The success of a project is determined by the people who work on it. And this is especially true in the IT industry. Surely, the ultimate “success” of the project is interpreted by managers and developers in slightly different ways. It may mean the popularity of the end product among users, performance, or accumulated sales.
To get things done, you need a strong project core with a unique ecosystem. At the same time, teams can differ in methods and styles of work, corporate structure, and relationships between departments.
Team members can also represent a wide variety of specialties and levels of training. It is important to establish a well-coordinated mechanism aimed at overcoming the set bar. To unite a group of people from different professions into an efficient team, at least two major things must be defined:
- Team type and structure;
- Team size and composition.
Common Types of Devs Teams
Establishing a clear structure is an important step towards overall success, but you first have to choose one of three main team types:
- All-rounders – jacks of all trades have a wide range of knowledge and experience. As a rule, their involvement is optimal for complex projects. The advantage of wide-profile experts is that they can provide an all-around solution to a problem. They have their own downsides, however. If a project requires a higher level of knowledge in a narrow field, generalists may lack skills.
- Profiled specialists – such team members are highly qualified in a specific field. They can handle particular tasks. On the other hand, communication is not their greatest strength. Often, they don’t have a common understanding of the roles of other team members, and this somewhat reduces the effectiveness of teamwork.
- A hybrid team – the best of two worlds. Narrow-field specialists are focused on functional tasks while generalists are responsible for communication and collaboration within the team. However, this is a perfect “dream team”, which is not always easy to gather and compensate.
To achieve the best results, you have to find a certain balance. It’s crucial to establish the optimal size of the team. All the so-called magic numbers play no role here. On the one hand, it is easier to manage and adjust communication within a small group of employees.
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On the other hand, the loss of one key member for the project can stall all work. Therefore, it is important to correctly distribute the roles of members and keep in mind that some people may have to substitute others. The more efficiently the structure is arranged, the more chances for successful project implementation there are.
How to Structure a Software Development Team?
The organizational structure affects software development in much the same way as developer knowledge and experience. Essentially, the concept of team building can be divided into two tasks:
- Definition of the team size;
- Distribution of roles and responsibilities.
It might seem that the bigger the team, the better. It depends. Surely, time-to-release will be much shorter if there are twice as many developers on the team. But they will be twice as difficult to manage. As practice shows, the optimal size of the project team is 5-7 people. According to the QSM research, small teams are often more effective because they:
- Don’t face (or seldom come across) organizational issues;
- Are quite dynamic and easy to structure;
- Are able to work more independently;
- Are more communication- and coordination-savvy.
You can use the “two-pizza rule”: if you can’t feed the whole group with two pizzas, it’s too big. But what if the tasks still require a bigger team? You can always divide a large team into several smaller ones, that is, resort to restructuring.
Of course, this will lead to the need for additional management, but there is no other way out because someone has to coordinate the work. Someone has to present the result to the marketing department and the owner of the company. In any case, the share of managers in the team should be minimal.
The following composition is the most optimal:
- a UI/UX designer;
- 1-2 frontend developers;
- 1-2 backend developers;
- a QA specialist;
- a project manager.
Of course, depending on the tasks involved, different variations are possible. A well-organized software development team also boasts a streamlined workflow. This means that each team member must be well aware of their responsibilities and scope of work.
What are the main roles in software development?
Your goal is to create a squad that will work as one. To do this, you need to correctly distribute tasks and roles of participants from the business and technical perspectives:
- Project Manager – general management and leadership of the entire team, streamlining workflow, ensuring product compliance, and setting goals.
- Team Lead – someone from among the developers should lead the work within the group. Often acts as a coach. It is better to appoint a leader in each subgroup. If the structure is not too extensive, it is quite normal to have only one person in this position.
- Chief Architect – if there are several development teams at hand, you will need a person who coordinates activities, builds consensus on architecture, designs and monitors compliance with the general concept. This is usually a highly-skilled developer who thinks through all aspects of the project and is responsible for the choice of design and technical standards (for instance, defines the technological stack).
- Developers or Software Engineers – team members who apply their knowledge of engineering and programming languages to software development and ensure that the product is accessible and enjoyable to use.
- QA Specialist or Tester – responsible for quality assurance and makes sure the product is ready to be introduced to the market.
- Business Analyst – finds ways to improve a product, engages with stakeholders to understand their concerns and needs, and then documents and analyzes everything to offer a proper solution.
- Product Owner – his/her main function is to make sure that the right product is being created. Responsible for prioritizing tasks in the backlog and scheduling work for several months in advance. This person serves as the link between the team, stakeholders, and users.
There are many other software development team roles that can help improve your team, but that’s a whole other topic.
Feel free to switch developers between organizational parts of your team if you see that some specialists can be more useful in other groups. It may even be better to do this regularly for preventive purposes.
Try to resolve any conflicts within the team as quickly as possible, and encourage cooperation and a spirit of partnership. Developers should also be free to develop ideas from their colleagues.
On top of that, psychological compatibility can mean a lot to a project. Maintain a healthy organizational climate, for instance, place developers in the same office. A strong team is one where the weaknesses of one member overlap with the strengths of another.
Gathering the Most Optimal Team
The composition and structure of the software development team depend on specific tasks. Things become difficult when the tasks change dynamically from project to project. That’s why outsourcing is such a big thing in the modern IT market.
Experts at Gravum can help you utterly optimize your software development workflow, offering individual solutions that meet the needs of modern business. Get individually gathered specialized development teams. Check the company’s progress on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Gravum is all about the innovational, personalized approach to your project.