Anyone who has every worked in software will know that bugs can be costly – Cambridge University researchers found that software developers spend half their programming time finding and fixing bugs. They estimate that over £192 billion a year is lost in economic productivity through software bugs.
At Ellexus, we take the productivity levels of our developers seriously, and strive to keep abreast of factors that may lower overall performance. However, on Friday the 13th March, we bravely put that at risk by participating in a nationwide day of humour by wearing Comic Relief noses. Little research has been done on the effects of oxygen deprivation on software development and so we decided to boldly go where no development team had gone before (we think this is the case because no one else would be silly enough to try it).
We know that in extreme cases oxygen deprivation can result in cerebral hypoxia which could not only introduce errors at design time, but perhaps also least to longer term issues being missed by the testing team. NASA found in their software projects that the cost of fixing a bug found in the first stages of testing was roughly a dollar, whilst repairing that defect after the product was released cost a hundred dollars. For this reason we embrace many of the modern techniques of test-driven development as well as monitoring the health of our team carefully throughout the day.
Fortunately, the effects felt by our developers were minimal, perhaps even mitigated by the knowledge that we were contributing in a small way to Comic Relief and the extraordinary work they do. The noses were far from comfortable, but by the end of the day we had got used to the smell. The long-term effects of wearing a red nose on productivity in software development have yet to be analysed, however, we are happy to report that being unable to breathe through their noses did not appear to seriously hinder our committed team. We encourage other businesses to undertake this experiment in the future in order to shed light on this under-researched area.
Happy Red Nose Day!