When a software project is thought to be behind schedule, a common assumption is that adding more people to the team(s) will yield the desired improvement in terms of bringing in the project completion date. What occurs immediately after adding new people is that the completion of work tends to be slower for a period of time. To paraphrase Fred Brooks, who first mentioned this phenomenon in his book The Mythical Man Month, adding more people to a late software project makes it later. He observes that the time it takes for people added to a project to become productive is “ramp up” time, because as they learn the new problem space, they typically need to rely on one or more existing team members for information, which slows those team members down, at least for a period of time. Another impact of making a team larger is that it increases the number of communication channels, resulting in a geometric increase in communication nodes. That is, as more people are added, it becomes more challenging for them to be fully aware of what everyone else is doing.
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Authored by Philip Rogers
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