Brooks' Law Revisited: Improving Software Productivity by Managing Complexity

24 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2006

See all articles by Joseph Blackburn

Joseph Blackburn

Vanderbilt University - Operations Management

Michael A. Lapre

Vanderbilt University - Operations Management

Luk N. Van Wassenhove

INSEAD

Date Written: May 2006

Abstract

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.

Keywords: Project Management, Software Development, Software Productivity, Complexity, Project Team Size

JEL Classification: M10

Suggested Citation

Blackburn, Joseph D. and Lapre, Michael A. and Van Wassenhove, Luk N., Brooks' Law Revisited: Improving Software Productivity by Managing Complexity (May 2006). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=922768 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.922768

Joseph D. Blackburn

Vanderbilt University - Operations Management ( email )

Nashville, TN 37203
United States

Michael A. Lapre (Contact Author)

Vanderbilt University - Operations Management ( email )

401 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37203
United States
615-322-2389 (Phone)
615-343-7177 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.owen.vanderbilt.edu/faculty-and-research/faculty-directory/faculty-profile.cfm?id=114

Luk N. Van Wassenhove

INSEAD ( email )

Boulevard de Constance
77 305 Fontainebleau Cedex
France
(33) (0)1 60 72 42 66 (Phone)
(33) (0)1 60 72 40 49 (Fax)

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
285
Abstract Views
1,756
rank
105,947
PlumX Metrics