tl;dr I'm looking for an agile project management methodology for largely single developer hardware engineering

Some background:

I'm currently finishing up my degree in Electrical Engineering, and will be doing a project for my thesis. The uni is very strict about proper project management, though you are free to use any methodology of your choosing as long as it's well-documented/structured.

The company I work at and will be graduating at is very agile-oriented and works heavily using iterative methods. Normally Scrum would be the way to go, but for my final thesis I'm expected by the university to work largely on my own.

Most agile methods are very heavily dependent on teamwork, and don't seem to function well for teams under 3, let alone 1. The few I can find are very heavily software-oriented and don't appear to apply well to hardware development.

Does anyone know of any hardware project management methods that cater well to smaller teams?

  • Any agile implementation can be applied for your project. I don't see any impediments. What are the challenges you are facing, if you may please stem out, that would be great to understand.
    – Devasuran
    Jan 18, 2018 at 17:01
  • 2
    In my experience, most project management methodologies (agile or otherwise) are made for teams to solve issues around communication and coordination. There are good practices for project execution that may be useful, but I'm not sure about finding a project management methodology that, out-of-the-box, addresses projects with 1 person working on them.
    – Thomas Owens
    Jan 18, 2018 at 17:13
  • @Devasuran I'm in the very early stages of the project so the challenges aren't clear yet. I'm hoping to have talks with some of the stakeholders to get a clearer picture of the wishes and requirements. The project will revolve around the R&D of a new laser-based projection system. Foreseeable impediments are mostly the usuals - communication issues with stakeholders and suppliers, too little time and funding, etc. A major point that may become an issue down the line is laser safety certification, something we have little experience with but will be a major requirement for the final system Jan 18, 2018 at 18:14
  • Now, I understand the situation better. I will revert shortly after interacting with my colleague who is a process expert in hardware development and manufacturing.
    – Devasuran
    Jan 19, 2018 at 4:56
  • Well, this what I learned from my peers. You might need to leaf out certain processes that could help you achieve your goal - from problem research to first customer shipment. For example, you could use Rapid Prototyping techniques to arrive at your prototype, etc. Schedule techniques using PERT can be used based on the WBS you arrive at. Bits and pieces from traditional and agile can be stemmed out for a single person at an earlier stage. I am a newbie in Hardware. Will wait to learn from others.
    – Devasuran
    Jan 19, 2018 at 13:55

1 Answer 1



What you say is certainly true for Scrum. It would not be possible to use the Scrum framework without a team and many practices in Scrum primarily deliver value when the whole framework is in place.

That is not to say, however, that you couldn't use many practices from Scrum. For example, you could put work items in a backlog, work in sprints at the end of which you have a shippable product iteration, and even conduct sprint reviews with some stakeholder if your professor will help on that front.


Like Scrum, this is not effective without a team. However, also like Scrum, there are many practices that come from XP that you may find useful. Some of those practices include User Stories, Test-first approaches, and continuous integration. On the other hand, pair programming is a required practice that you couldn't fulfill.


While not strictly a method or strictly agile, Kanban puts structure around your existing process to enable effective improvement and creates a high level of visibility.

I'm not clear from your question if you must use a well-established methodology or framework exactly as it is documented - I'm not sure how you'd even use PMI's approach to the letter with only one person - but if they are simply asking that are clear and document how you approach the project, then there is a lot to be leveraged in these different approaches.

  • 1
    Of these, neither Scrum nor XP fit the bill of "project management methods that cater well to smaller teams". You shouldn't say that you are using a methodology if you aren't using a methodology, and you can't use Scrum or XP as it's defined by their creators for a single person. Extracting good practices is not the same as using a methodology. Kanban (traditional Kanban, and not the poorly named "Kanban Methodology" developed by David Anderson) is the only one that translate well to an individual.
    – Thomas Owens
    Jan 18, 2018 at 17:42
  • I'll read into these and discuss with my professors, perhaps if I'm able to motivate my choices to cherry pick certain aspects they'll be more lenient, given that they themselves have put the emphasis on a solo project. Jan 18, 2018 at 18:16
  • @Thomas - I absolutely agree. I thought I said that in the answer - it was certainly my intent to. I've edited it to try to make this clearer.
    – Daniel
    Jan 18, 2018 at 18:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.