Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Busting the Mythical Man Month

How to quadruple your productivity with an army of student interns

Posted in Ksplice on March 10th, 2010 by Greg Price17 Comments

Startup companies are always hunting for ways to accomplish as much as possible with what they have available. Last December we realized that we had a growing queue of important engineering projects outside of our core technology that our team didn’t have the time to finish anytime soon. To make matters worse, we wanted the projects completed right away, in time for our planned product launch in early February.

So what did we do? The logical solution, of course. We quadrupled the size of our company’s engineering team for one month using paid student interns.

20 men and women posing for a group photo

The Ksplice interns, ca. January 2010. Photo credit:

Now, if you happen to know Fred Brooks, please don’t tell him what we did. He managed the Windows Vista of the 1960s—IBM’s OS/360, a software project of unprecedented size, complexity, and lateness—and wrote up the resulting hard-earned lessons in The Mythical Man-Month, which everyone managing software projects should read. The big one is Brooks’s Law: “adding manpower to a late software project makes it later”. Oops.

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