blogger

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In this blog, Noam Tamarkin provides ideas for improving and better integrating your applications.

Noam Tamarkin

Senior software architect and CTO. Experience in solution design and implementation. Holds the ability to understand complex business processes and translate them to technology. Expert in Enterprise applications, integration, SOA, SaaS. Experienced in project management, technical infrastructure, procurement and manufacturing.

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