What is the structure of the software development team? To be honest, there can be a simple answer to this question: a product owner, a business analyst, a project manager, a solution architect, UI/UX designers, software developers, QA, and DevOps engineers comprise the software development team. Is that all? No. The truth is, knowing who is among the members, their roles, and their responsibilities don't answer the main question: "How do I choose a team structure for my own project?" Right? That's because there are many hidden rocks on how to form a development team.
In this blog post, we'll show you the main factors affecting development teams’ structure and provide you with some helpful tips on how to form your software development team.
What Affects Software Engineering Team Structure?
To correctly define the software development team structure, you should consider several important aspects such as project size, timeline, etc. Let's take a closer look at the main factors influencing the development team structure:
Project size and complexity
Large projects usually require extended teams with multiple developers, testers, designers, and project managers. Complex tasks like building large scalable systems may require architecture experts and performance optimization specialists. In smaller projects, software development team organization may be more compact but still needs to be versatile to ensure a complete development cycle.
|Project Scope/Stage||Team Size||Team Roles|
Discovery Phase/Proof of Concept
Up to 5 specialists
Product owner, Project manager, Business analyst, Software architect, UI/UX designer
Product owner, Project manager, Business analyst, UI/UX designer, Software engineers, Test engineers
Agile: Up to 9 specialists (multiple Agile teams for large-scale projects)
Waterfall: Variable based on complexity
Product owner, Project manager, Business analyst, UI/UX designer, Software architect , Software engineers, QA engineers, DevOps
Business objectives and domain
Developing software related to a specific industry or domain may require an expert understanding of that domain. For example, when developing a telemedicine app, your software development team composition should have experts who understand the domain regulatory requirements. You can also choose strategies such as staff augmentation to bring in the necessary experts from other organizations temporarily. An alternative to this solution is to hire a dedicated development team, which allows you to have a team of all the experts you need without incurring additional search and maintenance costs.
If the project has a limited timeframe, it may require increasing the team size. For example, additional developers or distributing tasks across teams can speed up development. Limited deadlines may also need more intensive work and additional QA engineers in the software team structure to quickly identify and fix bugs.
Financial constraints can also significantly impact team structure in software development. If your budget is limited, you may choose more economical solutions, such as reducing team size or using open-source technologies to accelerate the development process. On the other hand, a higher budget will allow you to attract more talent and use expensive development tools.
Read our competent guide on how to get funding for app development: financing sources and strategies budget planning
Required technical stack
Choosing specific technologies and frameworks may require specialists familiar with these tools. For example, if you want to implement Internet of Things (IoT) technology, your software engineering team structure should include specialists familiar with the particulars of developing IoT solutions. Also, if you want to make an app, you need developers with experience in developing solutions for the platform you selected (iOS, Android, or web).
These factors can influence the team structure and require flexible solutions to complete a software development project successfully. If you have any doubts, you can get in touch with our experts. We’ll analyze your demands and help you build an optimal hierarchy of software development team.
Types of Software Development Teams: Pros and Cons
When it comes to forming a development team structure, you will face choosing between one of the main approaches: generalists, specialists, or hybrid teams. Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each option:
A generalist team is a group of developers who have a wide range of skills and can perform various tasks in a project. These software engineers can handle both front-end and back-end development, database management, testing, and other aspects of the project. They are usually generalists, able to adapt to different tasks and situations.
- Versatility. Generalists have a broad skill set and can perform various tasks. This can be useful in smaller projects or at the beginning of development to respond to different requirements.
- Shared expertise. In such a team, developers can share knowledge and experience, facilitating creative problem-solving.
- Limited expertise. Experts may lack highly specialized knowledge in a particular area. This can make it difficult to solve complex or technical issues.
- Limited productivity. In large and complex projects, such teams may work less efficiently due to a lack of specialized skills.
A specialist team consists of highly qualified experts in a narrow field. They have in-depth knowledge and experience in a particular development area, such as custom app development, offshore mobile app development, UI/UX design services, etc. These teams usually specialize in complex and industry-specific projects.
- High expertise. Specialized teams have in-depth knowledge and experience in certain areas (Healthcare, FinTech, Logistics, etc.), which makes them a perfect fit for complex projects.
- High productivity. These teams are usually more efficient in performing tasks related to their specific sub-specialization and provide better product quality.
- Limited versatility. Specialists typically can't perform a variety of tasks. You may need many specialized teams for different aspects of a project.
- Communication difficulties. There are difficulties in sharing information and coordinating between specialized teams, which can slow solution development.
A hybrid team combines generalists and specialists. Such an approach creates a balance between versatility and expertise, which can be helpful in various projects with different requirements.
- Balance. Hybrid teams can combine generalists and specialized experts, balancing versatility and expertise, resulting in higher ROI.
- Flexibility. Depending on project requirements and milestones, you can customize the team composition by bringing in the right specialists.
- Managing complexity. Managing hybrid teams can be more complicated and require additional planning and coordination efforts.
- Training and development costs. Ensuring your team develops and trains to stay on top of new technologies and methods may require additional resources.
Choosing an approach to software development team structure depends on your project's specific requirements, budget and time, and the availability of expertise. Assessing your project needs and finding the best balance between versatility and knowledge is vital to achieving software development success. To simplify this choice, we have created a comprehensive table explaining when a particular approach is most appropriate.
|Type of team structure||When to apply|
What Experts Define Development Team Structure?
Team structure is determined by different stakeholders depending on the size and complexity of the project, technical specifications, and project requirements. In this section we will consider the Agile-specific structure as it is a widely used and preferred approach to team building.
Product Owner (PO)
- Ownership of the product vision
- Defining requirements and user stories
The Product Owner is the "voice of the customer" on the development team. Their primary responsibility is to define what features should be developed and in what order. Product Owners work with the customer or business representatives to understand their needs and create a task list through user stories.
The Product Owners also prioritize tasks, establish acceptance criteria, and participate in product reviews. They maximize value for the customer by making sure the team is working on the most important and valuable features.
- Analyzes customer’s business needs
- Develops business processes and user scenarios
Business analysts analyze customer’s business needs and business processes. They work with the client to define product requirements. The Business Analyst creates user stories, data flow diagrams, and other documentation that helps the team understand what needs to be developed. Business analysts translate customer needs into language that developers can understand. They also help optimize business processes and suggest solutions to improve the product. These specialists are actively involved in the project from the solution design phase to release.
- Defining product architecture and technology solutions
- Ensuring scalability and performance
The role of the Solution Architect is to develop the overall architecture of the product. They define the structure, components, and technologies for the project. The Solution Architect also ensures that the product meets high security and performance standards. These specialists are actively involved in the project from the solution design stage to release.
Product Delivery Manager
- Planning and managing the product delivery process
- Ensuring transparency and efficiency of the development team
The product Delivery Manager is in charge of organizing the product delivery process to the customer. They plan and control the development processes and ensure compliance with budget and timelines. Product Delivery Manager also manages resources, optimizes operations, and ensures communication with the customer. These specialists are actively involved in the project release.
- Coordination of the team
- Ensuring communication with the product owner
The Project Manager controls all aspects of the project, including planning, budget, resources, and timelines. They ensure communication between team members and the customer, follow up on tasks, and resolve problems. The Project manager provides the successful completion of the project by monitoring project status and ensuring compliance with business objectives and customer requirements. These specialists are actively involved in the project from the Discovery phase to release.
Explore our 10 steps checklist about how to build software development team to find some valuable insights
- Ensuring adherence to the Scrum methodology
- Helping to remove obstacles and solve problems
- Ensuring adherence to timelines and quality of work
The Scrum Master is the "gatekeeper" of the Scrum methodology. They ensure that the team follows the Scrum process and adheres to agreements. The Scrum Master removes obstacles and helps the team solve problems that can slow down development. They also train the Scrum team and help them improve their performance. The Scrum Master focuses on supporting the team rather than managing.
- Product design development
- Creating interfaces and user experience
UI/UX designers are involved in all phases of development, from researching user needs and prototyping to working with developers to implement the design. Their goal is to make the product intuitive and enjoyable to use. Designers work on the product's user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). Designers are also creating mockups, icons, and other visual elements.
- Developing solution functionality and making integrations
- Keeping track of the code quality and functionality of the product
Software engineers play a key role in the product development stage. They must be familiar with the technologies and programming languages used in the project and work closely with other team members, e.g., UI/UX designers, Solution Architects and Project Manager. Programmers are responsible for creating the code and implementing the product's functionality.
- Testing the product and identifying bugs and problems
- Ensuring the quality of the product
QA engineers are responsible for testing the product to detect bugs and defects. They create test scripts and perform functional, integration, and other types of testing. Quality Assurance services also include improving the product's quality by addressing possible problems. These specialists are involved in the project from development to release.
- Automating development, testing, and deployment processes
- Ensuring reliability and scalability of infrastructure
DevOps engineers implement tools and methodologies that enable developers and QA engineers to develop, test, and deploy new features quickly. DevOps services also include monitoring backups and ensuring system security.
While our described roles generally cover the needs of a software development team structure, larger and more complex projects might require extra positions like RPA developers (as an example). This adjustment doesn't compromise the Agile principles but rather strengthens their relevance and effectiveness when dealing with extensive and intricate scenarios.
Agile team structure
Short-Story Cases on How Cleveroad Successfully Implemented Specific Team Structure
At Cleveroad, we follow a multi-step assembling procedure to provide a team of dedicated experts to meet your requirements. Here are some of our cases in forming the software development team for our clients that successfully met their project demands:
Creation of micro-investment platform
Our client, an investment company from Saudi Arabia, approached us to develop a cross-platform app for managing micro-investments and savings. One of the tech challenges was to augment the team with experts that have experience in building compliant-based banking software.
To address the client's business needs, we assembled a team of 8 industry experts within one month, including Senior Flutter developer, that has constantly worked with similar complex solutions. As a result, the customer got the necessary expertise in the shortest time, which helped them receive the micro-investment platform quickly. Careful selection of the software team structure allowed our client to develop and release the solution fast and ensure its compliance with fintech regulations, namely the SAMA Cybersecurity Framework.
Development of Quality Management System
Our client, a medical device manufacturer from the USA, hired us to modernize a Quality Management System (QMS). The customer required a full-time remote team to expand its development capabilities with the relevant expertise. To meet our client's business needs, we provided them with a dedicated development team, including experienced .NET developers and mobile developers, who perfectly matched the project requirements.
The client got a team that was constantly in touch with them and available at each process step. The effective collaboration with the Cleveroad team allowed them to quickly develop a new QMS solution that is compatible with FDA and ISO requirements.
Best Practices on How to Structure a Software Development Team
Learn the best practices on how to structure a software development team based on our personal insights as an IT provider with 11+ years of experience.
Engage a skilled IT provider
Contacting an experienced IT provider early in the process is beneficial. After a thorough analysis, they can assemble a team tailored to your project's requirements. At Cleveroad, we launch several meetings with you to clarify your requirements, details of your project, etc. After that, we select the most suitable candidates for you, from which you can choose the best ones after an interview.
The team will start working on your project as soon as they familiarize with your requirements and documentation. You can also scale the team up and down depending on the project stage. For example, at the final stages, the number of developers can be reduced, and if the tasks become more extensive, the number of specialists involved can be increased.
One of the most profitable options for software development is to cooperate with outsourced software development partner. By outsourcing your project to an offshore or nearshore team, you can get the following advantages:
- Access to vetted specialists. IT providers often have a pool of pre-screened and experienced professionals, ensuring you get a skilled team from the start.
- Cost efficiency. Outsourcing can reduce operational costs significantly compared to hiring an in-house team, making it a cost-effective choice.
- Access to a global talent pool. Outsourcing allows you to tap into a diverse and global talent pool. You're not limited to hiring talent only within your geographic location.
Read our detailed guide on how to outsource software development and succeed
Role definition and hard skill assessment
Creating a team structure for software development includes mandatory assigning key roles. This step ensures that everyone understands their tasks and contributions to the project. Additionally, you should assess the hard skills of potential team members to ensure they possess the technical expertise required for their respective roles. You can use our interview question files to evaluate the experience and expertise of the candidates:
Consider domain expertise
If your project requires specific domain knowledge, an IT provider can provide you with the necessary expertise. They can include specialists who deeply understand your project's industry, whether you want to build order management software or create e-commerce website. These specialists can offer valuable insights, guidance, and solutions that align with industry best practices, ensuring that your product meets domain-specific requirements.
Developing an effective communication policy is paramount for the success of your software development team. An IT provider can guide you on how to manage remote teams by offering recommendations based on their experience working with distributed and remote experts. They can suggest suitable communication tools and practices that enhance collaboration and transparency among team members. Some IT providers even provide facilitation services for team meetings and communication channels, ensuring your team stays connected and productive.
Cleveroad's communication policy includes regular customer meetings to ensure smooth product development. To communicate effectively, we use tools such as project management systems (e.g., Jira), video conferencing (e.g., Google Meets), Slack for instant messaging, and Git and GitHub version control systems. Our team also takes into account time zone differences. We schedule meetings and calls at a convenient time for the client.
Ensure adaptability and scalability
A tech vendor can provide valuable support to ensure your software development team remains adaptable and scalable. They may offer training programs aimed at enhancing your team's adaptability. These programs often focus on agile methodologies, continuous learning, and skill development, enabling your team to stay agile and responsive to changing project demands. Additionally, IT providers can quickly adjust the size and composition of your team as your project evolves, ensuring that you always have the right resources at each project stage.
Track key performance indicators
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are essential for monitoring and evaluating the performance of your software engineering team. Your tech service provider can help you with this by helping you select appropriate KPIs that align with your project goals and objectives. They can also offer tools and processes to track these KPIs effectively:
- Project management tools
- Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) tools
- Custom dashboards, etc.
Regular reports provided by IT providers will allow you to assess team performance, make informed decisions and changes as needed.
For instance, the Cleveroad team uses a number of tools to monitor development performance. Provides regular client meetings, sprint reviews, and form delivery reports (that show where the project stands) so you comprehend the project’s direction and what to expect. These reports include metrics such as project completion %, the ratio of planned tasks to completed tasks, and time spent.
Unveil how dedicated development team services can help you expand your development expertise
Cleveroad is Your Reliable Partner in Forming a Development Team for Your Project
Cleveroad is a software development company with over 11 years of experience in the industry. We assist startups, small companies and large enterprises in building digital solutions for various business domains: Logistics, Healthcare, Media, Retail, FinTech, Education, etc. Our dedicated development team services will allow you to assemble a team of domain experts for a new project creation or updating an existing solution meeting your budget.
By partnering with us, you will receive the following benefits:
- Skilled team with experience in developing web and mobile solutions for different business domains including Healthcare, FinTech, Logistics, Retail, Education, etc.
- Flexible collaboration models: Dedicated Team, Staff Augmentation, Time & Material, etc.
- On-demand team scaling based on the current needs of your project
- The agile-oriented development team focused on delivering the best results within your time and budget constraints
- On-demand IT services: software development from scratch, legacy system modernization, DevOps services, cloud development, UI/UX design, etc.
- Full control of the team at all stages of development, from planning to release
- Quick access to the expertise you need: we can provide you with the specialists required for your project within 24 hours
- Signing NDA after a first contact per your request to ensure confidntiality
Get dedicated software development team
Attract experts to create software from scratch or expand your existing team with the required skill set. Apply to us, and we'll get back to you to outline all the requirements for candidates
Software development team structure defines what roles and specialists are present in the team and how they interact with each other. This includes determining who will be responsible for project management, who will develop software code, who will do testing, and how communication and interaction within the team will be organized.
The structure of a software development team can vary, but a typical development team includes roles and responsibilities such as: Product Owner, Business Analyst, Solution Architect, Solution Architect, Project Manager, Scrum Master, software edvelopers, QA engineers, DevOps.
The number of team members can vary depending on the size and complexity of the project. Organizing the team includes defining roles, assessing skills, and incorporating domain expertise if necessary.
The best way to organize your development team structure is to turn to an experienced software provider who will help you identify key roles, select specialists with appropriate hard skills, and ensure that the team has all the right domain experts. Moreover, an experienced IT partner will help you implement optimal communication policies, ensure adaptability and scalability, and help you track critical KPIs.
Roles in a software development team include product owner, business analyst, solution architect, project manager, UI/UX designer, software developer, QA engineer, DevOps engineer, and more. Responsibilities vary but typically involve defining requirements, designing, coding, testing, and ensuring successful project delivery.
Evgeniy Altynpara is a CTO and member of the Forbes Councils’ community of tech professionals. He is an expert in software development and technological entrepreneurship and has 10+years of experience in digital transformation consulting in Healthcare, FinTech, Supply Chain and Logistics
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