Roles In Software Development: How to Build A Championship Team
The most successful basketball teams over the past 25 years share a strong sense of teamwork, from the Chicago Bulls in the late 1990s, to the Lakers in the 2000s, and the Golden State Warriors (our hometown team!!) over the past decade.
People tend to focus so much on the star players that it becomes easy to forget that a team consists of more than just its starting lineup. The players have worked to be in the best possible shape with the help of teammates, coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, and other personnel. No matter how talented a team is, the players will struggle if the supporting staff is ineffective or fails to fulfill their duties.
It’s exactly the same in software development. It’s not just the core developers—other team members play significant roles in software development processes too. Throughout the development lifecycle, various roles and responsibilities are required for a successful delivery, from project managers to QA testers to HR personnel and more.
If you lead a startup or high growth software business, it is important to know the roles that contribute to a winning software development team. This guide will explain these roles and when you need them.
Building A Software Development Team: Where to Start
Before you begin hiring a bunch of different roles for your development projects, you first have to step back and determine the roles you need. Your choice of roles will be informed by the type of project you intend to develop, as well as the project management methodology you have adopted. For instance, you will not need mobile engineers if you are building a backend database that won’t be accessed on the go.
So in this section, we will explain the two more popular management approaches to give you a better perspective of the required roles in a software development team.
Traditional software development methodology
Traditional software development follows a chronological approach where all the steps in the development process are implemented sequentially. It is also known as the “waterfall” approach. This concept relies on an identifiable process and follows a pre-established plan.
The traditional method focuses on prioritization, upfront planning, documentation, and linear processes.
With the traditional approach, the development requirements are pre-determined and fixed, not allowing room for adjustment or improvement (though the schedule and budget can often be flexible). This has undermined the efficiency of the model, especially with regard to big projects.
As a result, the “traditional” approach to software development is not so traditional anymore many software leaders have moved away from it.
Agile software development methodology
The agile software development approach is based on continuous iteration, input, and improvement to ensure the best outcomes. Here, there are no strict development rules or predetermined activities. The development cycle is flexible to allow for adaptability and procedural advancement.
Agile management prioritizes teamwork, collaboration, and flexibility in contrast to a traditional method that heavily emphasizes upfront planning. It is an iterative method that encourages incorporating user feedback and frequent releases to respond to change swiftly.
Most companies and software development teams (about 86% to be exact!) adopt the agile method because it is highly adaptive, leading to a much better outcome. According to stats, agile projects have a 64% success rate. This is a clear win over the 49% success rate for the traditional method.
Software Development Teams: Setup & Onboarding
It requires deliberate effort and careful planning to create an all star team of software developers that can work well together and generate exceptional results. To this end, keep the following things in mind when you get ready to start building:
1. Team Setup
- Set clear business goals and KPIs:
It is important to set achievable goals and communicate the organization’s intention when forming your software development team. Ensure the goals you set are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed) goals and that everyone on the team is informed—not just about their individual KPIs, but what the product organization aims to achieve at the end of the project.
Doing this will ensure that the team members understand the product’s target and motivates them to work towards achieving it.
- Define project needs and requirements:
It is important to develop and define the needs and requirements of the software the team will be building. This includes what the product is expected to look like, how it functions, and all other features you want to see in the final version.
Having each member of your development team understand the requirements and needs of the product is the best way to avoid getting a result that does not conform with what you expect them to deliver.
- Cover all requirements with corresponding roles:
There are some roles that you simply must include in your development team members in order form an effective team. Some of the roles that will be needed include tech lead, product owner, core engineer, QA and DevOps, though the exact ones are dependent on your exact project needs.
It takes a combination of team members with various roles and responsibilities to succeed in your software development process, and making sure every player is in position will help your development success.
- Partner with leading offshore development companies like TurnKey:
It is also important to collaborate with offshore development companies that are designed to help you build a result-driven engineering team.
At TurnKey, our track record of building high performing, fully dedicated software development teams for clients speaks for itself. We even developed a unique approach called Yourshoring that ensures that you get a team of highly skilled developers that are a perfect fit for your company.
Yourshoring is not a technical term. Rather, it means a custom-fit solution of loyal developers that are fully committed to your success.
- Hire a diverse team:
When employing developers working on your project, it is important to pull together team members with varying backgrounds, experience levels, and cultural influences. This will help ensure that the team members offer different ideas and perspectives while working on your software development. Statistics show that organizations with diverse teams generate higher revenue than others.
- Automate the Process:
Many organizations and startups are increasingly implementing automation in their development process to enhance productivity and save time. In a recent survey, 79% of the respondents claim to use automation solutions to speed up decision-making for development and engineering activities. And in a different but related survey, software development executives ranked deploying automation as the second most important task in front of them..
All of this is to say that it’s important to include tools that will help your team members automate some important processes that free up some of their time. This will enable your developers to concentrate on more important work, increasing the development team’s velocity.
2. Member Onboarding and Culture Fit
When choosing team members for your software development team, It is important to make sure that candidates possess a few important traits that will help their performance and the eventual delivery of your product. These ideal characteristics include:
- An attitude of constant improvement.
- A sense of personal responsibility for their own performance and the team’s overall result
- Mutual respect for teammates
- Collaborative working style
Having members with these traits will enhance the team’s interpersonal relationships, promote synergy and collaboration, and ensure the ability to deliver a good product on time and on or under budget.
Software Development Teams: Key Roles
Your development team must fulfill certain functions, and the success of the team is determined by the contributions of each team member. Having each position filled with a great fit will help your team members feel supported as they work towards the product release.
But again, which roles to include is highly correlated to what software you are trying to build. Nonetheless, below is a list of some of the most common roles and corresponding responsibilities present on software development teams.
- Team Lead and Tech Lead
A team lead is responsible for organizing the team and making sure that all product milestones are hit. They control the day-to-day workflow and keep the team members on task. This role is often assumed by a developer who has evolved into –and aspires to have – a more management-level role.
In short, ultimate accountability for a given software release lies with the team lead.
- Product Owner
This is an individual who has extensive knowledge of how the product is expected to work. A product owner clearly understands the end user’s requirements and is usually involved in the entire development process so as to effect any required change on the product.
A product owner works to maximize the organization's business value and pays more attention to user journey optimization than specific lines of code. They are responsible for getting the user’s feedback and initiating new features.
- Project (or Product) Manager
A project manager helps coordinate the software development process. They are responsible for breaking down the entire workload into modules and assigning them to different team members with a specific deadline.
They also ensure effective communication between the development team and the client while ensuring the work is proceeding at the required pace.
Moreover, a project manager assists the team lead in managing the project delivery timing and works to solve any conflicting organization or technical issues that may spring up.
- Product (or Business) Analyst
A product analyst serves as an intermediary between the developer and the product owner by communicating the project’s requirements to the developer. They translate the business need of the product into a requirement that will guide the developer while working.
A product analyst understands the client’s requirements and conducts market research, competitor analysis, and customer evaluation to develop documentation of the product's features to meet the owner's business needs.
A product analyst is usually involved in the development process from the beginning to the end to ensure that the development team is building the required product to the business requirements. Depending on the budget for the development team, frequently the Product Owner will assume this job as well.
- Software Developers
There is no product without developers. They are the real builders of your project, using coding and programming languages to bring your products to life.
Software developers are categorized into two segments based on the roles and responsibilities of a software developer: front-end and back-end software developers.
Front-end software developers are responsible for developing the part of the software that is visible to the users. They also maintain effective communication with the business logic layer and provide the user with the greatest possible experience.
Back-end software developers build the data processing layer and all other parts of the software that the user does not access but are important in running the overall application.
- Software Architect
The software architect is responsible for designing how the software is expected to look and function, and defining the development standards that the developers are expected to follow while working on the project.
They also guide the development team on how to create important components of the software.
- User Experience (UX) Designer
UX designers are responsible for ensuring the product is user-friendly. To do this, they conduct user behavior analysis and mockups of what should be done to improve the user experience.
They ensure that the product's usability, performance, and functionality are good enough for an experience that exceeds expectations of the intended customer or end user.
- User Interface (UI) Designer
The task of the UI Designer is to create the software interface while adhering to customer specifications. They translate the work of the UX designer into more specific information, style, and visuals. This gives the developers a template that they can build around.
UI designers concentrate on the software's appearance and feel to make sure that its user interface is simple and intuitive enough to facilitate easy usage.
- Quality Assurance Engineer
A quality assurance engineer is responsible for designing tools that help to check the quality of work performed by the development team. In other words, they verify and validate that the software developed by the team is good enough to perform the required task(s) without error.
- Quality Assurance Testers
A tester's main work is conducting manual tests on the software delivered by the team. They carry out tests to detect any lapses that may impede the quality or proper functioning of the software. They report any findings to the development team so that they can fix the detected bugs or errors.
Testers are hugely important on a software development team as they allow you to check your software’s quality and help prevent negative user experiences or reviews.
How can TurnKey Help You Form the Perfect Software Development Team?
Building a perfect software development team can be challenging. You have to find experts with the requisite hard and soft skills, which is a very scarce resource. At TurnKey, live and breathe building great teams every day; we’re ready to partner with you to take much of this hard work off of your plate.
In fact, we took our own disappointing experiences using offshore teams when we had our own software companies, and used these pain points to develop a blueprint for the way that it should be.
We call our unique offshore approach Yourshoring.
Yourshoring focuses on your core needs and demands when building teams, not ours. We build custom teams that are a perfect match for your product needs and your company culture.
Here’s a quick summary of Yourshoring:
- We identify your development needs.
- We custom recruit the Top 3% of development talent that understands your needs and can deliver on time.
- We help you seamlessly integrate the new development team into your existing product organization.
- We provide ongoing HR support to dramatically reduce your churn rate.
And to be clear, this is a fully dedicated development team that you completely control. YOU are in charge both now and in the future. This is YOUR team, not ours.
Knowing the roles in software development is a critical step that determines the outcome of your project. Many things can go wrong if you hire the wrong roles for a development team,, from exceeding the timeline to overshooting your budget and, worse, releasing an inferior or flawed product.
Reach out to TurnKey—it’s our job to find you the right development team members with all the required roles you need. Send us a message today!
Software development teams can include as much as 7 to 12 different roles, but which specific positions you have on your team is ultimately driven by the core requirements of the software being built. Establish the core objective of the software, and then build your team around it.
Effective software development teams have the following traits in common: shared goals, a logical team structure, clear delineation of responsibilities, smooth communication, robust collaboration and efficient work processes.
A common software development team will consist of
- Team lead / Tech lead
- Product owner
- Project manager
- Business or product analyst
- UX / UI designers
- Software developers (backend and frontend)
- QA Engineers and/or Testers
- DevOps engineer