In software development, a software project's bus factor (also known as truck factor, or bus/truck number) is a measurement of the concentration of information in individual team members. The bus factor is the total number of key developers who would need to be incapacitated (as by getting hit by a bus/truck) to send the project into such disarray that it would not be able to proceed; the project would retain information (such as source code) with which no remaining team member is familiar. A high bus factor means that many developers would need to be removed before the project would necessarily fail.
"Getting hit by a bus" could take many different forms. This could be a person taking a new job, having a baby, changing their lifestyle or life status, or literally getting hit by a bus: the effect would be the same. The term was commonplace in business management by 1998, was used in mental health in the same year, was seen in software engineering papers in Association for Computing Machinery and Information Systems Frontiers by 1999, and the term "Bus Factor" was used in engineering by 2003.
- Coplien, John -Pair Programming Illuminated. Quote: "How many or few would have to be hit by a truck (or quit) before the project is incapacitated?"
- Simon, Robert (17 May 1998). The Mental Health Practitioner and the Law: A Comprehensive Handbook. Harvard University Press. p. 69. ISBN 0-674-69721-9.
- Michele Marchesi, Giancarlo Succi, Don Wells, James Donovan Wells, Laurie Williams (2003). Extreme Programming Perspectives. Boston u. a.: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-77005-9.
- Laurie Williams, Robert Kessler (2002). Pair Programming Illuminated. Boston u. a.: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 0-201-74576-3.
- Kent Beck (2000). Extreme Programming. Das Manifest (in German). s. l.: Addison-Wesley. ISBN 3-8273-2139-5.
- Poisonous People, a talk that includes (among other topics) discussion of bus factor and how to increase it
- Integrating GIS in the Engineering, Planning and Design Processes, a paper by Matthew C. Redmond and Paul Newton, dated 2003. The oldest known engineering reference to the Bus Factor.