A theorem of software engineering

Brook's law claims that adding people to a late project delays it further. This law is taken to be canon and is treated as fundamental by many engineering teams and managers. While this is some-what true, it's a nuanced statement and shouldn't be called a "law". This article confronts and examines this "law".

  • Brook's law is only applicable to projects that are only delayed. It doesn't apply to projects that are in progress and/or early in their lifecycle.
  • As a team leader, if you can recruit more people on your team, you should consider this as yet another tool in your war against project timelines.* The Shortest Possible Schedule (SPS) theorem on the other hand provides a more realistic view into project management.
  • The SPS theorem states that adding people to a project can bring down the delivery timelines but only by 25%. You cannot go lower than that.
  • While weighing the cost of project timeline against cost, there is no pattern or consensus of what smaller teams can achieve in a larger timeline v/s larger teams in a compressed timeline.


As the old African proverb claims "If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together". As high performing teams, some need to do each more often than the other.

Full post here, 7 mins read.