Mastering Project Management Methodologies for Startups [Examples & Tools Suggestions]

Project Management Methodologies for Startup

In the late 2020, I was Googling “Project Management Methodologies for Startup” to understand what is project management methodologies and why it is important for startups. I found hundreds of articles but most of them are too technical and they confused me with choosing the right one for my startup “Serpple“.

One thing I understood was, that not all startup ideas are the same in terms of development. In my case my product idea, needs a solid engine where it scraps Google results and parses the SERP pages to find rankings of all the domains.

So, I need an engine first. Without that, my startup idea would become nothing.

So, what methodology was I suppose to choose? Is it really necessary to choose a standard project management methodology for my startup?

After a long immersive research, I found out how to carry out project management for my startup idea. And here I am sharing with you my experience and insights on how to find the right project management methodologies for any startup.

As a first step to make a final decision, I listed my questions: How to do my core engine development? How flexible will it be if I choose a methodology? Will it affect my budget if my development team focuses more on methodology rather than executing the final product? What is wrong with choosing a regular development method rather than a project management methodology? How these project management methodologies helps to solve software development challenges for startup? I had many such questions and sought to find the answers.

Let me start with my first question and my findings.

What is Project Management Methodology?

In short, a project management methodology is a set of principles, practices, and techniques used to plan, execute, and manage projects from initiation to completion. It provides a structured framework to ensure that projects are delivered on time, within budget, and to the required quality standards.

Based on this structured framework there are many types of project management methodologies. But wait, to be honest in the beginning of software development, there are no such specific methodologies listed. The usual and common way used and followed by many was later named “Waterfall methodologies” in 1970, in a book titled Managing the Development of Large Software Systems by Winston W. Royce.

So, that’s when I thought of researching why project management is important for startup success. There must be some reasons and more space for improvement, which is why more project management methodologies are emerging. So, This made me more curious about the benefits of project management in different industries.

Take a look at the following video where the presenter explains why project management methodologies for startups is crucial.

Why Project Management Matters for Startups?

There was an event in my city organised by an organization called DigitAll. The chief guest was Sridhar Vembu, founder of Zoho Corporation. I didn’t wanna miss the event because of Sridhar. Apart from simplicity of Sridhar Vembu, I was very inspired by the way the Zoho corporation keeps evolving.

In his speech, he mentioned that he had been reading almost all the books on Singapore’s Development History and also highlighted how Japanese technologies were the top brand in any selected industry. That’s where he used the term “Project management” that Japanese companies followed.

I started exploring the benefits of project management and found a document online, A Comparative Approach of Japanese Project Management in Construction, Manufacturing and IT Industries which discusses about Japanese Project Management such as Kaikaku Project Management (KPM) used for construction, manufacturing, and IT industries.

Now, think about the top Japanese brands: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Canon, and Sony. Wait! You must be hitting on the same question I had: How do these Japanese brands rule the world? What is the secret behind their success?

And in that same event, Sridhar Vembu answered the question: “It’s their project management methodologies”.

List of Japanese Management Ideas

Let’s see how different project management methodologies helped these top brands.

Efficiency and Quality

Let’s quickly dive into the powerful concepts of Kaizen and Kanban. Kaizen is a Japanese term that means “change for the better” or “continuous improvement.” It’s a philosophy deeply embedded in Japanese business culture, focusing on the ongoing enhancement of processes, products, and services. The core idea is that small, incremental changes over time can lead to significant improvements.

Kanban, meaning “signboard” or “billboard” in Japanese, is a visual system for managing work as it progresses through a process. While it originated in manufacturing, it has been widely adopted across various industries, particularly in software development.

Let’s take these two methodologies Kaizen and Kanban as an example, these methodologies help to maximize efficiency, in waste reduction and continuous improvement.

The Toyota Production System (TPS), which follows Kaizen and Kanban, is renowned for its efficiency and focus on quality, contributing to Toyota’s global success. This focus has led to the production of high-quality products and services, enhancing the reputation of Japanese brands.

Customer-Centric Approach

This customer-centric approach ensures that products and services meet customer needs and expectations, fostering brand loyalty. You can achieve your goal by choosing the right project management methodologies where your project progress is more customer feedback-based.

The concept of “Ho-Ren-So” (report, inform, consult) promotes close communication and collaboration within teams and with customers. I recently found that Canon encourages customers to report any issues with their cameras or printers through various channels, including customer support hotlines and online forums. Doesn’t this align with the Ho-Ren-So concept?

Similarly, Agile project management is a well-suited methodology for incorporating the principles of Ho-Ren-So. We will discuss more about the agile in this blog.

Reliability and Timeliness

So, what would be the ultimate benefit of using a project management system?

I assure you, that you can increase your efficiency and productivity with effective project management success. This leads to successful project outcomes within the estimated time frame. It helps startups to manage tasks with limited resources of the development team, prioritize multiple project requirements, and allocate resources efficiently based on the requirement severity.

Understanding Project Management Methodologies

if you have come so far to this paragraph, you should have realised the importance of project management systems for your startup project. When I was looking for startup project management tips I was clueless about which one should I choose.

My startup idea had two phases. The first one is MVP with a solid engine framework to make sure the idea is doable. The second thing is, how to keep on managing projects moving forward with regular updates from customer feedback with effective resource management.

This made me explore more and then I realised that there are many project management software available for almost all the project management systems you choose. So leave the worries of how to manage multiple projects simultaneously, first let’s learn about the different effective project management methodologies.

If you’re a non-technical person starting a tech startup, check out my other blog titled “I Have an App Idea, Where Do I Start?” to learn about the challenges you might face and how to prepare yourself for success.

Different Types of Project Management Methodologies

Let’s start learning the traditional methodologies first so that you can understand the pros and cons of each methodology and how modern methodologies overcome these cons. But, as my startup idea was with two different phases I had to choose the traditional one. You can easily guess what methodologies I’ve chosen after understanding these traditional systems.

Before discussing different types of project management, to understand the use cases, let’s take a project requirement as an example.

Sample Project Requirement: The idea is to create a dating application for a particular group of audiences belonging to a community or religion. There should be a matching algorithm based on the metrics that are related to the religious aspects, and the character and attitude expectations of the opposite gender. The profile listing should have a matching meter in percentage based on the number of criteria matched by the algorithm. Let’s see if the project could be executed using other methodologies.

Waterfall Methodologies

As mentioned above, the old methods of all the project management are called waterfall methodologies. Because they begin with the planning in the order of project use case execution. In this methodology, the project manager usually designs the tasks from beginning to end. Whereas, in our project requirement case, it starts with registration, login, profile management and matching process.

The great advantage of the waterfall methodology is, that it is simple and straight. It can perfectly work for a small team collaboration where they execute dependent tasks one by one. Most of the team works on one task at a time, so they can speed up better.

But the disadvantage is, that if there is any technical challenge in the execution, the entire development process has to be stopped until you find a solution.

Waterfall Development Methology

Critical Path Method (CPM)

If there is project management for startups where their idea is solving a unique problem and the rest of the enhancements are evolved around the core solution, then it is the Critical Path Method.

This methodology focuses primarily on the critical solutions that your project is going to provide for the customers. This should be almost similar to the minimum viable product and yet most of the MVP software development process are adopting this critical path method.

For, this let’s forget the sample project requirement given above. This is because I could find no better sample than my own, sass product Serpple. Serpple being an SEO tool, my startup requirement mainly depended on building an engine to crawl Google results. And, this made me opt for this Critical Path Method. We developed the crawler engine as MVP using this critical path and the rest of the features were integrated from the core features.

The main advantage of using CPM is, confidence about the startup ideas as the project requirements and priorities are clear based on the critical path. The only disadvantage I found in CPM is, it is time-consuming. For me, it took almost 15 months to complete the crawler engine with limited resources. The next challenge will be integrating the other features around the core feature needs some additional time too.

But for me, it was fine to go with this. Look at my SaaS idea and how it thrived.

Critical Path Method

Critical Chain Project Management (CCPM)

This CCPM is an advancement of CPM where resource management is highly focused. The roadmap and development process all are the same as CPM and in addition to that, with this CCPM in my Saas idea, I had a resource pool to manage the availability of the complete resources.

This solved the problem of resource management. Yet, I like to highlight that time buffers may occur whenever there is a skip or delay in the deadline to slow down the progress.


The name derived from the expansion “Projects in a Controlled Environments”. This is one of the finest methodologies that support the card system. Here they use a structured project board for all the
high-level tasks like what we call core features in CPM.

PRINCE2 also encourages the project managers to handle the day-to-day activities in the project development. So, this board system and daily scrum meetings we will be further discussing under the Agile project management methodology.

This project management system be adopted for any type of business model and the only disadvantage is deep-level documentation of the entire project management process.

That’s all about the traditional project management methodologies.

It’s time to learn more about the modern methodologies that overcome the challenges of traditional methodologies. As I mentioned earlier, they didn’t even have a name for project management systems in the late 1960s. Then, how does this project management system become more vital and viral? Who documented Agile project management? Where it was used? How did they find it? Let’s look into the answer to these questions.

Agile Project Management Methodology

As you have seen, aren’t the traditional methodologies are more process-oriented? In 2001 there was a group of software developers documented their unique challenges in the traditional methods and planned to design a new project management system for startups that was focused on maximizing efficiency, cost-effectiveness and productivity. They wanted to design a new project management system that gave importance to flexibility and collaboration. It must also be better suited for the fast-paced world of software development. This led to the creation of the Agile Manifesto. Though Agile is often associated with startups, its principles can be applied to various project types to improve efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and productivity.

The list of problems they found:

  1. Traditional methodologies focus more on the process and tools and this group wanted to change it to prioritizing the individuals and interactions.
  2. Traditional methods focus more on documentation and they found most of the time is spent on the documentation process. So, these people preferred working on the software more than documentation.
  3. Traditional methods were not convenient for the customers where they could not collaborate with the team members and nothing could be changed once the contract was signed. This group of developers want to focus more on customer collaboration.
  4. They needed proper project management which should be responding to change by following a standard plan designed at the beginning of the projects.

Initially, agile project management systems were found to address the problems listed above. They designed the characteristics of agile project management based on the core problems they had with the traditional methodologies.

Agile Methodologies

Key Characteristics of Agile Project Management:

  1. They want the new system to break down the entire project into smaller chunks of work. They believed that iterative development would be the most useful one for a startup environment. So that the project manager can do frequent deliveries which helped them to inspect and adapt to change based on the feedback.
  2. The entire development team collaboration goes along with the customer. These new agile methodologies they found support customer collaboration in project planning, track progress and help them identify risks at the development stage itself.
  3. This new agile framework they designed was open to change and readily adapt their project plans based on new information or evolving requirements from the customers or their users.
  4. Also the team that adopts Agile should be empowered to make decisions and take ownership of their work as it’s a daily progress tracking. This allows continuous improvement where the team reflect on their processes and seeks ways to continuously improve their performance.

How to Use Agile Project Management:

To understand Agile Project Management Agile project management far better it’s important to consider the sample project requirement of the dating app mentioned above. So, to begin with, consider the following important things Project vision, product backlogs and spring planning. The project vision is to make sure the entire team understand the dating project’s overall goals, objectives and desired outcomes.

Product backlog means, the list of highly prioritised features of the dating app project like bug fixes, adding more captivating features, and other tasks that lead to project developments. Apart from these, there is another popular way to gather information and requirements and that is using user stories. The user stories generally consist of the problem statements of target users. And, thus this product backlog is flexible, and it evolves as the project progresses.

Sprints are time-boxed iterations on which the development team works to complete a set of backlog items. The most recommended development duration for each sprint should be between 1 and 4 weeks. The collection of completed sprints fulfils one product backlog and the collection-completed backlog decides the project completion.

Sprint execution is the development process of the dating app project and here it comprises other processes, like Daily Sprint Standup Meetings, Sprint Reviews and Sprint Retrospective. Regular meetings will be handled by the project managers who discuss the statuses of everyday sprints. The sprint review happens at the end of sprint execution. Based on the customer feedback, the retrospective parameters are measured and then they finalise if the sprint is successful or not.

Refer the following image to understand if we execute our sample project in Agile.

Agile Development Plan

Benefits of Agile Project Management:

  1. Agile project management gives more flexibility to the project managers and customers. Agile methodologies respond better to the changes and uncertainties in the business objectives even after careful planning.
  2. Agile framework is most recommended for complex projects. The project deliverables are frequent and it makes faster time for go-to-market. The important tasks are converted to sprints and the executions go smoother from the early stages.
  3. Agile project management practices increase the quality of deliverables by encouraging frequent feedback and testing.
  4. Customer satisfaction is highly possible as they closely work with the project team and share their needs and feedback frequently.
  5. It also increases the morale and collaboration team working on multiple projects.

Other Methodologies Based on Agile

Various modern project management methodologies have emerged based on the agile method, each with its strengths. Let’s discuss them here. Most of the new methodologies stay true to the core factors of agile and these frameworks can add specific practices to suit different project needs leading to the startup project management’s success.

Being a startup project manager or founder, to make sure your project objectives are achieved efficiently and within the project timelines, it is recommended to adopt effective project management strategies especially if you are a tech startup.

Scrum Methodologies

Scrum has become one of the popular model methodologies that is widely adopted in the software industry. My other business idea is to develop a scrum-based tool for managing a digital marketing team. I have named it as SEOScrum.

Similar to agile, a scrum master will play a major role here in the team collaboration. They arrange regular team meetings with specially designed scrum boards to discuss about the statuses, obstacles and everything in the sprint execution. Scrum helps development to keep the project goals in line with the development process and avoids poor resource planning.

Scrum is more advisable for rapid development as the deliverables are mostly on time. The only pain point is daily standup meetings which may extend sometimes.

Scrum Methodologies

Kanban Methodologies

As I was explaining how Japanese company gives high priorities to project management, this Kanban methodology was developed by Taiichi Ohno, an industrial engineer at Toyota, in the 1940s. He created it as a visual system to manage inventory and production flow in Toyota’s factories.

The same visual system is widely adopted in agile project management. This visual system shows all the available resources and allows managers to add and manage tasks, and deadlines and evenly distribute the workload. This system majorly focuses on resource management along with other agile aspects.

kanban methodologies

The advantage of Kanban boards is, that they eagle view observations of project management from the beginning to project completion. The only disadvantage is unpredictable dates and resource availability may cause delays in the deadlines.

Extreme Programming Methodology (XP)

If there is an agile methodology that has a strong emphasis on customer involvement and iterative development based on customer feedback, that is XP. It has all the agile features and gives high-level flexibility in sprint execution priorities. The customers play a major role in deciding which sprint should be the next one, as they are the ones prioritizing features and providing continuous feedback.

As you can see, the primary advantage is, customer friendly and its the disadvantage too. The development team may not track the completed sprint and retrospective updates as the priority keeps changing.

How to Find the Right Project Management Methodology for Your Startup?

Before choosing the right project management methodology, I can assure you that finding the right methodology can be painful but it’s easy to move on with the selected methodology throughout the project lifecycle by using a suitable startup project management tool for your project life cycle.

There are many software available now and you can choose one among the best project management software. I will come up with my next blog about the complete list of tools for different types of methodologies.

So, let’s leave the worries about how to execute, it’s time to choose the right methodology. For me, it was just feature-focused as I had my development team. So what are all the other factors influencing the selections?

Team Size

This is the first one I will mention. If your startup team size is not fit for the selected methodology, you will be mostly spending time on process rather than project deadlines. Also, the team structure is important. As I mentioned in Scrum, it needs a Scrum master. In my opinion, agile and scrum are most suitable for any team size. If you are team size is big, you can go for Kanban but in the case of very small teams, Kanban is not ideal due to its focus on continuous flow.

Project Complexity and Project Scope

Development duration and complexity are also key factors that you should consider when you choose the methodology and right project management software. As I mentioned before scrum would be the best choice for rapid development. If your project size is bigger and would like to move on with solid project planning and no flexibility, I would recommend a waterfall methodology.

Project Budget

Selecting good project management does not hurt your financial plan as well. For instance, if you choose PRINCE2, it costs more resources on document work. So, strongly evaluate the resource pool of your startup team and the complete development cost of your project. In case your project budget is too tight, you can choose Kanban or Lean methodologies. I will explain more about the lean methodologies later in a separate blog.

Common Project Management Challenges

It does not matter which robust project management system you choose for your startup project development. There are still some common challenges that need to be addressed well to make sure your methodologies work fine until the project is completed.

Limited Resources vs Changing Priorities

Most of the startups run with limited resources and they are closely working around the prioritized tasks toward the project timeline. Sometimes, there must be changes in the priorities especially when a startup is looking for initial funding or initial beta closed group invites. This is unavoidable, but make sure you have given enough space in the resource management.

Choosing agile would be the right choice in such cases where changes in priorities are inevitable.

Undefined Roles

Choosing any project management methodology needs a proper structure with appropriate members and their roles. So define the clear roles and responsibilities for each team member to avoid conflicts between them.

Lack of Experience

I understand startup has to rush things up on development for a quicker time to market. But when it comes to project management, spend quality time and invest money in learning the selected methodology and make sure your entire team is aware of the process and methodology.

In addition to these common challenges, I’ve written a blog about the “Top 15 Software Development Challenges for Startup.” Be sure to read it to gain insights into other potential hurdles you might face.

Essential Project Management Tools for Startups

As promised, I have listed down all the best project management tools available in almost all the methodologies. There are tools that combine all the agile methodologies such as Kanban boards and Scrum boards to help you analyse team members’ workloads, upcoming tasks, skill sets and project data to make sure your further planning goes smoother.

Tools for Different Project Management Methodologies

Waterfall Methodology Tools:

To be honest there is no specific tool that supports only waterfall methodology. Waterfall methodology can be easily tracked using a Google Excel sheet. As agile becomes the most popular one, some tools can be used for waterfall methodology.

BaseCamp (Paid) – They are claiming that they have designed the software specifically for small teams.
Asana (Free) – Asana is one of the popular tools that can be used for waterfall methodology.

Critical Path Method (CPM) Tools:

There are a few tools that support CPM.

ProjectManager: This supports other methodologies and it also includes a specific project management template for CPM methodology. It also supports CCPM.

PRINCE2 Tools:

There are no exclusive tools for PRINCE2, but Asana, Trello and Microsoft Project support PRINCE2.

Agile Tools:

I am sure you will find thousands of tools for Agile. My preferred one is Jira if you wanna strictly stick with the agile process. Almost all agile tools have scrum boards and Kanban visual representations for task management and resource allocation.

How AppKodes Helps Startups with Technical Guidelines

I founded AppKodes in 2008 and since then we have worked on many projects with tech stacks some of which are history now. Our team has been upgrading themselves for effective project management and customer satisfaction.

We never say NO to a project just because the tech stack is different. Our strong base is our wider knowledge of all the project management methodologies, project management software, and strategies we define for different projects based on customer requirements.

Starting our journey as a small team, we have become one of the most popular enterprise app development companies in the world now. AppKodes has become a great brand, especially labeled as one of the best startup app development company in india.

Additional Resource:

Founder of AppKodes. As a serial entrepreneur, I have successfully established five brands over the past 12 years. After creating a successful rank tracker for SEO agencies, I am currently dedicated to developing the world's first SEO Project Management software.



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