How much does it cost to spend $1,000

Nobody should test in prod, except that you already do so get good at it.

In response to a twitter thread about questions to identify whether a applicant would want to accept a job, one of the most brilliant responses was by Lars Albertsson (@lalleal) asking “How much does it cost your company to buy a thing for 1000 EUR? Spend a day chasing approvals, and you are at > 100% overhead.”

The tweet in question

Tweet by Lars Albertsson

Replying to @mipsytipsy

There is a similarly useful microbenchmark for organisational agility: How much does it cost your company to buy a thing for 1000 EUR? Spend a day chasing approvals, and you are at > 100% overhead.

Just recently I endured the worst outcome

In assistsing a nationwide telecommunications provider with some cloud interactions, a few free resources were needed related to IAM. There was no cost for these and the way they were to be used wouldn’t scale into having a cost. It was just some resources.

The change required presenting to a review board that had little knowledge of google cloud offerings and configuration options. They had already built up many learned helplessness issues and bleieved that there was no way to scope down a service account from having full control of every file in google drive if the api was opened up.

The team likely had other jobs beyond GCP expertise, but it was many hours of reviews, rewriting plans, drawing designs and architecture diagrams, and resubmitting approvals.

Of the 12 people involved, several of us were on repeated hour-long calls. More probably brought items to other behind-the-scenes types for POs and billing questions. Again, for $0.

This just sounds like bureaucracy

It’s the nature of bureaucracy to do this sort of thing, and since nobody is responsible for the ultimate budget of the approval process, it’s often overlooked. Asking the question in a way that allows the answer to really be explored, it may take another few 100% of overhead to actually get a real number. Even then, it’s likely a range based on a lot of factors.

Take care when deploying

This question will likely make a lot of folks defensive. I’d use it or something like it if confronted with the following:

  1. An aggressive recruiting effort from a big corp that says they’re agile
  2. A consulting customer that wants to tackle “devops” before they can make any changes
  3. A colleague in an IT or Dev Tools role that talks about how slow the devs are

Mostly in a defensive context, or to help someone think through the learned helplessness they and their organization experience daily.

Despite the limited applicability, it is thought provoking and I want to find more!

Share more like this

Either tag @brownfield_dev on twitter or contact me directly with suggestions. I’ll write a follow-up with some refinement and ways to use them as an insider or interviewee or consultant.