Hardware Budgets

The first work development machine that I bought to sit on my desk cost approximately £20K. That was 16 years ago so you’d have to guess that’d be about the equivalent of £40K (or more) today. It was a huge amount of money but, at the time, it was a cost of doing business and so (rightly) no-one questioned that it had to be done if we wanted to get our product built.

It definitely cost more than my salary at the time and I remember that I bought the wrong monitor for it by mistake and felt pretty scared of having to tell my boss who turned out to be very understanding ( thanks 🙂 ).

Today, hardware is incredibly cheap and staggeringly powerful.

Yet companies (including mine) seem loathe to buy developers/technical types the latest kit?


It’s cheap and it’s such a quick win when it comes to making technical people feel valued.

It’s even better if you let people choose their own kit as I suspect;

  1. They feel attached to it having selected it themselves.
  2. They’re more likely to want to keep it longer because of (1).
  3. They’re more likely to try and address any technical short-comings in it having chosen it themselves rather than calling it a “piece of junk” and ringing a helpdesk to see if they can get it replaced because they never liked it in the first place.

Naturally, Joel knows this (and a lot of other things) and wrote it into his guidelines to understanding developers under the category of “Toys”;


From time to time I re-read that article as it always cheers me up – makes me wish I was working for Joel 🙂

So…if you’re thinking about how to motivate technical people here’s a tip – give them a hardware budget and the discretion to spend it. Naturally, you’ll need to beat them up if they go and buy the wrong things but the people who do that probably need pushing towards the door anyway 😉