When you Google ‘How to organize software development teams’, you will find thousands of search results.
With all this information, it can be hard to narrow down the results and find the ones that work the best.
We have done that work for you.
This post assembles the very best practices of organizing software development teams to give you a brief yet comprehensive guide for software project team management.
You may wonder ‘my company is already doing a great job at managing teams.’ But know that even the most organized teams sometimes fail due to small miscalculations.
As a manager, you have a crucial responsibility to improve efficiency and increase productivity through innovative technology solutions that can guarantee results even in highly competitive climate. And for that, you have to work with people from diverse backgrounds and expertise and manage them across different subgroups.
Now how to do that?
Understand what makes software development teams ‘Effective’
When it’s time to organize software development teams, you need to understand what defines an ‘effective’ team.
Usually, the most effective software development teams are multi-disciplinary and cross-functional.
Most effective teams:
- Actively work to remove communication gaps that can directly impact their understanding of the project or the roles and duties of other team members.
- Maintain a mutually supportive work environment where team members understand each other and supplement each other’s efforts.
- Rely on flexible methodologies and constant change to reap the best possible results for the project.
In other words, ‘effective’ teams are usually agile in nature.
How to Organize Software Development Teams in 3 Steps
Your plan should include the following 3 steps. Remember to create a structural plan that can create a balance between environment, communication, and productivity.
1. Outline Project Requirements
Software development projects are complex. Therefore, many of today’s software development teams rely on agile software development.
Outlining the project requirements is super important as it will help you understand the team, budget and timeline requirements. In addition, the requirements will highlight the resources required to fulfill those requirements within the timeline.
The team must have a clear direction, reasonable expectations, and an action plan. As a project manager, outlining the requirements will give you the chance to define that action plan.
2. Define Software Project Team – Roles and Responsibilities
Typically, a software development team includes the following roles:
- Project Manager: Responsible for developing a project plan, recruit right resources, lead, monitor and manage teams, determine the methods and technologies to be utilized, and assign tasks to project team members.
- Functional manager: Functional managers are responsible for working closely with the team members, ensuring project growth and manage ongoing responsibilities for the project.
- Business Analyst: They are responsible for assisting the team members in gathering the requirements for the project and verify project deliverables to ensure that they meet the client requirements.
- QA Manager: Quality assurance manager works with other QA staff such as Functional Analyst and Solutions Architecture to verify that the product meets the client’s requirements.
- Change manager: This role usually includes a group of decision-makers who decide about the budget, requirements, and timeline of the project.
- Process Analyst: The main responsibilities in this role include process review and improvement, relationship management, and product documentation and support.
- Test Engineer: The primary job responsibility of the test engineer is to evaluate the text cycles to monitor the consistency of the outcomes.
- Developers/Programmers: Every sub-team can have its own developer or programmer who is responsible for completing the development tasks of the team.
- Subject Matter Expert: These experts are specialists in specific domains and lend their expertise to the specific aspects of the development.
Check out detailed roles and responsibilities of a software development team here.
Ideally, you would arrange your teams according to skill set and assign multiple tasks. For example, you can group your developers into three categories:
- Data tier: SQL Server architects, C++ and Visual Basic developers, and stored procedure developers.
- Presentation tier: HTML, XSL and DHTML developers, ASP developers, Java Developers, and Visual Basic developers.
- Business tier: C++ and Visual Basic developers, MSMQ experts, Server integration specialists, and XML Schema developers.
The categories should be defined based on the application development lifecycle to ensure that the right skills and expertise are utilized for the specific aspect of the development process.
3. Project Team Structure
The structure is crucial in order to organize software development teams for a successful plan implementation.
Software development teams work best when they are structured in small sub-teams. There are 3 basic types of team structures that you can choose from, namely:
- Generalist: Teams managed under this structure have a wide-ranging expertise. These teams work on the end-to-end development of projects.
- Specialist: These teams work on projects that require subject matter expertise or have something that aligns well with their specialties.
- Hybrid: In a Hybrid structure, a sub-team consists of both generalists and specialists.
‘Effective’ teams are Hybrid in nature where different specialists work together to solve the complexities of the project for timely delivery.
Development team structure
Each sub-team can have its own project/team manager who reports to an overall project manager.
- Always divide the team into sub-teams with team leader or managers.
- Keep operations separate from the development. Operational issues can ruin the developmental productivity.
- It is ideal to have different teams for operations, development/design, and testing.
- Avoid assigning too many team leads; appoint the most experienced person to be the team leader and have him report to ONE project manager.
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