How to build a development team
September 20, 2023
min read

How to build a development team

Eli McGarvie
Eli McGarvie

Are you a startup looking to build a development team? If so, you've come to the right place. Building a development team can be a daunting task, especially when you're unsure of where to start or who exactly you need to hire. 

In this article, we’ll guide you through the process and shed light on the structure of a typical dev team. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of each role and how they contribute to the success of your team. Let's explore the key considerations and steps involved in building a winning development team.

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Why is having the right development team important? 

When you set out to build a software development team, it is important to understand the significance of assembling the right group of individuals. A well-rounded and skilled team can work together seamlessly, share ideas, and solve complex problems effectively.

Having the right team in place ensures that tasks are completed efficiently, deadlines are met, and the final product meets customer requirements.

A competent development team not only contributes their expertise but also brings in novel ideas and diverse perspectives that fuel progress and create a high-quality end product.

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What are the factors that determine the structure of a team?

When determining the structure of your development team, there are several key factors to consider, and taking these factors into account will help you assemble a team that is well-equipped to successfully complete your software development project.

1. Software type

When building a software development team, it is important to consider the specific requirements and challenges posed by the type of software being developed.

Different types of software may require different skill sets and expertise, which will influence the roles and responsibilities within the team. One example is the creation of a mobile app, which entails mastery in mobile app development, user interface design, and backend integration. While establishing a complicated enterprise software solution may call for database management, server architecture, and security expertise.

RELATED: What is a Mobile Developer? 

2. Budget

Managing the budget is a crucial factor in determining the composition and structure of a software development team. Your budget will directly influence the number of team members you can afford and their level of seniority.

Agile methodologies can help reduce project expenses by promoting efficiency and adaptability. With a limited budget, you may need to consider hiring a smaller team or junior developers. However, it's important to strike a balance between cost and expertise to ensure the successful completion of your project.

3. Deadline

A quick turnaround may require a larger team or senior engineers who can work efficiently under tight deadlines. On the other hand, a longer timeline allows for smaller team sizes. By considering the project timeline, you can determine the optimal team size and allocate resources accordingly. Effective communication and task distribution are crucial for meeting deadlines. Regular progress updates and clear expectations can help keep the team on track and ensure the timely delivery of the product.

Types of team structures

The choice of development team structure depends on a project's specific needs and requirements. Each structure has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the right structure should be selected based on the project's goals, scope, and available resources.

1. Generalist team

In this structure, each team member possesses a wide range of skills and can contribute to multiple aspects of the project. With a generalist team structure, team members are versatile and can adapt to different tasks and roles as needed.

This approach offers greater flexibility and agility in project execution. Team members can easily switch between different responsibilities based on project needs. This adaptability allows for efficient allocation of resources and ensures that the team can quickly respond to changing requirements.

2. Specialist team

A specialist team structure leverages the expertise and skills of individual team members, which allows for a focused and efficient execution of specialised tasks.

This structure allows your team to work more effectively and produce higher-quality results.

For example, dedicated UX/UI designers can ensure your product has a user-friendly interface and provides an optimal user experience. Similarly, having software architects who specialise in designing high-level software architecture can contribute to the stability and security of your product.

3. Hybrid Team Structure

A hybrid team structure combines the benefits of specialist roles with cross-functional collaboration, creating a dynamic and versatile team that can tackle diverse tasks efficiently.

In a hybrid team, each member has a specific area of expertise, allowing them to contribute specialised knowledge and skills to the project. However, they also have the ability to collaborate and work across different areas, ensuring smooth communication and efficient problem-solving.

 How to build a development team

To build a successful development team, there are a few steps to take to ensure you create the perfect team to tackle your projects. 

1. Asses the project requirements and determine the appropriate size for the team

Creating a successful development team starts with examining the requirements of the project so you can determine the optimal team size, allowing for efficient collaboration and maximising productivity.

To do this, evaluate factors such as:

  • The type and complexity of the project
  • The time available for completion
  • The allocated budget
  • The software development approach

2. Choose a team structure

Choosing the right team structure for your project is crucial. It ensures seamless collaboration and unleashes the full potential of your team. There are several factors to consider in this process.

Smaller projects may benefit from a flat team structure with fewer hierarchical levels. This promotes faster decision-making and more direct communication. In contrast, larger and more complex projects may require a more hierarchical team structure. This structure helps ensure clear roles and responsibilities, which can enhance coordination and efficiency.

Next, you’ll need to consider the level of autonomy and self-management you want your team to have. Agile teams, for example, are known for their self-organisation and flexibility. They thrive in an environment where team members have the freedom to make decisions and adapt to changing circumstances. On the other hand, Waterfall teams tend to have more top-down management. This structure may be suitable when there is a need for strict adherence to a predetermined plan.

The right team structure will ultimately depend on your project's unique needs and goals. Take the time to evaluate the specific requirements of your project and select a team structure that aligns with them. This will set your team up for success and maximise their potential.

  • Why an agile team structure is the best choice for startups

If you're a startup looking to build a dev team, going with an Agile team structure can offer you several benefits. An agile team grants you the flexibility to adjust to shifting requirements and market conditions. They also enable fast decision-making, empowering your team to make quick and efficient choices. 

Gather a team of professionals

To ensure you have all the necessary software development team roles covered, it is important to look at  including the following key roles in your team:

  • Product Owner:

The Product Owner is a vital part of any development team. They define business strategy and product vision, balance needs with trends, prioritise features, and collaborate with the UX/UI designer. They also conduct user research and wireframing, contributing to iterative improvements and continuous testing in Agile environments.

  • Project Manager:

The Project Manager ensures timely and cost-effective delivery of a product. This individual is responsible for the effective management and motivation of the development team, allocation of tasks, and keeping everyone updated on the project's status. Additionally, they establish the product vision and promote communication among team members.

The Project Manager has the critical job of overseeing project workflows and making important decisions. Their role is to bridge the gap between the expectations of important stakeholders and the actual tasks at hand. This ensures that the progress of the project is smooth and that all team members are aligned towards a common objective.

RELATED: What's a Project Manager? A Complete Guide

  • Frontend Developers:

The role of frontend developers is to design and develop engaging and interactive user interfaces that are visually appealing. They use their HTML, CSS, and JavaScript expertise to bring your product to life. Working closely with UX/UI designers, they translate design mockups into functional web pages. Frontend developers ensure that the user interface is responsive and user-friendly. 

They also optimise website performance and ensure cross-browser compatibility. Frontend developers deliver high-quality and modern user interfaces by keeping themselves updated with the latest web development trends and best practices. Their skills and knowledge are essential in creating an engaging user experience that captures the attention of your target audience.

RELATED: What is a Frontend Developer? A Complete Guide

  • Backend Developers:

Backend developers play a crucial role in software development. They build the logic and infrastructure that supports the frontend. Working with databases, APIs, and server-side languages like Java, Python, or Ruby, they create the backbone of your application.

Their expertise in data management, security, and scalability ensures that your app can handle high volumes of traffic and user interactions. They collaborate with frontend developers to integrate the frontend and backend components, ensuring a smooth user experience.

RELATED: What is a Backend Developer? A Complete Guide

  • UX/UI Designer

UX/UI designers play a pivotal role in creating an immersive and intuitive user experience. They transform product vision into user-friendly designs and are essential members of a development team. Their expertise is crucial in ensuring that the final product meets customer requirements.

RELATED: What's a UI developer? A Complete Guide

  • Data Analyst

A data analyst is a skilled expert who gathers, interprets, and scrutinises vast amounts of data to uncover significant patterns, insights, and trends. They employ diverse statistical methods, data mining tools, and programming languages to prepare, structure, and convert data into a comprehensible format that can be utilised to make informed decisions.

RELATED: What is a Data Analyst?

  • Quality Assurance Engineer | QA Specialist

The Quality Assurance Engineer, also known as the QA Specialist, meticulously examines every aspect of the product, ensuring that it functions flawlessly and delivers a seamless user experience.

They play a critical role in the software development team by conducting various types of testing, identifying functional and non-functional defects, and creating testing documentation.

They are responsible for designing quality assurance processes and ensuring the application performs according to the requirements.

  • DevOps Specialist

A DevOps specialist is essential for maximising the efficiency and stability of your software operations. They facilitate cooperation between the development and operations teams, playing a crucial role in the success of your project. A key responsibility of a DevOps specialist is building Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) pipelines. These pipelines enable faster delivery of software by unifying and automating the software delivery process. 

With their expertise, a DevOps specialist ensures that changes are introduced smoothly and maintain application stability. They oversee code releases on a CI/CD basis, ensuring a seamless and efficient deployment process. By including a DevOps specialist in your team, you can achieve faster delivery, improved collaboration, and enhanced application stability. 

3. Cultivate practical communication

It’s crucial to establish clear communication channels. Use project management software such as Hive, Jira, Smartsheet or Trello to organise and track tasks. Encourage the use of messaging apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams for quick and efficient communication.

In addition to digital communication, utilise verbal communication through video conferencing or project briefings to discuss important topics and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Effective communication is key to avoiding misunderstandings, resolving issues promptly, 

and keeping everyone informed about project updates and progress. By implementing these communication strategies, you can enhance collaboration, streamline workflows, and ultimately deliver high-quality software products.


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