Software development team structure guide

Software development team structure guide

Author: Dmytro Naumenko

30 Aug 2021

Whether you are a daring startup aiming to launch a new product or an established company planning to digitize your operations, you will need a software development team to get it done. However, project specifics affect the way you should structure this team in order to ensure it succeeds with the tasks at hand. Кeep reading to find out the main approaches to organizing a software development team, as well as the key roles it must include.

What to look at before you start

You need to plan the team roles and positions in advance and have a clear picture in place before you start hiring people. There are several important questions to answer, and these answers define the scope of the team and the roles it should include.

  • Project scope — building a Proof of Concept or a Minimal Viable Product requires much less time and headcount than building a full-size feature-rich app. For the former, you need 4-5 people (a Product Owner, a Software Architect, a UI/UX designer, a Business Analyst, a Project Manager and maybe a Team Lead). For MVP development. you add leading developers and QA engineers to plan the product architecture correctly from the start. Finally, building a full-scale product might require varying numbers of specialists, based on the project management model chosen (Agile or Waterfall), and the actual number of features you want to implement.
  • Project time — naturally, 4 senior developers can deliver more results in a couple of months than 8 middle developers in half a year. But they will also cost you much more. Thus, you need to balance the team scope against your budget limitations. Speaking of which…
  • Project budget — we all would like to have unlimited budgets at our disposal, but in harsh reality, this is not the case. Thus, you need to decide how many people you can hire, what their seniority should be, and how many features the product must have at release. Using Agile methodology helps a lot, as you can quickly roll out an MVP and then add more features with time, to ensure better cost-efficiency of the development.
  • Project management approach — A lot depends on whether you follow the Agile or Waterfall project management paradigm. With Waterfall, you plan the project from the start to the finish and it goes in strict sequential phases. If you decide to deprecate or add some feature mid-development, this is nearly impossible to do. However, you get a predictable development roadmap and timeline. This project works best with the Fixed Price project approach. With Agile, the development is split into 2-weeks-long sprints, and you get a working batch of code at the end of each sprint, so the product can evolve incrementally. This greatly eases the adjustments mid-development, if any changes are needed — but this also makes the process quite vaguely predictable. Time&Materiel is the best project approach for Agile development.

Defining the team size and composition

Having selected all the above, you come to the need to define the product team size and seniority. This is best done at the Discovery phase of project delivery, in collaboration between the Product Owner, the Business Analyst, and the Software Architect.

The Business Analyst gathers all the possible input from your business stakeholders on all aspects of the project. Product Owner and Software Architect transform your expectations into project requirements. These requirements help the Team Lead define what tasks must be accomplished and what level of seniority is needed for them.

For example, if you need to integrate Stripe or any other payments processor with your app, and you have some custom requirements, you will need to hire a Stripe API developer to implement them. This will require quite an expert, as custom Stripe API implementation is a chore and a half, so you will need to look for a senior or strong middle specialist.

But should your app use only standard Stripe functions, it will do just fine using predefined integration routines described in the developer documentation. This task can be performed by a junior Stripe developer (or any junior or middle developer really, it will just take more time). Thus, if even the increased time is still within the allotted project timeline — you can save on hiring an expensive talent without compromising the quality of the product.

The same logic applies to every role in the team. 5 senior developers might do everything perfectly well and within a very tight deadline. But — they can also start pulling the blanket, arguing about various aspects, asserting their leadership and derailing the project in the process (this variant is much more possible). Thus, should you want to avoid unneeded in-team competition and you have some time to spare — hiring middle or even junior specialists can still do the job.

As a technology partner, Spintech is used to building teams of all scopes and seniority levels for various kinds of projects. We will be happy to help you define the team size and composition based on your unique project requirements. Contact us and let’s start working on your next project today!