Imagine you need to create a feature-rich mobile app, a powerful web project, or a revenue-generating MVP. To do it the way you want, you'll likely need to hire a team of software developers with a wide range of technical and business competencies, as well as proven hands-on skills. There's a lot of work to be done.
Besides, how do you choose an effective software development team structure that can deliver the desired results? How do you know if coders are meeting software development metrics?
Below we have outlined the answers to these and other questions you may encounter. As a result, you can easily assemble a software development team with the right structure and technical experts to meet your needs.
Types Of Development Team Structures
Although the issue of creating an effective software development team structure is often taken for granted, it is still a vital one. Let's step back from the all-too-typical classification of development team structures, including hybrid, specialized, and generalist structures. Instead, let's look at the team structure issue from the other side.
Functional Team Structure
This type of team structure assumes that team members are divided into groups according to their skills or functions, e.g., developers, testers and designers. While this structure can provide deep expertise in solving specific problems, it can also lead to "silos". And as we know, in a "silo" environment, specific employees and even entire departments do not share resources (expertise, data, budget) with other departments. This can hinder the overall progress of the project.
DevOps Team Structure
DevOps is, we can say, a cutting-edge approach to the issue of software development team structure. The main focus here is on the interaction of development and operations teams.
Why is this necessary? To remove the barriers between these two roles and ensure a smooth software development lifecycle. The DevOps team structure usually includes specialists responsible for both development and operations, which ensures effective management of the entire development process.
Cross-functional Development Teams
These teams are an integral aspect of the Agile team structure. Cross-functional development teams consist of professionals with different backgrounds and skills that cover different aspects of the software development process. Cross-functional teams foster innovation, creativity, and faster problem-solving because they combine different skills such as coding, testing, design, and product management.
Agile Team Structure
Agile software development has become extremely popular in recent years due to its flexibility and adaptability. A typical Agile team consists of professionals with different skill sets such as developers, testers, designers, and product owners. Agile development team organization promotes collaboration, communication, and sharing of project responsibilities. Of all the Agile project management methodologies, Scrum and Kanban are the most commonly used as they shed more light on roles and responsibilities.
Each type of team structure has its pros and cons. And yet - which team structure should you choose? Which of these structures will be most effective in your product development process? There are several factors to consider when choosing one or another software development team structure. Let's talk about them below.
Choosing the Right Software Development Team Structure
In team sports, each player has a different task. While some players take a spot on defense and others go on offense, others help the attackers or defenders. Each player fulfills his or her role, contributing to the overall team performance. To build the right team structure, you need to be guided by certain principles.
Similar principles are true for software development. When it comes to having a well-functioning web development team structure, there are several factors to consider.
Factors Affecting Development Team Structure
Let's look at the key factors you can't do without and the questions you should ask if you need not just a development team, but a well-oiled, collaborative development team.
Product complexity: Is the project complex or simple?
A software development team's hierarchy and structure depend directly on the type of product being developed and its complexity. It may be a basic mobile application for public use, or it may be a special-purpose product involving advanced AI technologies. In the latter case, a whole group of subject-matter experts with extensive experience will need to be involved.
Budget: What is the budget for the project?
Often, budget becomes the cornerstone when creating custom software. How much money you allocate to product development will determine which specialists and how many will join the software development team. The more experienced and skilled the engineers working on your product, the more expensive their services are.
However, there is a way to reduce costs without sacrificing product quality. Its name is Agile software development team structure. The Agile approach makes the development process manageable and flexible, as well as allows you to use the budget efficiently.
Timeline: How quickly do you need a ready-to-use product?
If you want to get a finished product in the shortest possible time while building a software solution from scratch, you need more than just a development team. This team should consist of experienced Senior-level engineers, as well as a business analyst and project manager with relevant expertise and extensive experience in the field.
Teamwork: How does the team work together?
To control the software development workflow and manage the team effectively, you will need a project manager or product manager. You also need to apply a suitable project management approach. This is often the Agile project management methodology. Note: Your team members should be proficient in it.
However, it is also useful for you as a customer to have a basic grasp of marketing, design, business, project management, etc. With this knowledge, it will be easier for you to understand where the team stands and what is happening to the product.
Is an Agile Software Development Team Right for Your Business?
Agile seems like a one-size-fits-all solution, but it's not. Before moving on to the distribution of Agile roles in software development teams, you need to find out if this methodology is right for you.
So, how do you know if Agile is right for you?
According to Agile principles, the development team is primarily focused on meeting customer requirements. If interaction with the development team is crucial for you too, then an Agile team structure may be the best option in this case.
Dynamics Is a Priority
According to Agile, team dynamics in software development is a key factor. An Agile software development team is right for you if you are operating in a field where market requirements and user expectations are ever-changing.
A Culture of Trust is valued
An Agile team structure can align with your organizational values if you value a culture of collaboration, trust, shared responsibility, and resource sharing (knowledge, experience, etc.). Conversely, by applying the Agile methodology, you foster close teamwork and transparent communication.
If a rigid hierarchy is not your thing and if you are open to new things, including new ways of working, new ways of thinking, and empowering your software development team, then Agile will fit perfectly into your business ecosystem.
Iterative Software Development
The Agile methodology is based on iterative software delivery with continuous feedback. This means that you can get an intermediate version of the product without waiting for the end of the development process. If this suits you, then an Agile development team organization may be the way to go.
The Nature of Your Project
Agile is a good choice if your project is complex and involves a lot of changes. Agile makes it easier to cope with change and to effectively manage your team's work under conditions of complexity.
Agile Software Development Team: Roles and Responsibilities
Having an Agile software development team structure is of utmost importance. Within an Agile team, each member is a key contributor to the result. Let's take a closer look at the Agile team structure and key roles so you can see where to start and who to hire.
So, who is on the team?
The Product Owner's job is to customize the workflow to meet the business goals. This is the person who defines the project goals, makes a list of tasks, prioritizes tasks, and monitors the workflow to ensure that it meets the initial vision of the end product.
This is another key member of the team. He or she is in charge of applying the Agile methodology to the team and making sure that there are no problems with its use, troubleshooting problems if they arise, and conducting daily teamwork meetings. Overall, the Scrum master's job is to make sure that the team is working according to the Agile methodology and this contributes to effective work.
Let's face it: developers are the key players on the team because if there are no developers, there is no product. The responsibilities of software developers are to create high-quality, functional code that meets the goals of the project. Ultimately, it is thanks to the work of developers that the team can deliver a ready-to-use product to the customer and end users.
Quality assurance is a vital aspect of any software project. You cannot get a quality product unless you hire quality assurance engineers. Moreover, testing of the product takes place not only at the end of the development process but also at every intermediate stage.
Designers use their domain expertise to develop the visual elements of software to make it user-friendly. Not only beauty matters but also the psychological side of the interface.
In an Agile team structure, DevOps engineers are responsible for automation, continuous integration, and deployment. These engineers, working closely with developers, ensure the smooth delivery of software.
The Business Analyst on your team will translate business requirements into actionable tasks for developers, designers, DevOps, and other team members. Without the preliminary work that a business analyst does, there is no point in starting product development. That's why this specialist is indispensable.
A Solution Architect works closely with developers. His or her job is to design the architecture of the future system and ensure that it meets system requirements as well as business needs. This role in the team is not mandatory, but it is very useful for the overall success of the project.
While we have described the basic roles of an Agile development team, the list of roles and their responsibilities can expand or narrow depending on the scope of the project. For example, if the business area is complex and requires specific expertise (medicine, finance, insurance), it makes sense to hire niche experts. In any case, Agile allows you to flexibly approach the structure of your development team and modify it when it’s needed.
How to Structure a Software Development Team: Key Insights
Here are some key aspects to keep in mind when building the structure of a software development team.
Define and Get Documented Team Roles in Software Development
Structuring a software development team is all about clearly defining roles and responsibilities and then documenting them. Each team member must be aware of their specific function in the software development process before they even start working together.
Ensure You Have a Cross-Functional Development Team
Ensure that your team members have a variety of skills and experience. This will contribute to the holistic development of the project and help avoid knowledge gaps.
Ensure Smooth Collaboration in the Software Development Team
Communication is a vital tool for your team, so it pays to ensure open and transparent communication channels. This could be daily video calls for demo sessions, quick feedback during meetings, quick resolution of urgent issues in general chat, etc.
Put the Agile Development Team Organization First
To keep everyone on the same page, be sure to use key performance indicators (KPIs) and change-focused Agile principles. To do this, leverage the experience and expertise of people with a relevant track record.
Set Up a Well-Defined Software Development Team Hierarchy
Having a clearly defined hierarchy within the team will lead to transparent and streamlined decision-making processes and ensure clear and timely accountability.
Identify the Software Development Lifecycle
Clearly define the stages of the software development lifecycle. Ensure each team member understands his or her role at each stage, from design and coding to testing and deployment.
Monitor Team Dynamics
Team dynamics involves resolving conflicts quickly, providing support and training when needed, and encouraging the professional growth of team members.
Be Open to Change
Software development is an iterative process involving constant change and the need to adapt. Fostering a culture of continuous improvement and willingness to change is beneficial in the long run.
Why Is Setting Up the Right Team Structure Important to the Success of Your Project?
At the beginning of the software development process, it may seem like a large project team is something you don't need. However, niche specialists are not something you should skimp on.
If, for example, you don't hire a business analyst or someone who knows the ins and outs of the industry you're interested in, your web or mobile app may work well but not meet the requirements of that industry. Chances are, it is not what you were looking for.
That's why it's important to hire the right experts from the start so that your software development team composition can handle any challenges as the project develops.
Let's take a closer look at what comes from having an effective team structure:
- Skill diversity. A well-structured team is usually made up of people with a variety of skills, which means a more holistic approach to problem-solving.
- Delivering the required outcomes. With the right team structure, you have all the necessary skills and experience at your disposal, which means that the team can effectively meet the challenges and achieve the right results.
- The development process is flexible and adaptive. The Agile project management approach is flexible and allows for quick adjustments in response to customer feedback or market shifts. An effective team structure supports this adaptability, allowing the team to reorganize as needed to deliver more meaningful results.
- Effective teamwork. Due to the structure and roles within an Agile team, there is a strong emphasis on teamwork, daily meetings, and constant communication. Information sharing facilitates better decision-making and problem-solving.
- Quality Assurance. The development team structure should be diverse so that thorough testing and validation processes can be integrated into the software development lifecycle. The result is a product with fewer defects and a better end-user experience.
- Risk mitigation. A team that is well-versed in risk assessment and mitigation techniques can deal with potential problems in advance and minimize the likelihood of project failure and disruption.
Characteristics Of an Effective Software Development Team Structure
As you have probably already seen, project results are influenced by the project team structure and the diversity of skills and experience of the hired professionals. However, how do you know that the team is moving in the right direction and that you will get the expected results at the right time?
Below we have described the characteristics of an effective development team structure. Using them, you can figure out whether the team is working well or not.
Here are some key characteristics of an effective software development team structure:
- Each team member knows what they have to do and what their responsibilities are. Clearly defining roles prevents confusion and duplication of duties, ensuring that everyone knows what is expected of them.
- Team members have a clear understanding of the project's purpose, customer expectations, and the result they are all striving for.
- Your team includes developers, QA engineers, designers, and business analysts, as well as other subject-matter niche specialists to solve specific problems.
- You are dealing with an Agile team structure as your team members have daily meetings and interact closely in the work process.
- The software development process follows a specific project management methodology.
- The software development workflow allows for changes or modifications to the requirements.
- Software team hierarchy encourages team members to feel comfortable sharing ideas and meaningful feedback.
Steps to Take to Build a Successful Software Development Team
You can argue long and hard about how to properly define an effective team structure. Or you can go the other way and focus on these few steps to building an effective software development team:
- Step 1: Define the project requirements and objectives. First of all, define the project objectives, problems to be solved, scope of tasks, time frame, and budget constraints of the project.
- Step 2: Focus on team roles and skills of the people involved. At this stage, it is necessary to define the roles in the team and the skills that developers, testers, designers, and other members of the upcoming team should possess.
- Step 3: Find the talent you are lacking. Hire the people you need through job postings, referrals, and your contractor's recruiting services.
- Step 4: Identify team leaders, such as Scrum Masters or Product Owners, and then establish a clear team development hierarchy.
- Step 5: Clear communication and seamless collaboration. Maintain open communication, hold regular team meetings, and provide communication channels that team members can use with ease.
Building an Agile Team Structure: DDI Development Approaches
You are probably wondering how we at DDI Development approach building an effective team structure, given our extensive experience. Undoubtedly, we prioritize the goals and objectives of our clients, and the Agile project management methodology allows us to successfully address them.
Our approach to building a team structure that brings the right results to our clients can be described as follows.
We Find Out What's the Idea Behind the Product
At this stage we collect information about the project, analyze it, and plan further actions. For this purpose, we conduct detailed negotiations with the customer and stakeholders and clarify the essence of the project, its goals, and problems to be solved.
Assemble a Software Development Team
The next step is to define the structure of the software development team and select specialists with relevant experience and knowledge. To make the Agile team more cohesive, we select specialists capable of working together and encourage joint search for solutions during the product development process.
Focus on Agile Development Team Organization
Since Agile is at its core about communication, collaboration, and iterations, we encourage team-customer collaboration.
Let's consider how it looks in practice:
- Engineers and other technicians are engaged in only one project, which keeps them from losing their motivation and efficiency. The team has leeway, even though it is led by a project manager. We don't like restrictions, so we do our best to remove any roadblocks to effective teamwork.
- Team members, regardless of their specialization and role in the team, can participate in the discussion of tasks beyond their responsibilities. This encourages creative ideas and out-of-the-box thinking.
- We are ready to take on projects of any complexity, as Agile makes us flexible and adaptable to the tasks at hand.
Want to learn more about how we solve customer challenges using an Agile software development team structure? If so, email us and we will make it clear to you as per your request.
As you have already realized, it's not enough to find an IT company to outsource your project. You also need to decide what kind of team structure you prefer for your project. Whether it will be a large development team or a small one depends on several factors. These include budget, offshore developer rates, the complexity of the future product, the type of software, and, of course, the goals and objectives to be achieved.
The competencies of the developers also affect the final team composition. However, there is a chance that you may not need developers at the initial stage. For example, if you need to go through the discovery phase, it is better to go for business analysts only.
As it turns out, the development team structure is not an afterthought. Therefore, before resorting to IT outsourcing services, you should think about who you need on your project team and why.
The DDI development team is ready to help you with these and other issues. Email or call us to get started on the path to achieving the results you need.