This article was originally published on .cult by Chameera Dulanga. .cult is a Berlin community platform for developers. We write about all things career, make original documentaries, and share tons of other untold developer stories from around the world.
Software development is teamwork and a good team structure is crucial for success. But even a tiny misalignment could affect the performance of our teams. Therefore, we should be extra careful when assembling a team.
In this article, I will discuss some important factors that you need to consider when building a software development team for your business.
Why is team structure important?
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As you build a software development team, you should look at several things that affect the team’s productivity and effectiveness.
In modern agile teams, we hardly ever measure effectiveness by the lines of code produced. Instead, we place more emphasis on quality and continuous improvement. And the team should be able to achieve the “desired result”.
So we need to address the following questions:
- Do we have the right skills on site?
- technical skills
- soft skills
2. Do we have the right environment to work together?
- Clear roles and responsibilities
- Means of communication are available
3. Does the team know its goals?
- Clear communication from top to bottom so the team knows the expectation
- Precise requirements that reduce rework
4. Is the team empowered to achieve better quality results?
- processes in place
- Leadership that gives the right direction
- Correct payment
- A culture that values and celebrates victories
5. Can the team achieve a better result than each individual?
- team synergy
- Continuous improvement
- Self-managing and self-healing teams
We also have to consider the budget. You should always have a cap to find the right balance for optimal team structure.
But the question is, “How do we determine the perfect team structure?”
Deciding on the best team structure
As you can see, there are many factors that we need to consider when assembling a team. And some of them you will only identify after the team starts performing.
However, finding people with a proven track record, especially for the executive level, will help you mitigate the risks.
Let’s focus on the key factors that we have control over when selecting people for a team;
- The number of team members
2. Experience level of engineers
3. Costs of running the team (remuneration and other expenses)
1. Number of team members
We typically set the number of people on a team based on project estimates and delivery milestones. One thing you shouldn’t do is run the project with fewer developers than required, even if they are very talented. You risk sacrificing quality and causing more problems in the long run.
However, things get complicated when you need to decide the structure of the team. Since not all people play the same role, we need to start thinking about the composition of the team by identifying different roles.
- Who leads the team and manages the project?
- Do we need to split into sub-teams? (which could mean more executives…)
- Who owns the architecture?
- What other roles are required, e.g. B. Quality Assurance, UI/UX, Project Management, Business Analyst?
2nd level of experience
The level of experience of the engineers has a direct impact on quality and productivity. But that doesn’t mean we need a team full of experienced people. Remember, we talked about team synergies.
We need to think about the different levels of experience that exist within the team. Because people work together, they can learn from each other and achieve the desired result.
Why experience levels affect quality and productivity
Quality cannot be built over a day or two. It comes with experience.
Suppose you are starting a new Java project and are looking for a developer. When you use developers who are new to the technology, they need time to learn – which means the project slows down.
Also, they don’t have the necessary experience with best practices, which leads to more follow-up work. In this case, contact a developer who is familiar with Java. Simply!
However, if you need more than one developer to work on a project, you may want to consider different skill levels. You can let the team of experienced developers guide you to the goal without sacrificing your productivity. From a hiring perspective, it also means you can consider a larger pool of developers to join your team.
Having a team full of experienced employees becomes a challenge
First, it affects your budget, more experienced developers will obviously charge more!
In addition, they expect better opportunities like playing leadership roles and that will not always be available. All that experience can create bottlenecks if teams’ goals and ambitions aren’t aligned.
A balance between junior and senior members will be better and will also increase developer retention as expectations and growth can be better managed.
3. Cost of running the team
Software development teams differ significantly from teams in other professions. They can work remotely, have flexible hours, and deepen their knowledge through continuous learning.
So if we can use these factors, we can try to optimize the associated costs.
Experience comes with a cost
As we’ve already discussed, there is a cost associated with finding someone experienced in a particular technology or domain. And since it’s not a binary choice to have all experience or none, we can also balance experience levels while considering the cost structure.
This is also another dimension to think about when managing the costs of software development teams.
However, multiple workstations can either increase or decrease the cost of your project.
If you have more than one workstation, you will have to pay bills and maintenance for each workstation and no doubt utility costs will increase.
But on the bright side, we can look for locations to attract more talent or have tax benefits. Additionally, if you find a job in a country where the cost of living is low, you can effectively cut costs.
Remote workers and outsourcing
So if you look at the other options available, you can either outsource your work to a remote worker or a company where costs are low.
However, there are some other challenges you should address if you want to make your distributed team effective.
- Increase the overlap
If your team works in different time zones, it’s good to have reasonable overlap whenever possible. This could be achieved either by shifting working hours or by setting times for collaboration.
2. Equalization of competences and division of labour
Also, there is a need to balance individual experience and split work to reduce dependencies across time zones.
3. Optimized processors
When working with remote teams or outsourcing, an appropriate set of processors is required (e.g. agile processors such as Scrum, Kanban). It will help align all team members towards the end goal.
As you can see, there are several ways to reduce costs by maximizing the result.
This article has discussed several factors you need to consider when deciding on the team structure for effective software development teams.
You have to make some of these decisions up front, so you don’t know what needs to be adjusted until the team gets rolling. Over time, it’s easier to see where changes need to be made, whether it’s cost or collaboration.