“Get the right people. Then no matter what else you might do wrong after that, the people will save you. That’s what management is all about.” ~ Tom DeMarco
The famous American software engineer and notable early developer of structured analysis in the 1970s, Tom DeMarco, said these famous words. And it is true! The success of a software project is highly dependent on the software development team that is given the opportunity to work on it.
Developing a web or mobile app, especially if it is a complex one, is not a one-person job. All participants fill certain software development team roles and responsibilities. Depending on the size of your project, you can have as many people as you want, given that you are able to monitor and manage them efficiently. However, for building a software development team that is perfect, you need to understand exactly what role each member plays.
So, if you are wondering how to set up and manage a team, read on for a step-by-step guide to building a software dedicated development team.
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Define Your Goals
Before you start putting together a team for your new project, you must be crystal clear about what you want from the team. What are your goals? What do you expect your team to do for you? These are some important questions you need to answer to determine the structure you will follow when building a software development team of your own.
Here is an example:
Suppose you want to cook an omelette. Before you decide the method that you are going to follow, you should know what ingredients you want in your omelette. Do you want it to have olives and mushrooms? Do you want a cheese omelette? Then there is the question of herbs and spices. Once you have decided on the ingredients, you must pick the right kind of pan to use for cooking. Then, you will start making the omelette and add each ingredient in the right order.
You need to follow the same process for your software product.
Determine the Ideal Team Size
Before you can pick the members for your team, you need to know how many people you will need for your project.
Deciding the team size depends on various factors. We discussed the first factor in the previous section: goals. What you aim to achieve over the course of your desktop software development project plays a major role in determining the size of your team. Apart from that, the following factors also play a significant role in this decision:
- How complex your project requirements are
- How much time you have to complete the project
- How much money you can afford to spend on the project’s development
Both small and large teams have their pros and cons. With a small team, you will be able to save money, it will be effortless to manage and monitor all the members, and it will be easier to communicate. However, with fewer members, it may take a longer time to complete the project. With a larger cross-functional team, on the other hand, you might be able to meet deadlines. But there are other risks, such as weaker communication, monitoring, and management.
Fill in Key Roles and Responsibilities
Now comes the most important part of building a software team.
In order to decide who you want to include in your team, you need to understand what each member does. There are many software developer roles and responsibilities in a project that you may need to fill. Once you figure out who does what, it will be easier to match their roles to the tasks you want them to perform when assigned to the project. Without further ado, let’s talk about some of the key software development team roles and responsibilities.
1. Product Owner
The product owner is the person who comes up with the idea of the software application. If you are outsourcing your project to a software development company, you will be the product owner. You will have a say in the product’s development process from start to finish. Your top-most priority will be to make sure that the final product is perfectly built for the end-users.
Given that you possess enough technical knowledge, you can tell the developers how to go about bringing your product idea to life. You can also take control of all important decisions that need to be made over the course of the project. As the owner, you will be responsible for making sure that the project is progressing as per your vision.
2. Project Manager
When building a software team, the project manager is the senior-most role. A project manager must always be aware of everything that goes on during the software development process. They are the ones who keep a close eye on the team’s development activities and the overall progress of the project.
From the moment that the project is set in motion, the project manager takes control. They usually act as a bridge between the business and technical parts of the project. Thus, they need to be well-versed in both. They must know their entire team inside out and be able to efficiently assign the best possible resources for each task that needs to be done.
Overseeing the entire development project, they must be prepared for any difficulties that the team faces and know how to handle any problem in the most efficient manner. If the team encounters a problem, it is the project manager’s responsibility to either solve it themselves or assign it to the relevant person to solve. While managing software development teams, their duties also include ensuring effective intra-team communication so that the team is on the same page at all times.
3. Business Analyst
Software developers often have a hard time understanding the business aspect of projects that they work on. In all honesty, it is perfectly understandable. They are not business or marketing majors. All they know is technical jargon. The people on the business side, on the other hand, fail to understand this jargon. This gap can lead to drastic miscommunication, ruining the entire project.
Sometimes, non-technical people can come up with highly impractical ideas that cannot be implemented within the scope of their projects, and the tech team has a hard time trying to explain to them why what they are asking for is impossible to create.
To avoid all that, most software development teams have a business analyst.
In the absence of a project manager who can effectively communicate with the business team, it is the business analyst who gathers all the (realistic and rational!) business requirements that the product owner wants to see in the software and translates these requirements into a language that the technical team can understand. If they feel that a certain feature or requirement is impractical, they can raise their concerns with the product owner. They can also suggest what steps the developers should take to implement certain features described in the requirements specification. This is achieved by drawing up relevant documentation, such as wireframes and user personas.
4. Software Architect
Before development starts, the software development team needs to decide a few key things, such as the tools and technologies that are to be used for a certain project.
Software architects play an important role in the software development team structure because they are responsible for determining which technology stack, system architecture, platform and environment will be best suited for a particular project. They also decide what coding standards the team will follow such that they meet industry best practices. Preparing certain technical documentation and reports is also part of their job.
5. Software Developer
Now comes the most important part of the development team: the software developer.
The actual translation of business requirements into a working software application is done by developers using their programming and engineering skills and knowledge. They are responsible for all the coding that is required in a software development project.
There are two main types of software developers:
- Frontend developer: They are the people who create the user-facing part of your software application. A part of their job is to ensure that the users have a nice, smooth, and hassle-free experience when using your app.
- Backend developer: They are responsible for the parts of your software application that the users cannot see but without which the software would not be able to function. They take care of the backend code, database architecture, APIs, and many more components which determine the technical stability and security of your app.
Developers handle the completion and delivery of each module of the project. A developer’s work also includes drawing up realistic time and cost estimates in accordance with the current status of the project.
6. UI Designer
The User Interface (UI) designer is the person responsible for making your software application look aesthetically pleasing. Without input from the UI designer, the developers would be writing bare code with no regard to visual design elements.
UI designers create high-fidelity wireframes (and, sometimes, also prototypes) so that the software application that the team is creating has a pleasant appearance that will appeal to the end-users. They can also help you out with logos and other branding aspects if needed. For these purposes, they may be required to be able to communicate with the business team as well as the custom software development team.
7. UX Designer
User Experience (UX) is also a key part of software development aesthetics. It is extremely important that the end-user feel comfortable while using your app. For this purpose, a UX designer analyses how a user may potentially interact with an app, and then engineers the app’s design in such a way that it allows the user to have a smooth experience with the app. They ensure that the app is user-friendly and fully functional, with zero hiccups.
While they may be needed most in the design phase of a project, they are often forced to participate throughout the development lifecycle, guiding developers on how to achieve certain user-focused features with their excellent design skills.
8. QA Engineer & Tester
What do you think will happen if you release your new multi-player game app in the market and it does not fare well because it keeps crashing every time a new player joins the game? All your development and marketing efforts will go down the drain. For this reason, Quality Assurance (QA) engineers and software testers are critical team members of any software development team.
A tester or QA engineer determines whether or not a seemingly complete software app is ready to be used by end-users. They make sure that the app meets the industrial benchmarks of quality and usability. They also take the software on multiple test runs to ensure that it is free of any errors – ‘bugs’ – that could cause it to malfunction. Testers have another job: they check whether the finished app contains all the features that were requested by the product owner.
Software development teams that wish to save their time and resources often employ the services of QA engineers and testers after the completion of each module. With the addition of each new module or feature, the app is tested for any new bugs that may have been caused by the version update.
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Now that you know exactly what each and every member of the team does, you, as a client, will be well-equipped to deal with any software development agency you choose to work with for building a software development team for your project. You will know exactly what things to look out for, making sure that you are leaving the production of your software in good hands.
From business analysts and programmers to designers and testers, each member will play a vital role in the success of your software project, and you will understand and appreciate how much teamwork and effort goes into its creation.