Swarm Engineering

Are these guys really Robin Hood and his Merry Men as they claim, or Genghis Khan and the Mongol hordes?
Robert Miller

The concept of swarm engineering, using many capable but cheaper resources to swarm onto discrete pieces of a complex, lengthy task and deliver a faster, cheaper outcome has its merits.

There are many discrete pieces of your OctopOSS that could be done by resources in any locations. Samples include:

  • Coding
  • Testing
  • Data creation
  • Data cleansing
  • Data loading
  • Process development
  • Coordination
  • Graphic development
  • etc

As indicated in an earlier blog entry, the risk is in the management of the swarm, ensuring the individual context of each task is well understood by each member of the swarm. The example above showed context of knowing the data, but “context” could also extend to product knowledge, customer objectives, project / organisation vision, etc.

To manage the swarm, each task and it’s related inputs, outputs, dependencies, etc has to be carefully planned in advance. It is through the use of WBS that I undertake the first stages of work breakdown and delegation.

What methods do you use to manage the swarm?

Are your experiences more akin with the Mongol Horde or Robin Hood’s merry men?

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