$1 million is how much your company wastes on bad developer experience

$1 million is how much your company wastes on bad developer experience

A 50 engineers company wastes 1 million dollars a year on developer interruption.

Every time an engineering context switches, it costs the company 50 bucks.

Consider a 100k developer salary:

  • USD 100,000 / year
  • USD ~8000 / month
  • USD ~50 / hour

The 100k/year isn't counting hunting, hiring, onboarding, ramping, and other costs of finding and adding developers to a team.

How is a context switch worth 50 bucks?

Every time someone stops a task because they depend on other people, you have two problems:

  • The engineer that requested the SQL execution in production context-switched
  • The engineer with access to the database running the SQL context-switched

Two engineers are out of flow state.

And it gets worst. Engineer 1 is blocked until engineer 2 context-switches to unblock them. By the time engineer 1 gets a reply, they were already working on something else and had to context-switch again to continue the previous task.

Humans can't magically get into a flow state. After context-switching, it should take between 15 and 30 minutes to get productive on focus-requiring tasks like coding.

Cal Newport, Deep Work

Stopping your task to run SQL for someone without access to the prod database doesn't take 5 minutes; it takes 30.

Engineers stop multiple times a day.

This means dozens of hours a month wasted per engineer. Or millions of dollars annually for a company with 50 engineers or more.

You may ask why. If this is how the industry works and there is nothing to do about it. The solution is to add more engineers to compensate for the inefficiencies, right?


Developers' supply is limited. Developers leave companies they can't be productive. Companies that figure this out retain the best developers, need fewer people, and save a ton of money.

Unfortunately, platform teams aren't articulating this problem with dollars. Don't talk about productivity and culture to defend platform goals. Tell them how much money they are losing. Companies care about money.

Uber has a dashboard for developer interruption and how much it costs the company.

Google puts their top 1% of engineers to work on their platform.

The platform team could be the solution to your engineering hiring problem.