I'm working on a software development project on a team with only two persons and it's not an option to consider hiring more people.

This appears to be a case where one has to respond to change over following a plan because the team is small in comparison to the ideal 5-6 people.

Do you happen to know successful cases in such conditions? If so, how was the team organized and how were they able to deliver the project with success?

  • Do you mean two developers or two people altogether?
    – nvoigt
    Mar 7, 2019 at 11:54
  • Two people altogether. Mar 7, 2019 at 13:04
  • 1
    XP has many practices that are effective even on small teams, including customer collaboration and pair programming. You may want to start there, instead of trying to adopt a framework meant for larger teams.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Mar 8, 2019 at 14:11

4 Answers 4


You can adopt agile with any size of team as it is an approach to doing software development. As you mention in your question, one of the key aspects is to favour responding to change over following a plan.

It gets a bit more complicated if you are talking about using agile frameworks.

The Scrum Guide suggests a minimum team size of 3. This is because with very small teams synchronisation is rarely an issue and so the benefits of Scrum are reduced.

Kanban doesn't really have a lower team size limit although you could argue again that the benefits may be slightly reduced in a team of two.

  • 2
    Thank you again for the guidance Barnaby Golden! Mar 7, 2019 at 18:29

The same rules apply as for a bigger team:

  • Make sure the stories are well defined

  • Estimate the work as good as possible

  • Have a planning session and plan the sprint according to the capacity

  • Do the work during the sprint

You could argue if it makes sense to have all the SCRUM related meetings because there are only two of you and you work very closely together.

Hopefully there are customers, stakeholders and product owner to show your work to. If that is not the case then maybe just doing the things I mentioned above would be enough and you do not follow scrum to the letter with all the meetings that belong to it.


In your case, a Scrumban would be the solution, which means using Scrum methodologies tailored for a small team.

Kanban would be a good start and later adopt Scrum when the team is big enough or when the daily activity demands it. Scrum brings too much overhead for a small software team.

It is strongly advised to start from the beginning with the top of the art tools that help you stay organized and help you deliver quality. Any ticketing system should work, but I would recommend Jira and Bitbucket. Confluence could also be good. All of them are already integrated, as part of Atlassian suite. If you consider CI/CD, linking Bitbucket with Jenkins is trivial and would help you a lot.


As with any team, as project manager you need to allow them to manage themselves whenever possible. This is because project managers rarely have direct line management authority over the teams. The team will need to:

Agree the work (scope) to deliver Understand and agree the quality of each item in the scope Plan their work, with only 2 people this is probably best done in 1 week chunks. When estimating I would suggest "sizing" small medium or large for example and try to get things as small as possible as PM you should help the team plan, and not plan for them. If the team have any issues you should be there to help them. Go see them regularly, at least once a week, but to start with maybe daily, buy them a coffee. Get them to complete a simple quality register with dates showing when a feature was checked and if it passed or failed (this might sound over the top but people will be reluctant to tell you bad news and they might gloss over the verbal reporting but they will almost never lie in a quality register)

Hope that helps

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