Mismanaging Software Development

Jeff De Luca's picture

Chad Dickerson at Infoworld has an article on the top 20 I.T. mistakes to avoid. You can read the multi-page article by clicking here.

This is number 9 from his list.

In his seminal book The Mythical Man-Month, Frederick Brooks posited that planning software-development projects based on per-unit “man-months” ultimately does not work due to the unique nature of software development.

Even if the building of software could be broken into easily managed, interchangeable time units, the vast productivity difference between the best coders and merely average ones means IT managers might get their best work out of fewer, but more talented, programmers doing their work in less time.

Henri Asseily, CTO of BizRate, tells us via e-mail, “The right individual will always create better and faster core software than a group of people [will]. Everyone in every industry talks the usual talk of, ‘We invest in people,’ or, ‘Our people are our greatest asset,’ but nowhere is it more important than in IT. Simply put, a great programmer is 100 times more valuable than a regular programmer.”

The mythical man-month has been part of software lore since Brooks’ book came out 30 years ago, but many IT managers still plan projects and staff them based on this disproved paradigm. Holding on to this method might lead a naïve IT manager to staff a project with the right number of people for a defined amount of work, but CTOs such as Asseily insist that getting quality people is most important.

“IT managers should devote most of their free time to [finding] the best people. Almost nothing else matters, really,” Asseily says.

Nicely done Chad. So too for your number 11 - "Developing web apps for IE only"

cover of The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, 20th  Anniversary EditionThe Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering, 20th Anniversary Edition
author: Frederick P. Brooks
asin: 0201835959