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The $85 Billion Cost of Bad Code

A recent study from Stripe and Harris Poll found the average developer spends 42% of their time dealing with technical debt and maintenance issues, of which 3.8 hours are spent just on debugging "bad code," or poor quality code that's difficult to maintain. The opportunity cost of bad code comes to $85 billion annually — resources that could otherwise be used to build better software.

Average Dev Week

Establishing a healthy code review process can help address these issues by reinforcing the need to write readable, maintainable code. We've talked about some of the benefits of code review on our blog, but Stripe's study brings into focus the economic impact of bad code.

Cost of bad code

Companies can help their development teams by considering the following:

  1. Understand your total costs. 59% of developers strongly agreed their companies spend an excessive amount of time fighting with bad code. Tech debt needs to be addressed, and you can leverage a code review as a service or outsource support to complement your development teams. When evaluating the costs and benefits of bringing on added support, remember to account for the opportunity cost of tech debt and maintenance issues, as well as the negative impact on team and personal morale.

  2. Hire additional development support. The Stripe study isn't asking if you can afford to hire more developers — it's asking if you think you can afford not to. Writing high-quality code takes time, and with upcoming deadlines and competing priorities, 79% of developers felt they weren't given sufficient time to fix poor quality code. One way to responsibly scale your development resources is to use our network of on-demand reviewers.

  3. Prioritize your developers' time. Lastly, not all developers enjoy or excel at maintenance tasks. Specialization can help teams become more efficient, and it can also lead to happier, more productive developers. Work with your development team to identify the right mix of time spent writing new code and time spent maintaining it.

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