Maintenance v new build

What proportion of your time do you spend maintaining/fixing other peoples stuff compared to the amount of time creating new stuff?

Don’t include working on stuff you built years ago as maintenance, even though you have forgotten it. (you must have had a reasonable understanding of it at one time)

I probably spend half my time on each. Maintaining other peoples work is much harder than creating my own. Its obvious why: it includes all the same problem solving/creativity/accuracy type stuff, but also includes trying to get your head around the tortured logic of the original dev. And they were probably rushing to meet some unrealistic deadline.

One day I’d like to work on a system that had not been rushed out under immense pressure, that maybe has some useful up-t0 date documentation. I never have and I suspect I never will, certainly not in the Office dev space. (Of course I wouln’t want to write the docs myself, I’d rather be coding ;-) ). What about you?




3 Responses to “Maintenance v new build”

  1. MikeC Says:

    Interesting timing for this post, Simon, I’m currently working on a revision to an absolute Frankensheet that was put together by someone who had just discovered VLOOKUPS, Named Ranges and Conditional Formatting and wanted to play as much as possible with each and every one of these shiny new toys…! So the entire part about “tortured logic” is kinda appropriate…!

    (As an aside, I find it’s not necessarily just due to tortured logic. VBA is a “creative” system that allows a hundred different ways to perform a task, especially where the task is quite complex. I perform tasks in certain ways that suit my way of thinking, whilst other people use different methods. If I then come to their code, it’ll often take me some time to get my head round their methodology, regardless of their level of skill.)

    It varies hugely week/month vs week/month, but I would say I probably spend about 50% new dev, 40% maintaining/updating/fixing OP’s work, and 10% updating old dev of my own. Of that 40%, I’d say that if these had been put together / maintained with some more structure/documentation etc, then that 40% would drop to 20%, which would free up nearly an extra week every month for more productive stuff than trying to figure out exactly what this or that #REF! or #NAME? should actually represent… and why there are 2000 rows * 100 columns of formulae when there’s only a visible need for 100*40…. and why….. etc etc!!

  2. Marcus Says:

    Hi Simon – thanks for posting my last response,

    I’d spend somewhere between 5 and 10% of my time maintaining other people’s work usually hating every minute of it. There’s rarely any documentation – if there is it’s outdated enough to be misleading. There’s hardly any code commentary so you spend a lot of time working out the “method behind the madness” of the original developer. There’s been 5 different developers working on the beast – each with a different way of doing things. There aren’t any naming conventions, or worse they’re inconsistent. Aaarghh

    Note: Somewhere out there is another poor slob making the same grievances about maintaining my work :P.

    I’ve gone as far as to politely decline some maintenance work, particularly ‘after’ I’ve seen it. I think I mentioned in a previous thread of a hotel owner we know who struggled to get replacement builder to finish the extension work after the original builder went bust. The company that took on the role first cut concrete samples from the ‘hull’ to confirm the quality of the workmanship. Who wants to get sued for someone else’s shoddy work?

    I might spend 10% of my time doing maintenance work on my own projects. These are usually feature requests such as additional reports or new functionality.

    The residual is on new project work. However, I don’t spend 85% of my day code cutting. I spend just as much time employing the softer skills, dealing with stakeholders.

    Cheers – Marcus
    08:27 AEST, Now: 15°C Max: 21°C, Showers expected

  3. Simon Says:

    Great timing as usual on the time spent – thats another topic coming soon.

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