Chapter 35. Economies of Speed

Death by Efficiency Is Slow and Painful

Economies of scale versus economies of speed
Economies of scale versus economies of speed

Large companies looking to speed up are used to optimizing the way they work: they can make production a few percent more efficient, negotiate a slightly higher discount from vendors, and reduce budget by printing in black and white. Sadly, though, their digital competitors don’t move 10% faster, but 10 times faster, leaving traditional IT departments somewhat puzzled by how this is even possible.

30,000 Times Faster

A quick example showing how a 10-times speed-up can still be a quite conservative figure comes from setting up a version control system. A large IT organization looking to define a standard for source control invested six months of community work to conclude that the company should be using Git (Chapter 25). However, it was considered too difficult to migrate other projects off Subversion, so both products were recommended. The preparation cycle for the global architecture steering board meeting took another month, bringing the total elapsed time to seven months or roughly 210 days.


Some tasks that would take traditional organizations months of preparation and approvals, digital companies can accomplish in a few minutes.

A modern IT organization or startup would have spent a few minutes deciding on the product and have accounts set up, a private ...

Get The Software Architect Elevator now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.