Reflecting on my own experience with Brooks’s Law

An interesting take today from Gruber on a concept (Brooks’s Law) that you may not know by name, but may have witnessed in your life.

Personally, I have vivid firsthand experience with Brooks’s Law, from the 7 months I worked at Best Buy corporate in 2000. The dev team was ludicrously large, and I honestly couldn’t figure out what 99% of them were doing there. Aside from a few project managers, a handful of content writers/editors, and 4 of us on the dev team — 2 front-end devs (including myself) and 2 back-end devs/database admins — I really feel like no one else needed to be there, and the fact that there were so many people made everything take way longer and cost way more than it needed to.

Microsoft contributed $150 million worth of software and consultant time to the project, including a relatively huge team working with some of the other devs at Best Buy who I never had any contact with, all for the process of customizing a 7-figure behemoth Content Management System (CMS) called Vignette StoryServer to suit our needs.

That project dragged on for months, including many months beyond when I left. In the meantime, I spent a weekend building a quick-and-dirty, database-less (since as a front-end dev I wasn’t allowed direct access to databases, because roles!) CMS to allow our writers to load their own content into pages instead of having to send Word docs to the other front-end dev and myself to key in as HTML (stupid!)… and my QDCMS worked so well, they were still using it almost a year after I quit!