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Cheatsheet for “Peopleware”

Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams by DeMarco and Lister is a highly-regarded book in the field of software management. This is especially targeted at project leads and managers. No matter your experience level in software engineering, it provides timeless insight into how people matter more than technology.

There are many reviews of this book online, so I will not attempt to write a detailed one here. It is quite a verbose book (~240+ pages) whose material could be distilled very easily. Hence, this page will serve as a reference and cheatsheet of important points and highlights of the book.

Chapter 1: Somewhere today, a project is failing

The major problems of our work are not so much technological as sociological in nature.

Sociology includes things such as human communication problems, staffing problems, disenchantment with the boss or with the client, lack of motivation etc.

When a project is failing, the main reason we focus on the technical cause rather than the human side of the work, is because it’s easier to do so. Human interactions are complicated and never crisp-and-clean in their effects, unlike technical interactions.

Chapter 2: Make a cheeseburger, sell a cheeseburger

Software development cannot be managed the same was as a production line in a factory.

Chapter 3: Vienna waits for you

Productivity = (observed dollar savings and revenue from the work performed) / (total cost, including replacement of any workers used up by the effort)

People under time pressure don’t work better – they just work faster

And they may have to sacrifice the quality of the product and of their own work experience.

Chapter 4: Quality – If time permits


  1. ‘He’ means he or she. ‘His’ means his or her etc.  ↩