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Software Development Team Structure

Software Development Team Structure: Best Practices to Structure Teams Effectively

Software development team structure plays a huge role in a project’s success. A team is responsible for giving the right direction to the project. Other factors like the developers’ expertise and skills are also equally important. Yet, proper management and structure of the team allow profiting and also make the entire development process easier and faster.

If you have lots of queries concerning how to structure a software development team, you’ve landed at the right place. In this article, we’ll talk about how software development teams structure their work, the roles, and responsibilities of each member of the development team, best practices, and the tips for building an agile team structure.

Importance of setting the right development team structure

Your product’s success depends on people. Even while the absence of some specialists may seem natural during the development phase, it may have an impact in the end.

For instance, if you hire a high-end designer but your team lacks UX knowledge, the result will be a wonderful app with excellent graphics and animations, but no one will want to use it. Simply because they will be perplexed or disoriented inside of it. If such a specialist is not on the team, you will receive expertly built software with unmatched functionality, but it will fall short of meeting the needs of consumers. Thus, the correct structure of the software development team is essential. In this scenario, you need to get expert UI/UX designers on your team.

3 common approaches to product team structure

Let’s begin with the basics. There are three common software development team structures that you may leverage. Let’s look at the characteristic of each of the methods:

Generalist team structure

A generalist team is made up of experts with a broad range of knowledge and expertise. Each team member has some background in a variety of product development areas, but none of them has substantial knowledge in any one area. Most outsourcing companies adopt this team structure.

Pros

  • Every team member knows about the product as a whole
  • Each member is competent enough to complete the assigned task independently

Cons

  • No expertise in a particular niche

Specialist team structure

A specialist product team structure entails specialists with incredibly specialized skill sets who are adept at managing specific tasks. Everyone is an expert in their field and is solely accountable for their portion of the project. It is also a fairly common type of method used by software development companies.

Pros

  • They have deep knowledge of every project element
  • Ability to build high-quality and detail-oriented systems quickly

Cons

  • Communication gaps due to the absence of general knowledge
  • High dependency between team members

Hybrid team structure

As the name suggests, a hybrid software team structure is a combination of both generalists and specialists. These teams work on a project as a whole yet have the flexibility to focus more narrowly as needed. By far, the hybrid strategy offers the best of both worlds.

Pros

  • Well-balanced team composition
  • Effective development process

Cons

  • Expensive and time-consuming
  • Difficult coordination between people with different approaches

Typical software development team structure by role

Typical software development team structure by role

Ideally, every organization would have specialists and generalists who could work together seamlessly. Yet, this is not the case. Every business faces challenges, are time-bound and has a limited budget. That’s why most software development project teams opt for a generalist structure.

So, when building a software development team, who exactly does it comprise of by roles?

Client:

The owner of the idea. They are responsible for sharing the insights as well as for clarifying the what’s and why’s. Besides, they also collaborate with technical experts throughout the process.

Business Analyst (BA):

The one in charge of setting goals, analyzing, and filling the vital processes and functions. In short, they establish the direction of the business and assess what works and what does not.

Project Manager (PM):

This individual coordinate project planning and execution and ensures all operations are running actively and aligned with the project timeline. A PM manages relationships between stakeholders and also assigns tasks.

UI/UX Designer:

This is someone who designs how users interact with the product. Their primary duties are usability and functionality. They ensure the features solve the user’s problems and address their business goals.

Developers (Front-end/Back-end):

They are in charge of doing the actual coding. Back-end developers focus on the functionality, the product’s invisible component. Whereas, front-end developers work on the parts that are visible to the user.

Quality Assurance Engineer (QA):

A QA engineer tests the product to ensure its functionality. In other words, they are the final editors who have a keen eye for details and detect bugs/errors on time so that the team can fix them quickly.

How is the agile software development team structure different?

An agile software development team has a few extra job roles than the traditional software teams. Let’s take a look at the Agile Manifesto:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Working software over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over sticking to a plan

The core difference between both teams is how they interact with each other. Let’s explore the other differences between the two teams.

Traditional team vs. Agile team

Traditional team

Agile team

Top-down project management. The project manager is responsible for getting things done. Self-organized and self-managed team. PM’s role is to coach the team, remove obstacles, and prevent distractions.
Teams may work on several projects simultaneously. Teams focus on one project at a time.
An organization evaluates individual performance. An organization evaluates team performance.
Distinct roles and job titles. Cross-functional teams and skills matter more than titles.
No team size limits. Three to nine people per team.
Employees are referred to as human resources. Employees are referred to as talents.

 

Roles and responsibilities in the agile software development team

agile software development team

Here are some roles and responsibilities in the agile software development project teams’ structure.

Product Owner (PO):

A product owner is a key stakeholder in the project who has extensive user and product knowledge. Typically, they’re responsible for the internal aspects of the development. In short, a PO keeps eye on the team, coordinates their work, and makes sure the product is market-ready.

Scrum Master:

A scrum is a methodology that lets agile teams self-organize and adapt to the agile software development principles. Whereas, a scrum master is someone responsible for coordinating the team’s work.

Development team:

This is an in-house dedicated software development team who works on the project together. Similar to a traditional team, it includes front and back-end developers, UX designers as well as QA engineers. All of them collaborate to deliver the final product.

Building agile team structure: 4 best practices

Effective software development project teams are the ones that produce high-quality products on time. Let’s investigate the main elements that serve as the foundation for its effectiveness.

#1 Learn the client’s needs

From the start, do thorough research to understand what the clients need in particular. To put together a team that might handle these obstacles, find out what challenges they are experiencing. The foundation of team structuring is the individual approach.

#2 Assemble a team of collaborative people

A good team structure requires the presence of people and their interpersonal connections. With this in consideration, attempt to assemble individuals who have had experience working together or who will undoubtedly get along well in their cooperation.

An agile team usually consists of:

  • Product Manager
  • Front-end/Back-end developers
  • UX designers
  • Quality assurance engineers (QA)

Having stated that, urge the entire crew to collaborate on a single project and encourage open discussions.

#3 Stick to the relevant team structure

We’ve already mentioned the three types of development team structures above. Each of them can be effective for one project while being ineffective for others. You must choose the right team structure that supports your operations and collaboration if you want to avoid delays and project dysfunctionality.

#4 Pick each professional thoroughly

Before picking professionals, assess how well they fit into your project. In other words, choose the one who suits the project better. For instance, if it’s a risky idea, look for the one ready to take the risks. If you require a highly qualified individual for a complex project, look for the one with relevant experience in that particular domain.

Effective tips for building a software development team structure

Selecting a team for the development of software requires a different approach and steps each time. It is one of the greatest challenges a company faces to ensure its team performs to the best of their abilities. Pretty much everyone can find skilled resources, however, not every organization manages to create a collaborative environment for their teams to thrive.

To tackle this for you, here are effective software development team structure tips that every top software development company utilizes to structure their teams.

Stay flexible

Staying flexible is the first step toward an effective software team structure. Be adaptive to change and treat your employees as humans, not resources. Make sure to address each problem as it occurs and deliver an individual solution for it.

Empower team ownership

Controlling the team, a little too much sucks the creativity out of them. And, that’s the last thing a software company would want. Let your team own the project. When you empower your team, they’ll become more effective, and innovative, and be able to choose the perfect tech stack. The simple rule is—to eliminate hero worship.

Mind interpersonal skills

No two people are alike. Every person has a different communication style and behavior that may or may not match yours. Keeping that in mind, you should gather all inputs as well as information about a candidate’s strong and weak points and discuss how to make them comfortable working with other people.

Communicate the goals well

Regardless of the field, communication is always the core of teamwork, and software development is no exception. Keep them aware of the goals, needs, and challenges that come along the way. Your teammates should feel that they are a part of something important and that their work has value.

Make the workspace friendly

Last but not the least, make the workspace environment productive and friendly so that everyone feels relaxed and welcoming. Make sure everybody has a voice and all their issues are addressed. Focus on building a strong work culture and professional bonds.

The last words

Simply having an idea isn’t just enough. You need to hire the right people to implement the idea successfully. And this starts with structuring the software development team. Who will be on your team depends on plenty of factors including the complexity, budget, deadlines, and more. On the flip side, you can also avail custom web development services from experts.

At Codment—the best application development company in the USA, we always make sure to structure a team that matches your business goals and needs.

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