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I have been with my current employer for about 2 months. I am a PHP developer, although the job invariably involves some front end work as well. I feel that the computer I have been provided is not up to scratch, to the extent that it is reducing my productivity (requires restarting several time per day etc, I can't search our codebase without freezing up the machine for ~5 minutes). I'd like to just ask for a better computer, but I don't want my manager to think I am the kind of person who resorts to blaming his tools when things don't go well. I don't think he knows me well enough yet to know that I'm not like that.

I have noticed that some job adverts mention the quality of the computing equipment employees are provided with - mine did not, so is it reasonable to be expected to just put up with the computer I have got? How do I avoid being a tools-blamer? Finally, what is the best way to approach the manager?

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migrated from Feb 12 '14 at 23:11

This question came from our site for professional programmers interested in conceptual questions about software development.

marked as duplicate by CMW, Andy, Lego Stormtroopr, jcmeloni, Chad Feb 13 '14 at 3:30

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

Are you in the minority? Are others using faster machines that perform much better? – w3d Feb 12 '14 at 22:01
3 of the 4 other programmers are using better machines than me. – Thomas Coulter-Brophy Feb 13 '14 at 21:09
up vote 14 down vote accepted

Figure out how much money it's costing the company (at your current hourly rate) by having you restart the machine after each freeze, and by not having a faster computer for compilation cycles, etc. Then calculate the amount of time it would take for a new machine to pay for itself, and how a new computer will make you more personally productive, expressed in dollars and cents.

Managers are far more apt to make a decision on something if you can show them that it will ultimately save the company money by making the decision.

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Number number numbers + analysis + numbers!

What I'm basically saying is that you need to present a business case to whoever makes the decision as why you need one.

The easiest case is usually to determine how much more your work costs the company using the existing hardware and how much they'd save if you got different hardware.

The costs are not just financial (though they will come down to this at the end), they could be things like impact to other people in terms of delays in getting things to them. Log each time something has gone wrong or taken too long. Did you have to log a support call. How much time did you waste? Did you have to get help from others. Every 12 x 5 minutes adds up to a wasted person hour. Every 5 of these adds up to a wasted day. I've done this for clients where server performance was inadequate, and for where I've need better hardware for specific tasks.

Also it's not jsut about asking for "a new computer" - it's about telling them exactly what computer they need to get for you and why it benefits them to do it.

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Keep track of how often your computer is causing you to be delayed in completing your tasks. You will need some concrete examples. "It is so slow", will probably not work. Also, see if others are experiencing similar issues with their computers. It could help if you could include others in your petition to show that you're not the only one affected by the limited processing power of your device.

Go a step further and research possible alternative computers, perhaps 2/3, and bring them with you to the meeting with your boss.

He may be impressed with how thoroughly you researched the situation and the practical/economical solution that you have come up with.

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If the codebase is on a different machine then the problem may be there rather than on your machine. What is it about PHP programming that requires a fast computer? It's just editing text files isn't?

In any case I think you should ask for a new machine by leading the manager to make the decision himself. I think you should offer a couple of alternative solutions which are good for you but possibly less desirable than replacing your machine.


  1. Explain that you'd like to be able to use your own machine (assuming it's up to the spec you expect) on the company network, because it provides more suitable performance for the work you have to do, and it has all your tools etc....

  2. Ask if there's another machine with a higher spec that you can remote into to do your work.

If you come up with a few suggestions/solutions like this, I think you'll probably find that your manager will be impressed by your "do whatever it takes to get the job done" approach and end up deciding to get you what you need without you having to ask for it directly.

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It is just editing text files, but today for instance, I was running many tabs in 3 different browsers, my editor with a bunch of tabs open, a terminal to my virtual machine and a MySQL client. All this along with Windows 7 on 4GB of RAM. I have considered taking in my MacBook, but friends have done this, and set a precedent - it's now expected that they keep bringing their own computer. – Thomas Coulter-Brophy Feb 13 '14 at 21:22
@ThomasCoulter-Brophy lol, my current work machine is 4Gb RAM - but its 32-bit, and I have to run VS and SQLServer on it! You kids have it so easy :) – gbjbaanb Mar 5 '14 at 19:37

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