In it’s latest issue, Fortune Magazine has an article where they review Brooks’ 30 year old law:
“Adding people to a late software project makes it later.”
And how that law really applies to all industries.
In the interview, and when talking about why the law applies across industries, Frank Brooks goes on to say:
“Brooks’ law depends heavily on the amount of information that has to be communicated. So the argument is that if you add people to a project that you already know is late, which means you’re at least in the middle of the project, you have to repartition the work. That’s a job in itself: Just deciding who is going to do what means that instead of having the thing divided into the units you had it divided into, you have to divide it into more units. Sometimes that can be done by subdividing the existing units, but sometimes you have to move boundaries. That’s a lot of work. The next thing is, you have to train the new people. Who can train them? Only the old people. So they quit working and go to training. And the new people are green and have to get up to speed. So there’s a period where they’re unproductive, and there’s a period when they are less productive. And there’s a period when they inject errors into the process. Then there are just more people to communicate to.”
That is why if you can get some sort of collaborative tool adopted, you should push for it. If the whole project’s history is in one place, and accessible by new team members, you will cut down dramatically on getting that person up to speed and also on using other team member’s time to make that happen.