Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Mythical Five-Minute Change

(I posted this originally at http://insomniaccoder.tumblr.com/post/229899519/dilbert-comic-strip-for-11-01-2009-from-the , reposting this for the benefit of one of my coworkers that couldn't find the original post)

From: Dilbert comic strip for 11/01/2009 from the official Dilbert comic strips archive.

This is why there is no such thing as a 5-minute change. Here's the real sequence of events for your "5-minute" change:
  1. Somebody finds that a 5-minute change needs to be performed. 5 minutes.
  2. Somebody asks for authorization to make the 5-minute change. 5 minutes assuming the explanation is simple.
  3. Somebody needs to be selected to make the 5-minute change. 5 minutes if the work schedules are clear and up to date.
  4. Somebody needs to explain the programmer the 5-minute change. Good luck explaining it in less than 10 minutes.
  5. The programmer makes a change. 5 minutes.
  6. Quality assurance checks the work. 5 minutes but it has a mistake.
  7. The programmer fixes the mistake. 5 minutes.
  8. Quality Assurance re-tests. 5 minutes.
  9. Work is deployed to testing environment. 5 minutes.
  10. Customer tests the change. 5 minutes. Luckily, he likes it as delivered. Staging is approved.
  11. Deployment to staging environment for regression testing. 5 minutes.
  12. Quality Assurance does internal regression testing. 5 minutes (in your dreams).
  13. Customer does regression testing. 5 minutes (yeah, right). It passes, approved to deploy to production.
  14. Work is deployed to production, assuming no outage is needed. 5 minutes.
  15. Quality Assurance checks the production environment. 5 minutes.
  16. Customer does production acceptance testing. 5 minutes.
That's 16 steps, 5 minutes each. In theory that's 80 minutes, but that's not realistic because there's at least one email between each step. This means no less than 15 emails, with a separation of 15 minutes. Your total is 16 x 5 minutes + 15 x 15 minutes = 305 minutes.
Your "5-minute" task is going to burn at least 305 minutes of billable work, OVER FIVE HOURS OF WORK.
It gets better, this process includes all players getting copied in all emails, so in reality that 5-minute task probably eats a few more hours, just based on all of the people that will be reading those 15 emails.
Isn't project management awesome?

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