It is well known in the project management world that adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. This is known as Brooks' law. An analogy is that you can't use 9 women to make a baby in one month.
A couple of days ago, at Manas we did the experiment of doing a one-day project with a team of 15 developers, architects and designers. The rules were:
- The only design artifact that we had before the day was an idea of what we wanted to built, there were no documents written or spikes.
- None could have their environment set up in advance.
- We chose to build the system in Google App Engine a new framework and language in which most of the team had no experience at all.
- The whole project from its inception up to its deployment needed to be done in exactly one day.
- Every member on the team was required to be fully committed to the project, no part-time allocations were accepted.
The result was amazing. We actually managed to start at 9AM with a general meeting and creating a Vision and Scope document in 30 minutes. We then split in some groups, one of them creating the user stories, the other defining the basic look and feel. During the coding phase everybody was pairing and we even rotated partners between user stories.
The nice thing was that we experimented almost every phase in a real project in just one day. By 3PM everyone was lost, none knew what the rest of the team was doing, we had finished every originally planned task and we realized that a lot of 'glue' tasks were missing to tie up together the functionality. We did another general meeting to review what we had and what we needed, reinforced the team morale and got back to work. By 7PM we were deploying the finished product!
It was a really fun and enriching experience and although stressing, the energy in the office was enjoyable.