Scheduling Software Development

Brian's Classroom Support Calendar, StanfordEdTech

Don’t use anything fancy like Microsoft Project. The trouble with Microsoft Project is that it assumes that you want to spend a lot of time worrying about dependencies….I’ve found that with software, the dependencies are so obvious that it’s just not worth the effort to formally keep track of them.

— Joel Spolsky, Painless Software Schedules

That article has many other great insights, including:

If you are sloppy, and pick big “chunky” tasks (“implement grammar correction”), then you haven’t really thought about what you are going to do. And when you haven’t thought about what you’re going to do, you just can’t know how long it will take.


Many rookie software managers think that they can “motivate” their programmers to work faster by giving them nice, “tight” (unrealistically short) schedules. I think this kind of motivation is brain-dead. When I’m behind schedule, I feel doomed and depressed and unmotivated. When I’m working ahead of schedule, I’m cheerful and productive. The schedule is not the place to play psychological games.

As the article is over ten years old, Joel has end-of-lifed it, and replaced it with this one from 2007. I still like the original!

Photo: “Brian’s Classroom Support calendar” by StanfordEdTech