Man-hour isn't a fixed size entity

by Rasmus Hvidberg Josiassen 7. January 2012 15:54

When a project-manager (and managers at large) takes a look at his project plan and realizes that deadlines are looming and the graphs on the burn-down aren’t burning at the right pace, he has three handles to pull. He can move the deadlines, he can lower the scope of the project or he can add more resources.

In most project-manager’s minds the implementation of a requirement equals a certain amount of developer-time. Thus the easy solution is to add more developer-time, and the requirements will be implemented equally faster. It’s quite simple, right? 20% more developer-hours shave off 20% of the calendar-time to implement the solution. Sorry, but unfortunately it’s not that simple.

There are three factors, which must be taken into account.

First: You can’t produce a child in just one month by adding eight extra women to the task. Some development tasks have the same type of constraint and require specialized knowledge and skills. Sharing that knowledge and skills can be difficult and expensive.

Second: When adding extra developers the need for coordination, processes, attention to quality standards and understanding of the requirements grows. And the people, who are most competent on training the new developers and reviewing their code, are often the developers who used to be the most productive ones. Hence adding new developers to the team comes at a greater price than just the hours it takes to train them and review their code, since the hours you spend on those tasks where the most productive hours you had.

I would suggest that when the project’s deadlines come under pressure, you should avoid the reflex action of adding extra man-hours to the project and instead be looking at how you can increase the productivity of the developers you already have. And if you decide to add more resources anyway (‘cause of course this in many cases is the right decision) then remember that a “man-hour” is indeed an entity that neither has a fixed size or a fixed price.

Tags: ,

Developer performance

Comments (12) -

Kaila Rancourt
Kaila Rancourt United States
1/22/2012 9:09:58 AM #

Hello from Russia . Great Work . Keep Posting Awesome Articles Like This .

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Trudi Pennimpede
Trudi Pennimpede United States
1/24/2012 8:27:19 AM #

You made some good points there. I did a search on web design and web design and found most people will agree with your blog.

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Diego Gillard
Diego Gillard United States
1/25/2012 5:56:44 AM #

You wouldn't believe it but I've wasted all day digging for some articles about this. You're a lifesaver, it was an excellent read and has helped me out to no end. Cheers,

Reply

Alba Justak
Alba Justak United States
3/28/2012 1:26:08 AM #

Mmmm... Mexi-poke. The car's looking better than ever! and the rims, oh man the rims. Also lols at the Zaku reference, maybe he should get a single red circular light in the middle of the grille

Reply

 work at home dad
work at home dad United States
4/9/2012 1:35:29 AM #

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game development
game development United States
4/14/2012 1:49:51 AM #

That graph you show is one of the most misleading graphs I've seen in years. I understand why Flurry made it so misleading: it's in their best interest to make the mobile market look better than it really is. It's their business.

Reply

toddlerboots.org
toddlerboots.org United States
4/18/2012 5:09:01 AM #

Wow! what an idea ! What a concept ! Beautiful .. Amazing. i bookmarked this!

Reply

Tomasa Dicarlo
Tomasa Dicarlo United States
4/25/2012 1:13:12 PM #

I love that bag, such a pretty pop of color!

Reply

Great report about it
Great report about it United States
5/4/2012 5:58:38 PM #

Everyone these days seems to be going Pinterest mad. Is this the next best thing well no one knows yet but there is a WP plug in available.

Reply

law
law United States
5/6/2012 9:48:47 AM #

It is fantastic that the EU are reducing the roaming rate even more, it makes it alot easier and cheaper to stay in contact with friends and family around the world!

Reply

Daina Greensfelder
Daina Greensfelder United States
5/7/2012 1:40:27 PM #

Agreed  especially if you can work on your Facebook page or Pinterest pinboard for instance. Getting your site viral via social media can get you the traffic that others invest thousands of dollars a month to get it.

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Violette Jarocki
Violette Jarocki United States
12/29/2012 2:29:47 AM #

Yes up to 4GB can work, but over 1GB there can be a few problems.

Reply

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About the author

I'm a software craftsman who ended up as manager and now is trying to get a grip on what makes good developers and how to establish a high performing developer environment in regards to people, processes and tools.

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