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5 steps to building an effective software development team
Mastering the art of assembling a successful software development team.
When kicking off a new software development project, we naturally intend for it to succeed. But to be one, you have to rely on a solid core — your software development team. While it is undeniable that all groups are different regarding their work style and the unique ecosystem within, it has some pretty common elements.
We all expect our successful development team to consist of highly experienced and skilled individuals. But is it the only prerequisite? And, in general, how to build an effective software development team? To make a group of professionals a genuinely effective software development team, you need to remember some elements to consider.
Define the kind of development team type that fits your project
First things first, before we dive deeper into what to pay attention to when building a development team, you need to decide on the kind of software developers team you want to create. Establishing a clear software development team structure is an essential first step toward the overall success of your project.
Here you have to choose from the three main types:
These are Jacks of all trades. Generalists possess a broad range of knowledge, soft skills, and expertise. Generally, these types of teams are designed to handle end-to-end solutions. The advantage of generalists is that they can provide a complete solution to the problem. However, they also have some drawbacks — if your project requires a higher level of expertise in some area, generalists will find themselves at a loss as they may lack the knowledge and skills.
Unlike generalists, this development team comprises highly skilled members in a particular field. The advantage of specialists is clear — they can address a specific matter with all their knowledge and expertise, resulting in more efficient and effective work. On the other hand, communication is not exactly a forte of this type of software development team. Often being a very narrow specialist, team members may lack a general understanding of the roles of other team members, thus making communication between them somewhat ineffective.
3. Hybrid team
As you’ve probably guessed, this type of team is a mix of the previous two. This approach combines the best of the two worlds, where specialists focus on functional parts of software products, and generalists are responsible for the communication and cooperation inside the team. However, this dream of a team comes with a constraint — usually, this type of software development team is more difficult to gather in terms of time and financial resources.
So which one is it? Well, that’s for you to decide. Aim for the balance of generalists and specialists within your team to achieve better results.
Decide on the software development team structure and size
Now that you’ve established what kind of team you want to build let’s talk about the size. There needs to be a magical number regarding the size of your software development team. Smaller, agile teams are easier to manage on the one hand. Still, in this case, every team member plays a crucial role in the project, and losing even one person can significantly impact the overall result. With bigger teams, the challenge is in managing communication.
But when it comes to assembling the team, it all boils down to the following key factors:
- Project complexity
- Available resources
Based on these essential elements, you can decide what kind of agile team structure and size your solution is. According to Scrum methodology, the optimal team size is between 3 and 9 members, with 7 being the perfect fit. But you can still follow this rule. If your software project requires a bigger team, it means you will be fine managing it or establishing communication. The key here is to manage your team carefully, following your project requirements.
Establish clear roles and goals
Now this one seems obvious — the roles inside your engineering team are pretty straightforward. There are designers, developers, and probably a tester, right? Yes, but no. In reality, the roles of an effective software development team are more versatile and complex than that.
The general development team structure looks and includes the following product team roles:Now let’s look more closely into each of the software development project management team roles:
- The product owner, in the case of an outsourced project, is the client with a vision of how the end product should look, who the end users are, and what it should do.
- A project manager is a person responsible for managing and leading the whole team. Their role is to optimize the team’s work efficiently, ensure the product meets the requirements, and identify the goals for the team.
- A software architect is a highly-skilled software developer who has to think through all the aspects of the project and is responsible for making high-level design choices and selecting technical standards (for instance, determining the technology stack to use).
- Developers or product engineers are team members applying their engineering and programming languages knowledge in software development.
- Experience designers ensure that the product is easy and pleasant to use. They conduct user interviews, market research, and design a product with end-users in mind.
- QA or tester is responsible for Quality Assurance and ensures the product is ready.
- Business Analyst’s role is to uncover ways to improve the product. They interact with stakeholders to understand their problems and needs and later document and analyze them to find a solution.
Understanding the roles within a software development team is crucial for the success of any project. Each role, from the product owner to the business analyst, plays a significant part in ensuring the project’s success, and their collaboration is key to achieving the desired outcomes.
As we transition to the next section, we will delve into the concept of building an agile software development team. Agile methodology is a popular approach in software development that emphasizes flexibility, collaboration, and customer satisfaction. Let’s explore how to implement this methodology in your team effectively.
Build an agile successful software development team
The agile methodology makes your business analyst and team more flexible; it allows you to adapt and respond to some unforeseen changes that might come without damaging the whole process.
There must be a single formula for building your agile software development team. Even within this approach to the software development teams, there are two types of methodology: some prefer Scrum, while others use Kanban.
The latter practice real-time communication and full work transparency. It relies significantly on visualization. It’s at the core of this framework. Work is constantly visually represented on the Kanban board to help the team understand at what stage they are in the hiring process. On top of that, by using visualization, they can work out their stumbling blocks, what slows them down, and find ways to overcome them.
Scrum is the most popular Agile framework in that an Agile team breaks down a large project into smaller chunks (sprints) and reviews and adapts them. Sprints can last from a week to a month in duration. If you are adopting Scrum methodology, the structure of your software development team will include an essential element — Scrum master. They make sure that the team sticks to the agile values and principles and follows the process that the team has agreed on.
Regardless of the framework-building software you choose, agile will help your team deliver faster and more efficiently.
Make communication a priority
And last but not least — communication. This is the final piece of the puzzle that is often the reason for the success or failure of the software development team. You can have all the other elements on track and properly functioning, but if your team lacks this last element, it can sufficiently harm your product and the whole development process.
As hard as your team is at work daily, they spend sufficient time interacting with each other. And if your team members can communicate their needs and project demands to one another, it can boost their collaboration and improve the work process overall. It is also capable of driving creativity and innovation inside the team. It comes in handy when discussing the project’s details and requirements with stakeholders, negotiating timelines, and generally trying to understand what the project’s success and stakeholders want.
Excellent communication skills are an essential soft skill for any software engineer. But it would help if you treated software engineers and their ability to communicate as a given. Your task is to nurture and encourage communication inside your software development team and make it a part of your everyday process by practicing daily standups, designing and coding reviews, writing documentation, presentations, and social events.
The success of your project starts with deciding what kind of software engineering team you want to build. Whether it should consist of specialists with a deep knowledge of their subject, a versatile group of generalists with some knowledge across various fields, or a mix of both. Then you need to determine the size of your team, keeping in mind what your choice entails. Once your team is organized, establish software development team roles and what is expected of each. But remember, a successful team has found clear communication channels and a practical work style.
In any case, it is always best to build teams with providers with experience and expertise in software development. Contact us today, and we will help you gather a team of professionals who can handle projects of any complexity.
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