Technical Reports (CIS)

Document Type

Technical Report

Date of this Version



University of Pennsylvania Department of Computer and Information Science Technical Report No. MS-CIS-13-01.


Recently, Agile development processes have become popular in the software development community, and have been shown to be effective in large organizations. However, given that the communication and cooperation dynamics in startup companies are very different from that of larger, more established companies, and the fact that the initial focus of a startup might be significantly different from its ultimate goal, it is questionable whether a rigid process model that works for larger companies is appropriate in tackling the problems faced by a startup. When we scale down even further and observe the small scale startup with only a few members, many of the same problems that Agile methodology sets out to solve do not even exist. Then, for a small scale startup, is it still worth putting the resources into establishing a process model? Do the benefits of adopting an Agile methodology outweigh the opportunity cost of spending the resources elsewhere? This paper examines the advantages and disadvantages of adopting an Agile methodology in a small scale tech startup and compares it to other process models, such as the Waterfall model and Lean Startup. In determining whether a rigorous agile methodology is the best development strategy for small scale tech startups, we consider the metrics of cost, time, quality, and scope in light of the particular needs of small startup organizations, and present a case study of a company that has needed to answer this very question.


Agile methodology, Lean Startup, small scale tech startup.



Date Posted: 13 February 2013