What Loses Developers Precious Time?
Written by Sue Gee   
Friday, 15 July 2022

The recent Stack Overflow Developer Survey revealed that over two thirds of professional developers encounter a knowledge silo at least once a week. It also indicated the scale of time lost searching for answers.

If "knowledge silo" comes as unfamiliar jargon, it refers to the situation in which someone in an organization has information or skills that aren't shared with the rest organization. This reduces connectivity between teams as each team effectively works in isolation from each other and doesn't collaborate. This in turn impacts productivity.

This year's Stack Overflow Developer Survey included questions to gauge the scale of this problem. The question about productivity impacts were in special section at the end restricted to professional developers. 72% of all respondents were eligible to participate of whom 70% agreed to participate, resulting in over 36,000 responses. .

SOProdFriction

Not only did over two-thirds of professional developers encounter knowledge silos at least once a week, an even bigger fraction, three-quarters needed help from people outside their immediate team. Nine out of ten respondents interacted with people outside their immediate team at least once per week with a greater proportion doing so 10 or more times per week than not at all. It isn't clear whether or not this hindered productivity.

Spending a long time each day searching for answers or solutions to problems is obviously going to have a negative impact on productivity. In response to the question:

On an average day, how much time do you typically spend searching for answers or solutions to problems you encounter at work? (This includes time spent searching on your own, asking a colleague, and waiting for a response)

fewer than 10% claimed they devoted less than 15 minutes per day to this activity while between half an hour and an hour was the most prevalent response.

SOSearching

Shockingly 25% of respondents spent more than an hour per day looking for or waiting for answers and the report notes:  

For a team of 50 developers, the amount of time spent searching for answers/solutions adds up to between 333-651 hours of time lost per week across the entire team.

Answering questions also eats up time and represents between 278-568 hours of time lost per week across a 50-developer team. 

SOAnswering

However in this case there was a difference between the minority group of "People Managers", who made up 16% of respondents. Stackoverflow reports:

 32% of people managers spend over an hour each day just answering questions, while only 14% of independent contributors spend over an hour answering questions. 

Answering the questions of new and junior members of a team can be considered part of the job of a People Manager, So this is not so much wasted time as time  properly deployed.

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More Information

Stack Overflow 2022 Developer Survey

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Last Updated ( Friday, 15 July 2022 )