What factors should be considered when building a software development team?

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Before you can start building your own software, you need to build your development team first, and you may find this part to be just as challenging. The mistakes that people make at this stage can come back to haunt them later on, during the development phase. This is why you should pick your specialists wisely, so they can quickly learn to work together. It’s best when teams are cross functional with team-members that can perform various jobs, and help one another.

The benefits of choosing the right team members are worth their weight in gold, as this gives you:

  • higher efficiency, which leads to faster delivery;
  • good communication within the team, which reduces the risk of potential misunderstandings;
  • broad expertise, so you can have wider perspective on the project – and on any issues that can emerge every now and then;
  • great outcomes which are in line with your requirements and business needs.

However, the process itself isn’t exactly a walk in the park, and it’s important to have a well thought out strategy along with an essential checklist of things to consider before hiring anyone.

5 factors to consider when constructing a development team

  1. The nature of the project

    What are your business needs and specific requirements? What is the scope of your project? How do you imagine the expected outcomes? These are the first questions that you should ask yourself. Knowing what you want is a good starting point that allows you to determine, e.g., what kind of roles need to be fulfilled and how many team members are required.

  2. Diversity in expertise

    A perfect development team should be composed of members who specialise in various technologies, have a broad range of knowledge and an equally extensive range of skills. Of course, first and foremost, you need to hire experts in the technical fields of your primary interest, but you should also be screening these new team members for tunnel vision. They need to be open to trends and innovations and always be ready to learn something new. The more open they are to constructive discussions, the better they are for your project. Remember: nowadays, the needs and requirements of a project are no longer set in stone. Everything can change, so your team will have to be flexible and knowledgeable enough in different areas, to be able to adjust to shifting circumstances.

  3. Well-balanced hard and soft skills

    Having technical knowledge is important, but it’s definitely not enough to be a good member of any development team. We might even go so far as to say that an inexperienced developer who is eager to learn and has excellent soft skills may be a better addition to your team than a genius engineer with no soft skills at all. Why? Because it’s close to impossible to cooperate with someone who is unable to communicate effectively or who has no emotional empathy towards others. Apart from hard skills, you should also look for great communication skills, a flexible attitude, a solution-oriented approach and high social intelligence.

  4. Optimal leader-to-employee ratio

    Of course, the leader-to-employee ratio depends on the specific nature of your project. That’s why point number 1 is so important, and you should take care to get all the details down on paper. Once the nature of the project has been properly established, you can determine how many leaders are necessary. Speaking from our own experience, a leader can effectively manage one larger team that consists of 12 to 18 members, or two smaller teams with less than 10 people each – usually around 6. This is a very general rule and should always be adjusted to each individual project, but it may be a good standard for you to follow, especially if it’s the first time you are building a software development team.

  5. Most common must-have roles

    You may need all of the specialists mentioned below or only a few of them, depending on the project. Whether it’s a big project or a small one, you should at least consider each of these roles, and see if you could benefit from having this kind of expertise on board.

  • Product Owner
    A Product Owner (PO) is someone who is responsible for maximising the value of the solution that you want to create. It is a pretty important role that should be a vital part of every development team, no matter how big the project is. In our organisation, this position is sometimes supported by a Business Analyst (BA), usually when we are working with a client side PO.
  • Project Manager
    You may want to add a Project Manager (PM) to your team if the project is complicated and requires a lot of coordination. A PM will help you keep everything in check.
  • Developers + Quality Assurance
    Of course, you will need developers on your team. But you should also consider having someone who will be responsible for guaranteeing a high level of quality, and who can test and detect issues early on in the process. A Quality Assurance specialist (QA) may be a good addition to your team, and in general, the developers-to-QA ratio that we recommend is 3 to 1.
  • Lead Developer/Tech Leader
    This position usually emerges naturally once the project is already in progress, but you can also assign the most experienced developer with leadership qualities to be a Tech Lead straight away. At Future Processing, this role is also known as a Lead Software Engineer.
  • UX Designer
    Solutions are created for users. It is why a development team should consist someone who will conduct user research beforehand, and design the product with all the details that are related to user experience in mind. A good UX Designer can significantly increase the long term ROI of your product.
  • Security Engineer
    A Security Engineer may be crucial if your project involves dealing with a lot of sensitive data, making security one of your absolute priorities.

Key takeaways

We hope that all of the above-mentioned tips will help you select the best team members for your project. The most significant takeaways you should remember are:

  • always adjust the composition of your team to your project, not the other way around,
  • hard skills are very important, but soft skills may be essential to your project success,
  • a good balance between all the different roles in your team will positively influence the effectiveness of your work.

However, you don’t always have to build your team from scratch. You can also hire an existing one by cooperating with an IT partner, and then all of this would be taken care of for you. Plus, you would be able to scale up or down whenever you need to, and you wouldn’t have to worry about the management process or any HR or infrastructure-related costs. If you have any questions about this, feel free to contact us!