Rule of Thumb: Project Mgmt & Support Effort

The percentage of total effort applied to project management and support activities is between 12 to 18 percent. This rule of thumb provides a reasonableness check of the project management and support effort, considering the total project effort.


This rule of thumb is based on Capers Jones analysis of the distribution of effort experienced on over 1300 software projects, as cited in Applied Software Measurement.


Management and support activities include the effort of the project management staff (e.g., Project Director, Deputy Project Director, Project Manager, and Team Leader) as well as Project Management Specialists and secretarial support.

Tips and Hints

Management and support effort increases as the size of the project increases. A small project (e.g., from 25 to 50 person months) will require approximately 12 percent of total project effort; a large project (around 6,500 person months) will require approximately 18 percent of total project effort.

Other factors can affect the percentage of project management and support effort required, such as specific customer requirements, the political organization, and the skills and experience of the project team.


Assume a total project effort of 64 person months (or 1,216 person days) of effort. Thirteen percent of the total effort is 158 person days.


Jones, Capers. 1991. Applied Software Measurement: Assuring Productivity and Quality. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, Inc. ISBN: 0-07-032813-7. Craig (Chief Technology Tactician)