The Mythical Man-Month

The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering is a remarkable book on software engineering and project management.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later

This is the Brook’s Law and is the most famous quote of the book.

When schedule slippage is recognized, the natural response is to add manpower, but it works like dousing a fire with gasoline: this makes matters worse, much worse. The people working in the project needs to stop their work in order to train new team members, it’s necessary to increase the level of communication,…

Men and months are not interchangeable

The estimating techniques, built around cost-accounting, confuse effort and progress; the man-month is a fallacious and dangerous myth, for it implies that men and months are interchangeable.

The number of months of a project depends upon its sequential constraints. The maximum number of men depends upon the number of independent subtasks.

The idea that a baby can’t be produced any quicker by having 9 women rather than just one is a particularly common metaphor used to explain this.

Development teams with the most skilled developers

Another important point outlines that the most effective structure of a development team is when the work is performed by small teams of the most skilled developers, because it is easier to achieve the required design consistency and it is much cheaper than a much larger number of developers of average ability.

In some organizations developers are treated as interchangeable commodities, rather than the guardians of the system’s conceptual consistency. Good developers produce many fewer bugs and create solutions that drive the organization forward much more effectively.

Summing-up: during the estimation, we must to focus on sequential constraints and independent subtasks. The most effective structure is to have small teams of very skilled developers.

These Notes have been taken from:

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