Brooks' Law Revisited: Improving Software Productivity by Managing Complexity
Vanderbilt University - Operations Management
Michael A. Lapre
Vanderbilt University - Owen Graduate School of Management
Luk N. Van Wassenhove
According to Brooks' law for software development projects "adding manpower to a late software project makes it later." Building on Brooks' law, we argue that complexity increases the maximum team size in software development projects (Hypothesis 1), and that maximum team size decreases software development productivity (Hypothesis 2). We test these hypotheses with a dataset of 117 software development projects conducted in Finland. Hypothesis 1 is supported for two out of three measures of complexity. We also find strong support for Hypothesis 2. In order to mitigate the negative impact of team size on productivity, managers should pay close attention to the logical complexity of software as well as the interfaces to other software.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: Project Management, Software Development, Software Productivity, Complexity, Project Team Size
JEL Classification: M10working papers series
Date posted: August 8, 2006
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