I'm currently doing a my final year project and have used the methods employed by the Scrum project methodology to break down my requirements into manageable parts.

I have a question as to whether there are methodologies that are used which are catered to a one man team? The way I did my project was by using the structure of scrum in my own situation, i.e. I made the product backlog, ran through what I could accomplish in one sprint, implemented it, assessed it and moved on to the next once the work was acceptable.

But is that how it works if you have to tackle a project on your own? You pick up the structure of a methodology that would suit you and then run with it? Or are there other methodologies out there that are for "freelance developers"?

I can justify for myself that the technique I used was appropriate for me and it worked, but I just want to know if it is acceptable, professionally, to adopt a technique which is built around a team effort and use it individually.

I'd appreciate any feedback

  • As has been pointed out, technically, you weren't doing Scrum - but you may have been something in an Agile fashion. Having said that, to answer the specific question, albeit via a comment, I've found Lean Software Development to be really effective for one person. But, the Scrum guide (scrum.org) is definitely explicit in that if you don't have all the parts, which are few - at minimum - you're not doing Scrum; which usually amounts to doing something approaching a lean-style.
    – Josh Bruce
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 2:01
  • @JoshBruce Thanks for the comment - I've never heard of Lean Software Development but after having a brief glimpse at wikipedia it seems like it is also based on a team of people working on the project. Could you explain why I wasn't doing Scrum? I'm sure that wasn't the conclusion reached; I was using Scrum appropriately by adapting its concepts into my project, limited only by a team of people.
    – atomiton
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 22:26
  • Sure. The Scrum Guide defines 3 roles: the Scrum Master, the Product Owner, and team member; which are different individuals (or a group of cross-functional people working together). The Scrum Guide also calls out 4 meetings (time-boxed); the sprint planning meeting, the sprint review (all stakeholders review the results of the sprint), the sprint retrospective (the teams modifies processes), and the daily stand-up (the team coordinates). Lastly, the Scrum Guide states that the parts of Scrum are immutable, if you don't have all parts, you are not doing Scrum. Which is not bad mind you.
    – Josh Bruce
    Commented Apr 20, 2013 at 20:05
  • @JoshBruce I wasn't informed of the last statement that the parts of Scrum are immutable, thanks for letting me know.
    – atomiton
    Commented Apr 21, 2013 at 20:19

5 Answers 5


I can justify for myself that the technique I used was appropriate for me and it worked

For me, that's all that matters. I've never once worked in an environment that didn't adapt project management methodologies (PRINCE2, Scrum, Kanban and whatever else) to its own specific needs or organisational limitations.

It's really useful to understand the academic/technical definitions of these different approaches to project management but in a real world situation you will often find yourself having to adapt them. It's when you need to adapt them that you will find your knowledge of their history and their 'pure' implementations most helpful because you will understand (and, most importantly, be able to communicate) the impact of making adaptations to the methodology.

Good luck with the project!

  • Awesome answer, just what I wanted to confirm. Thanks for sharing
    – atomiton
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 9:11

Scrum is by definition addressed to teams of 3 to 9 members. So theoretically it is not a good idea to use scrum for one man projects. And even worse in your case due to the fact that it seems that there is niether PO nor Scrum Master.

You could decide to play all roles but it won't be a good idea since those roles are normally facing eachother.

Said that, you could adapt the scrum methodology for using it in your one man project and it will probably success, that's one of the good things of scrum, that you can adapt it to your own requirements.

In the following link you'll find a discussion about this issue https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/questions/59713/best-development-methodology-for-one-person

  • There are only like no more than 3 roles that I would have to fulfil right? Scrum Master, Development team being the main ones. I've basically done the job of both, with taking my project supervisor as a kind of scrum master, and my volunteered client as a product owner. I think its worked out quite nicely. Thanks for reassuring me of being able to adopt the methodology to cater to my needs
    – atomiton
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 21:23
  • if those people can act as SM and PO I think you can do it. It is not perfect but as long as it success....
    – iberbeu
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 21:49

I think Scrum can work efficiently on one man projects too. As a development team needs to be self manageable, you can think yourself as a particle of a team. The daily meeting could be a time for collect problems of past days for make decisions and search for help with the PO and other resources that you have access. The sprint retrospective will also exists, when you will collect the lessons for make yourself better in next cycle. Maybe can be a good idea to involve more your PO, if theres one.

But I think the big difference is that the conflicts probably will not exists, but you will have all the other artifacts of a normal Scrum project (backlog, planing, scrum poker alone, scope, sprint, daily retrospective, sprint retrospective..)

  • Yeah I agree, its just that all the lecturers in my university first say to use a project methodology or at least define one, and then (now) they say why did you choose this one as it requires a team. I was just wondering if there are methodologies out there that are made for a one man project. Thanks for the input
    – atomiton
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 13:34
  • Everything can work it's just matter does it make sense. Scrum was meant to be used by teams of 3-7 people. Many of the artifacts that are mentioned in an answer are not actually Scrum artifacts: planning poker, daily retrospective (never heard of it), scope (??) or just some things that can be used with Scrum, but are not part of Scrum framework. Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 11:52

Scrum doesn't seem right way to go about. Scrum is more about creating hyper-productive teams. That's the goal behind this framework.

As much as I like @Willl answer I would recommend you to checkout

Personal Kanban

It is Kanban implementation popularized by Jim Benson aimed at personal productivity.

Gains for your project

You could clearly visualize your flow, limit WIP which can have huge productivity boost and when you'll have a board with items flowing through the board you will get this morale boost and sense of moving forward.


You could use physical whiteboard or one of two that I found cool and useful for Personal Kanban:

Good luck with your project.

  • Wow, I've never heard of Kanban before, is it a "professional" project methodology, because I've never heard it mentioned at university. Sounds like it would have been a great way to keep things organised when I was doing my project, but I stuck with Scrum. I definitely would have taken this on board if I could go back in time, especially with the Trello app! Thanks for your input @Ursus, still much appreciated :)
    – atomiton
    Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 21:12
  • @atomiton No problem man. Yes, it's as much "professional" as Scrum, but got adopted much later and it comes from Lean movement. It's much more "trendy" nowadays in agile/lean world than Scrum. Commented Sep 5, 2013 at 22:43

I wouldn't so much as call it a project management 'methodology' as much as personal time and task management. It is whatever system you develop to get things done and accomplish the work of the project.


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