To build high-quality software products, you need a strong team of technology professionals. Unfortunately, with the tech talent shortage, this is easier said than done.
For startups, this can be even more challenging because of limited resources. So no matter how great an idea might be, without the right people in your team, the digital revolution is at risk of coming to a grinding halt.
To respond to the talent shortage, companies have been outsourcing their development needs both nearshore and offshore.
But regardless of whether you’re building products in-house, outsourcing it to an established third-party provider, or working in (hybrid) augmented teams, you have to take some important steps to select the right people for the job.
How should you go about it? Let’s take a look.
1. Identify Your Project Requirements
The first step in building the perfect IT team is to assess your business and project requirements. What are the present and (potentially) future demands of your development project?
Once you have the project requirements jotted down, you can start contemplating the type of professionals you will hire to build it. For example, if you’re developing a mobile app, you’ll need iOS and Android developers along with the five positions listed below.
2. Build a Team of an Appropriate Size
In general, most software development teams consist of the following professionals:
- 1 Project Manager
- 1 UI/UX Designer
- 1-2 Frontend Engineers
- 1-2 Backend Engineers
- 1 QA Manager
However, this isn’t set in stone and can change rapidly based on your project requirements.
The answer to this question is tricky. There’s no such thing as a “perfect size” for a development team, but it’s critical to note that large teams run the risk of becoming unproductive and disengaged.
This assertion is supported by what’s known as the “The Ringelmann Effect.” While having more people on a project can potentially increase productivity, studies have shown time and again that when you add more people, the productivity of the team can fall at an alarming rate.
In this scenario, the lack of direct responsibility and ambiguous ownership can lead to disengagement and social loafing. So when responsibilities are unbalanced, some employees will also have to work harder. This can lead to stress and unhappiness, which will also impact the whole team.
So what do you do?
You can follow Amazon’s Jeff Bezos’ two-pizza rule. According to the tech leader, if you can’t feed the whole team with two pizzas, then your team is too big.
Now you might be thinking that some people can eat a whole pizza by themselves (and you’ll be right). The amount of pizza an individual can eat is relative, but based on his theory, we’re basically talking about 5-7 people.
So if you’re currently working in a team much larger than that, it will be a good idea to try and split the team. At the same time, it’s important to note that having too many teams can become a nightmare for management.
So if that ever happens, it will be vital to have someone dedicated to the coordination of cooperation across teams. This approach will ensure that two teams don’t work on the same task at the same time.
3. Assign Roles and Responsibilities
Once you know what you need, it’s time to establish the roles within the team. Regardless of their expertise, you’ll have to make sure that your multidisciplinary team members are clear about your expectations.
These expectations should be challenging but attainable. Each person’s roles and responsibilities can also change during the project lifecycle. However, this must be put in writing and made clear during the switch.
You can also follow up and make sure that the individuals in the team are performing as desired. Those who are highly experienced in working in multidisciplinary teams will be quite used to this. They will seamlessly know where their responsibilities end and when others begin.
You’ll also need the following professionals to oversee the build:
- Team Lead (not to be confused with the Project Manager)
- Chief Architect
- Product Owner
4. Enhance Communication
Whether you outsource development, work in augmented teams, or handle all your development in-house, you have to encourage communication within the team.
Encourage them to use tools like Slack and TeamWork during each iteration. You can also engage in site visits and interviews to determine if the team is communicating well with you and each other.
Talk to them about similar projects they have worked on, how this project is progressing, and ask them for suggestions on how to improve the team and project deliverables.
Psychological compatibility is critical to developing high-quality digital products. So pay attention to how team members treat each other. As conflicts arise (and yes, they will), encourage a united team spirit and do whatever it takes to resolve these issues as they come up.
The best approach here is to create and sustain an environment where people are free and secure enough to discuss how they feel without repercussions. Furthermore, doing this will also help create an environment where ideas can flow more freely and easily.
You can manage small teams comprised of 5-7 individuals following either the Agile model or Waterfall. But if you’re going to manage several development teams, your only option is the Agile approach to project and team management.