In the 25 years since The Mythical Man-Month what have we learned about project management? (Verner et al., 1999)

Mythical Man Month

Verner, J. M.; Overmeyer, S. P.; McCain, K. W.: In the 25 years since The Mythical Man-Month what have we learned about project management?; in: Information and Software Technology, Vol. 41 (1999), No. 14, pp. 1021-1026.

The original Fred Brooks‘ book ‚The Mythical Man-Month‚ (1975) explored why IT projects usually deliver late. It states a couple of reasons

  • Poor estimations and the assumption that everything will go well
  • Estimation techniques which confuse effort with progress and vice versa
  • Managers are uncertain about estimates and the do not stubbornly support them
  • No one publishes productivity figures, thus no one can defend his estimates
  • Poor schedule monitoring and control
  • If slippage occur man power is added, which makes it worse – here Brooks introduces the concept of the n*(n-1)/2 communication channels on a team

Verner et al. revisit the original claims and check them against critical success factor research. They found that most of these claims still hold true – but that ‚recently‘ a lot more factors touching the human side of project management have been discovered, e.g., senior management support, customer relationships, knowledgeable and experienced project manager.

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