The Mythical “Tech Surge”

I’ve mentioned The Mythical Man Month here before. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s one of the seminal books on project management, particularly software project management. One of the book’s central observations is that adding manpower to a late software project delays it.

There is a coherent reason to think that might be so. As the number of workers on a project is increased the intercommunications time, the amount of time required for the people working on the project to interact with one another, increases. There is a point at which the primary effect of adding workers is increasing intercommunications time.

Human beings are not machines and poorly designed software projects are not styrofoam cups. If you need to produce twice as many styrofoam cups, twice as many molding machines and twice as much material for making cups should do it (ignoring the requirements for increased space, energy, logistics, etc.). Software development projects don’t work that way.

But that’s what I think when I read this:

The Obama administration is admitting it has a problem and has called “the best and the brightest” tech experts from the private and public sector to fix the website to the online health insurance marketplace that has been plagued by glitches since it was launched almost three weeks ago. “We’re kind of thinking of it as a tech ‘surge,’” a Health and Human Services Department official tells Politico.

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