Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Programming Aint Manufacturing?

The analogy between programming and manufacturing is highly flawed, and perhaps serves as the foundation of a number of counterproductive organizational ideas in technology oriented enterprises....

Manufacturing is the act of carrying out a repeatable process. The elements required to put this process into action -- human labor, capital investment -- are relatively expensive. Programming is the act of defining a repeatable process. Once you have the process, the required elements -- CPUs, RAM -- are extremely inexpensive by comparison.

You can see companies applying a programming-manufacturing analogy whenever they do any of the following:There are a lot of folks who don't understand software, so it's not hard to sell them with these techniques. The result is almost always that quality suffers.These are classic mistakes in both programming and manufacturing. Granted, many successful manufacturers "farm out the labor" to cheap locations. But they usually need to rethink the design to take advantage of the cheaper labor and materials. And there are huge opportunities for "lateral efficiency" in manufacturing. These opportunities are best realized by thoughtful engineers, technicians, machinists, assemblers, managers, salespeople, and other personnel.

Of course the keyword you should focus on is thoughtful which requires a focus on people, then process, then tools - in that order...

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