Overtime is a management failure

Development companies are notorious for working overtime. Of course, they’re not the only ones, but the image of a pile of pizza boxes in a corner of the office is familiar to everyone who’s been in a software project.

However this should not be accepted as normal.

Of course there are times when a bit of overtime makes sense. If it will take less than a few hours to rescue a project then go for it.

Far more usually, overtime is a hopeful ploy by management to achieve the unachievable. It’s easy to dream misty-eyed about the amazing 40 hours the team will achieve over the weekend, where no new bugs are written, everyone is 100% efficient and every decision is the right one.

But the reality is, overtime is usually followed by more overtime. And in the end, despite the long hours and missed weekends, the deadline is often missed anyway and the team wonders why they bothered.

It’s far better to make a decision that the company won’t ever do overtime. Then processes have to be solid, requirements have to be streamlined, the client has to be engaged and the team responsibilities have to be clear.

In short, the things managers do.

When done right, there is enough time to do the job well, for everyone to enjoy their job, and to carry on doing it month after month. And saying there’s no choice in the matter is the first step to getting it done right.