January 13, 2006
News & Opinion: Project Management 1975-style
In a prior life, I worked as a project manager on a large enterprise software project. I was brought in as the functional guy on the project. I had no experience really in IT outside of building a Excel spreadsheet. As we were starting the project, we brought in a project management trainer and one of the first things he talked about was Brooks' law -- Adding people late to a software project makes it later.
In the recent leadership issue of Fortune, Daniel Roth interviews the Fred Brooks. Fred worked at IBM and managed the development of the System/360 computers and OS/360 software. In 1975, he published a book called The Mythical Man-Month, where he details all of the things he learned.
One of the interesting things about the book is the wide acceptance it has found outside the software community. Brooks says in the Q&A:
Surprisingly enough, a partner in a big law firm said, "Oh, this describes our practice." I've had physicians say the same. It's really about people and people in teams: the communications problems, the scheduling problems, the estimating problems.