Monday, March 06, 2006

The Reverse Truck Factor

The speaker at a recent technology user group meeting introduced me to the concept of "Truck Factor" of software projects. The Truck Factor (TF) is defined as the number of people who would need to be hit by a Truck to seriously jeopardize the project. It is a measure of the number of people the project cannot do without; the higher the number the better. Interesting.

I quickly did a mental exercise to find out the TF for the projects that I have worked in. It dawned on me that not only was the TF very small, there was a Reverse Truck Factor (RTF) in play. I define RTF as the number of people who need to be hit by a truck (or several, just to be sure) for the project to stabilise and have anywhere near a decent chance of achieving what it is supposed to. The lower the RTF, the better are the chances of a project to succeed.

Unfortunately for me, the RTF has been consistently high in almost all the projects that I have worked in as part of the software "services" industry. With just one or two notable exceptions, Managers could always be counted while deriving the RTF.