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Throwing More Resources on Projects
By Bryan P.

Has adding more resources to a project ever helped in speeding up the outcome?

I have tried to think of all the projects and products that I have worked on and I can confidently say, no, adding resources to a project has never helped the out come. Many clients or managers might think this is a viable option but in actuality there are many hidden costs that go into adding resources to a project.

The problem that is usually trying to be solved form doing this is to speed up the project delivery date. In my experience with adding resources here are the problems that I noticed:

  1. The delivery date is not actually sooner than the original date. By adding a developers, designers, content specialists, and even product managers to a product there is a learning curve that needs to be accounted for. The time to train these new resources takes away from the development of your product.
  2. Bugs are introduced. This kind follows the old saying by P-diddy, “Mo money Mo Problems.” Except the money in this example would be resources. Because new resources are being added that have not been with the project from the beginning, there is a high likely hood that they will introduce bugs into the system. The time it takes to fixing these bugs instead of doing it right the first time can be a huge headache.

  3. Consistency. Whether it is having the same voice, design, style, or functionality, by adding resources to a project you are ensuring that all of these areas will be consistently inconsistent.

  4. Added financial cost. This can be in the form of taking resources away from another project, hiring full time resources, or just hiring contract resources. Either way the resources don’t work for free.

  5. Reduction of creativity. By adding more resources to the mix you limit the opportunity of letting the team come up with creative solutions for their problems. There are differing views on this topic. Some think that constraints are a catalyst for creativity and others say that when your are overworked this limits creativity. I like to think that the constraints help but that is one to decide based on the circumstance.

Now of course there are things you can do to mitigate these problems. The best is to plan ahead of time and make sure all parties agree on the delivery date. I like the planning approach the best because if you are in the startup environment you might not be able to afford to add resources. You can also make sure that there is proper documentation in place to train the added resources, which is very rare when working in a startup. An obvious solution is to only hire quality resources into a project.

I wish I could say that I have had a successful experience with too many cooks in the kitchen but I have not. Maybe I can make it work with my current project…

Bryan P. is a Product Manager working on social networking projects. You an read more from Bryan on his blog, the Irrational PM.

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