Want More Work Done Sooner? Remember, Cash Can’t Code!

Cash Can't Code!Cash Can’t Code!”  A colleague of mine (Chris Conrad) once told me this. The context of our discussion was about leveraging more resources to complete a large book of work by the end of the year. His main point is clear, having money to throw at the problem wasn’t going to be a solution. Basically, we have the cash, but it won’t result in code in the timeframe we need it.


Many people believe that if we want to get more work done, we should just throw more resources at the problem. Let’s say you’re fortunate to work for a company that has additional resources. Even better, those resources are actual people who already work for the company, have the requisite skills, and are available when you need them. If so, then maybe you can reasonably apply some of these people to the problem at hand. Typically, however, current employees with the right skills are not just sitting around waiting for the company to deploy them to additional work.

What if you somehow have or can acquire the budget (cash) to hire more people? This is the scenario Chris was referring to. Think of what you must do to turn that cash into code.

  1. Identify qualified candidates
  2. Interview candidates
  3. Make an offer
  4. If she accepts, wait for her to become available to join the company
  5. On-board her (which can take weeks to months)
  6. Get her up to speed on the work you need her to do (more weeks to months)

Obviously, even if you have the cash, it could be many months before anyone new will do something productive (like coding).

If you have too much demand and not enough capacity in your organization using money to increase capacity won’t likely work in the short term. Of course, over the long-term we can use cash to increase capacity to balance against our target demand.

In the short term we are better off focusing on the demand. We don’t have to say “No” to the demand, but we should have the discipline to say: “I didn’t say no, I said not now.” We must stop starting more and more new work and focus on using our current capacity to finish the work in progress (WIP). Adding more WIP to already overloaded capacity will only make the situation worse. It will take longer to get everything done and quality will suffer.

In addition, when WIP exceeds capacity, we substantially exacerbate the dependency problems that are killing organizational work flow. You can learn more about this concept in Innolution’s class Dependencies Are Killing Your Agility: Learn to Fight Back!

What are your thoughts? Do you work in an organization where people believe that Cash CAN Code? Leave your comments below.

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