What is your bus factor?

July 21, 2021

You may have heard of the bus factor, which is loosely defined as:

The minimum number of team members that, if hit by a bus*, would cause your project to stall due to lack of knowledge or skills.

*or otherwise disappear from the team.

To make this more concrete, if Bob is the only one on the team with knowledge of the databases, then you have a bus factor of 1. One unlucky bus incident could render the team crippled.

If Bob trains Carlos on the database, then the bus factor for the database increases to 2, which is a good thing. Rock stars lower your bus factor. Team players increase it.

In an ideal world, every team would have a bus factor of 2 or 3 (or more) for every piece of technology in use or skill needed.

What is your team’s bus factor? What prevents you from increasing it? Hit REPLY and let me know, if you don’t mind!