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I have a little/mid-size software project idea which I am currently planning to do on my own. Or there may be maximum 1-2 other developers joining.

Does it worth to apply any of the project management techniques? If yes, which one? So far I have worked with scrum at work, but the optimal team size for scrum is up to 8 people, and you have two others (SM and PO) doing PM.

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Is it worth to apply any of the project management techniques?

Whether a one-person team or more, applying project management principles will always help because it provides a way to measure project status and visibility into the actual progress. However the level of processes application may vary, that is, various PM processes can be carried out with less strictness. For a small project you may skip some of the PM artifacts or tone down some of the PM tasks.

The most basic PM concepts are:

  • Defining and managing work to do (the what part)
  • Estimating timeline and schedule (the when part)
  • Coming up with budgetary numbers (the cost part)

These 3 are fundamental parts of every project and combined together they make up a project plan. Having a project plan will always help you otherwise your project may go into chaos mode.

If you have a documented plan then do track your progress often (daily or weekly) so that at every point in time you can objectively measure project's status (as opposed to relying on your gut feeling). Having the basic PM building blocks in place will ensure that when the team size grows you don't loose control and visibility of the status & progress.

For small project, other PM procedures such as risk management or change control processes can be skipped.

Which technique to use?

For a one-person project you may use any technique, waterfall, scrum, or any other. Objective of all of these techniques is the same, helping you in managing the projects. However, the practices used in each of the techniques are different. In waterfall, you'll be managing your requirement using Work Breakdown Structure. In scrum, you'll be doing the same using Product Backlog and User Stories.

I suggest you pick an approach with which you are most comfortable and have experience in.

For a one-person team, PO, SM, developer, tester responsibilities will be handled by the same person. As the team size grows, different team members can assume each of those responsibilities.

Recommend some software

Unfortunately, I would not be able to recommend some software as Stack Exchange does not encourage tool recommendations because they tend to become obsolete quickly.

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Even if you dont want to apply any of the Project management techniques, you will end up using a few of them.

Decision regarding which technique to use largely depends on type of work you would be doing and team you would have. Also the schedule that you would follow would play important role.

Regarding tools: I have seen people managing projects successfully just using MS Excel. If your budget is not big and also the things to be maintained and tracked are not very complex I think you can manage using Excel or MPP.

Important things to track are budget, estimate, work progress and defects.

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Aziz has a great answer, but I would not skip risk management just because it is a small project or you're on your own.

When you have the What and the When cleared out, take some time to reflect upon the impedements that you will encounter along the way. This doesn't have to take much time (in fact, it is a continuous process) and it will probably help you take action before it is too late.

Go over your WBS (or product backlog, which is the same) and ask yourself what could go wrong when realising each deliverable.

For measuring progress, use some kind of a Kanban board (Scrum in itself doesn't make much sense when you're on your own). When more developers join, you can create this easily in a spreadsheet or drawing program and put the file in the cloud somewhere (or use a free version of one of the many online tools).

Good luck

  • +1000 on risk! But, can only do 1. :) – David Espina Jul 17 '13 at 10:35
  • @DavidEspina you always have the option to award a bounty :) – Aziz Shaikh Jul 17 '13 at 10:44
  • +1 Thanks for raising the importance of risk management and mentioning Kanban board. – Aziz Shaikh Jul 18 '13 at 7:02
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I would like to add one more important thing is tracking your budgets and progress of the project is the key. I know this every one does as part of the project. I would like to illustrate with one example using hours-reforecasting method.

Let us say 3rd week you would like to know the progress for these activities.

Activity plannedhrs hrs-to-date hrs-remaining est-hrs-to-complete

Coding. 100 40 60 80

Testcases. 100. 50. 50. 40

The last coumn is key and Calculate the % completion based on 210 hours instead of actual planned 200 hours.

This hours-reforcasting method is likely to give you a far more accurate information on the project. Helpful to know weekly tracking and repeat this for every week. Also practice makes perfect. Hope this helps.

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My 2 cents is to go for an agile management approach. I think that the article Is There a Project Management Methodology for One-Person Projects? is just what you were looking for.

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