Friday, September 11, 2009

How to become a faster programmer

Someone asked this on

In reading his post, I realized that he had confused timeliness with speed. The two are not the same:

My last job evaluation included just one weak point: timeliness. I'm already aware of some things I can do to improve this but what I'm looking for are some more.
Does anyone have tips or advice on what they do to increase the speed of their output without sacrificing its quality?
How do you estimate timelines and stick to them? What do you do to get more done in shorter time periods?
Any feedback is greatly appreciated, thanks,

My response:

I think they key word here is "timeliness". They didn't say you were too slow, rather that you were not timely.

In project management, it is important for the manager to be able to estimate when your work items will be complete with accuracy. I suspect that the main reason why your efforts were not deemed to be timely is that you frequently had items that were not delivered on schedule, and were delivered much later than scheduled.

To improve your timeliness, you might want to spend more time understanding how long it will take you to complete a particular work item given your skills, experience, and the domain. This will allow you to give better estimates to your project manager. The key here is "better" ... you could deliver on time more frequently by padding everything with a fudge factor, but what you really want to strive for is a more accurate estimate.

I would discuss this with your manager to see if this is actually the issue. Otherwise, you might end up programming twice as fast, promising things in half the time you used to, and still getting criticized for your timeliness because your estimates will still have the same error factor.

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