How much is a team-minute?

As opposed to the light-year, which is a very long distance, there is also the notion of the beard-second, which is a very short distance. As the name implies, it is how long a straw of beard grows in one second. When you calculate the length of the beard-second (5 nm) it is amazing that anybody has beard (or hair) at all! Still, you see it every day. How is that possible!?

The not so surprising answer is: It accumulates over time.

When in a software project (or any project for that matter) the team always spend time on doing the same tasks over and over again, every day. I have always felt that it is good to cut down on build times, having fast computers etc, but I never calculated the gain from it.

The other day I asked myself “how much would we gain if everyone on the team gained one minute per day?”

There are approximately 200 working days in a year, and on my team we are approximately 10 people. If we gain one minute each per day, that is

200*10*1/60=33h20min (for one person)

Wow! That means that I can spend 33h on making a one team-minute improvement, and it will pay back in about a year!

If we gain half an hour that is

200*10*1/2 = 1000h


Then I started to measure in money. If the approximate hourly cost for one person is €100, every team-minute costs €3300. That is a lot of money. For a minute! Half a team-hour a day costs €100.000 per year.

If the machine park is aged, or the network is slow, add up all your team-minutes and present them with hard numbers to your boss. I’m not saying he or she will listen, but it will be much harder to reject such a proposition!

The plan could backfire and your coffee- and lunch breaks be revoked, but it might be worth the risk! 😉

Good luck!


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