5 Ways to Help Your Employer Save Money as a Software Developer

Companies like to save money. They don’t like to waste money on things they don’t need to. Well, they shouldn’t, anyway. In this article, I’ll discuss a few things you can do as a software developer to help your employer save money.

Why Help Your Employer Save Money?

Why should you help your employer save money?

It’s not your job, right? You should just come to work, do your job, and get paid, right?

Well, you can do that. But, to get ahead in your career, it’s good to “add value” to your employer. I mean, it’s good to go above and beyond and do more than you should, to improve your career in the long-term.

So, some of the reasons you should help your employer save money are:

  • It makes you look good. If you’re suggesting ways to save money, your employer will appreciate that.
  • It’s good for your career. Saving company money looks good on a resume, and it’s a good experience to have.
  • Improves your thinking. If you can come up with new ways to save money, then it can improve how you think about problems.
  • It stops the company from wasting money. If you can show them how to save money and not spend it on something that they don’t need to, then it’s more efficient and they spend less money.

Let’s look at a few different ways you can save your employer’s money.

1 – Automate Tasks

The entire point of software is to automate tasks that don’t need to be done manually.

Even though you’re a software developer working on a project of some kind, it doesn’t mean there aren’t other areas you can look to improve.

Are there any areas of your job that can be automated with software to save time?

If you save time, then you save money for the company.

It’s not just your time you can save. If you can somehow save time for other employees by automating tasks, then the benefit is even greater.

Some examples of things you can automate are:

  • Automated testing. If you can set up automated testing for your project or software, then you can save time by testing common features, and reduce defects that are found later.
  • Create automatic reports. If there is reporting that is done manually on a regular basis, perhaps you can automate it.

2 – Fix Bugs to Reduce Support Costs

Many times in my career I’ve had to spend time supporting a tool that had defects. These defects were known, as they had been reported before, but nobody had spent the time looking into it to resolve it.

I’m a big fan of “short-term sacrifice for long-term gain”. This means you can spend a bit of time now on something, which may not get any benefits now, but over time, you’ll get rewarded.

One way you can reduce costs and help your employer save money is to fix defects that may exist in the software that you use.

Are there any defects that you know about?

Are there certain things in the software that don’t work as expected?

Are there things that can be improved in the software to save time?

Suggest fixing some of these issues to your manager. Or, better yet, spend some of your time investigating a fix for it, and once you have the solution, propose that to your manager.

3 – Find Better Tools

Companies don’t like to change the tools they use very often. It’s hard to do, especially in a big company, and it takes time to research and implement.

Are you using any tools that aren’t up to scratch, or don’t do exactly what you need?

Is there a tool that can be used to improve your process?

Will it save time?

This one can be a bit trickier than the other points, as getting a new tool may cost money, either up-front or on an ongoing basis.

The main thing to do here is to point out that the benefits of the new tool are better than the cost of the tool.

For example, if you’re emailing files around to your team, this can cause several problems:

  • Attachments fill up mailboxes
  • Emails get lost as they get older (“where was that email Dan sent me about that thing a few months ago?”)
  • Multiple versions of files are sent and it’s hard to keep track of which one to use

A few places I have worked in use a document management tool. Most often this is SharePoint. But it doesn’t need to be. You can use Google Drive, OneDrive, or Dropbox.

Using one of these tools instead of emailing files will save a lot of time, and therefore money, for your employer.

That’s just one example. Are there other tools you can use?

  • Could you use a tool like Balsamiq to create screen mockups instead of PowerPoint?
  • How about buying a license for an IDE instead of using a free one with limited features?

4 – List the Biggest Things that Take Time Away From Your Work

We all have to do things that take time away from our work.

However, what many employers don’t realise is that time spent not working is lost money.

Now, I’m all for taking breaks and spending time on other activities, as it can improve your health and relationships with your coworkers.

What I suggest is more about tasks you have to do but take time away from your work.

First, start brainstorming a list of tasks you have to do in a given week or month.

Some examples could be:

  • Complete your weekly timesheet (or several timesheets)
  • Send regular status emails
  • Clean up folders on network drives or servers
  • Cleaning up your inbox
  • Meetings that have no use

Once you have that list, try to come up with ways to save time with these tasks. Or, better yet, eliminate them.

  • Create a template for your timesheet, if possible.
  • Create a template for regular status emails
  • Write a script to automatically clean up folders
  • Set up inbox rules to move emails, and unsubscribe from unwanted emails
  • Consider not attending meetings where you are not required

I’ve recently stopped going to meetings where I’m not needed. Every half hour status update meeting that I don’t go to is another half hour I can spend doing work, producing results for the company, and ultimately saving time.

5 – Suggest Ways to Improve Processes

This is the final tip I have, and may be the hardest.

However, it has a lot of benefit.

There are probably a lot of processes that you, or your coworkers do, that are not as good as they could be.

They may seem like a waste. If you ask around, you might hear people say, “Oh, we’ve always done it this way”.

Those are some of the most dangerous words in a business.

Don’t let that stop you.

Are there any processes at your work that seem like they are a waste? Or, that aren’t being done in the best way?

Think about better ways to do them. Can you eliminate steps? Can you automate some of the work?

For example, a process I had to follow a few years ago was getting approval for my timesheets. I’m a consultant, so I had to get my client to sign off the times I had worked every week.

This involved:

  1. Entering my hours into the online timesheet system
  2. Generating a report for the week
  3. Printing the report
  4. Taking the printed report to my manager’s desk
  5. My manager would read and sign the timesheet report
  6. I then scanned the signed timesheet report into a PDF file which appeared in my inbox
  7. Upload the scanned timesheet report into the timesheet system.

This was terribly inefficient. Many people had to follow the same process.

We made an improvement on this process. It’s not something I can take credit for, but someone else took the steps to improve it.

We allowed for email approvals. The manager could approve the timesheet via email, eliminating the printing and scanning steps.

The new process would be:

  1. Entering my hours into the online timesheet system
  2. Generating a report for the week
  3. Saving the report as a PDF
  4. Emailing the report to my manager
  5. My manager would read the report, and respond with their approval
  6. Upload the approval email to the timesheet system.

Sure, it’s still a bit of work, but it removes a lot of wasted effort.

Ideally, the timesheet system would allow for the managers to log in and approve it themselves.

So, the ideal process would be:

  1. Entering my hours into the online timesheet system
  2. My manager would view the timesheet for the week, and mark it as approved

That’s it. Two steps. Sure, there is some login involved, but this is it, at a high level.

Are there any processes at your work that could be improved, to help save your employer money?

Think about it.