Development Team: Structure, Roles, & Responsibilities

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Rafael Timbó
Rafael Timbó
Chief Technology Officer

Table of Contents

Learn how to build a successful, high-performing software development team, including its structure, roles, and responsibilities.
Published on
September 5, 2023
Updated on
May 29, 2024

A software development team plans, creates, tests, and releases new software and modules. Each role must collaborate with others to ensure all tasks are completed according to stakeholders' expectations and released on time. Accordingly, managers and C-suite executives must properly organize their software development teams for optimal composition.

This article provides an overview of a high-performing software development team's structure, roles, and responsibilities. It also explains how Revelo can help you build solid engineering teams by hiring skilled software engineers to join your team.

Development Team Structure

Software development team structures significantly impact entire projects, so hiring for the right tech roles is paramount to the team’s success. If you don't choose the right structure for your project, your product may not attract the audience it deserves. For instance, if you only hire a high-end user interface (UI) designer but don't have any user experience (UX) experts, your app may have gorgeous menus and animations but a clunky UX that fails to meet most users' needs. 

Here are the three most common types of development team structures. 

Generalist Team Structure

Generalist teams consist of professionals who understand the software product as a whole. Each member has experience in many software development fields, but none have deep expertise in a specific niche. As a result, they may have difficulties handling projects that require specialized knowledge. 

Consider hiring a generalist if you need team leads who understand several industries, have the ability to understand your company and provide alternative solutions, and are familiar with the latest trends and methodologies.

Specialist Team Structure

Specialist teams consist of professionals who are experienced in specific niches. Unlike generalists, they are unfamiliar with general development issues. Companies may want to hire specialist teams to perform specific tasks, such as C++ or Java programming. Collaborating with a specialist development team may lead to shorter development timeframes.

Hybrid Team Structure

Hybrid teams consist of generalists and specialists. The generalists focus on general development issues and meeting timelines, while the specialists focus on highly specialized tasks within their expertise. This mixture is usually the go-to structure for software development companies. 

Development Team Roles and Responsibilities

To create a successful product, you must fill specific roles within the team. Here's a summary of each development team member's responsibilities.

Product Owner

If you're an in-house team, the product owner is you: specifically, your company. However, the product owner is your client if you simply manage a software development company. The product owner sets the vision of what the final product should do and how it functions. It also determines the needs of the end users. In other words, the client sets the project standards and specifications.

Product Manager

A product manager is essentially the project manager, supervising the development process and its market entry. To accomplish this, product managers generate ideas for market entry, manage pricing policy, plan and control tasks, and set goals and metrics to achieve the company's objectives and targets. They're involved in analyzing industry, market, and competitor trends to ensure the product's competitiveness. 

Other specific responsibilities of a product manager include:

  • Closely collaborating with software developers and tech leads, team leaders, marketing specialists, sales representatives, the C-suite, and stakeholders
  • Holding meetings with all team members and ensuring team members know what's expected of them
  • Accepting and rejecting product and marketing ideas
  • Maintaining documentation
  • Facilitating and encouraging the implementation of new software or modules

Software Architect

The software architect is an experienced software developer who creates the technical standards of the software development lifecycle (SDLC). They are responsible for choosing the proper tech stack, platforms, and tools. They are also involved with helping design hardware architecture and the coding environment.

Software Developer

Also known as product engineers, software developers use their programming skills to create software. They follow the guidelines established by the product owner. They are also responsible for creating proper software documentation, and developing updates and upgrades, and resolving issues for existing software.

UX/UI Designer

UX and UI designers ensure that end users have positive experiences when using the software. They guarantee that menus, buttons, and other UI/UX components are user-friendly and match your brand design and colors. They also help the product owner conduct market research and user interviews.

Quality Assurance (QA) Engineer

A QA engineer or analyst identifies bugs, system flaws, and other software issues in your product before it is released to the public. They also confirm that your products or services meet company and industry standards. Other duties include overseeing product problem resolutions, running software compatibility tests, and driving product improvements. 

Scrum Master

If your company follows the Scrum project management or Agile methodology, you must have a Scrum Master. Scrum Masters help the team understand Scrum practice and theory, hold meetings and practice servant leadership. They also assist the product owner with facilitating stakeholder collaboration, establishing empirical product planning, and finding effective task and product goal management techniques.

Business Analyst

Business analysts derive actionable business insights from company data. They can then collaborate with you and the C-suite to recommend changes at the company. They can identify issues affecting any part of a company, including staff development, IT processes, and organizational structures.

Managing a Development Team 

Once you've established a clear structure and defined software development team roles, you must understand the ins and outs of managing a software development team.

Managers and C-suite members typically manage software application development teams. In many ways, software development team management is just like leading a non-tech team. You don't need to understand programming to understand how your hires get work done — just observe them at work and ask every team member about common roadblocks, best practices, and their preferred tech stacks. 

The following are several questions a manager should consider when observing their development team:

  • Can the team meet the project deadlines? If not, why?
  • What are the main barriers to productivity? How can we remove them?
  • Are certain team members not getting along? What are their conflicts of interest? How can I (the manager) mediate to resolve those problems and perform a tech team health check to ensure we reach our common goals?

When managing software development teams, you're also responsible for the following general duties:

  • Practicing servant leadership: Good managers practice servant leadership to earn respect from team members. Servant leadership also promotes trust between employees and leaders by making team members feel valued and showing them you are looking out for their interests.
  • Clearly defining and mapping expectations: Clearly define the scope and timeframe of software development by storing instructions in a centralized hub in your project management tool. This will ensure everyone's on the same page and knows what to work on.
  • Prioritizing tasks: Developers' to-do lists can become bloated and overwhelming. To help team members stay on track, you can use project management software to assign tasks based on priority. You should also use the tool to reassign work when needed.
  • Monitoring real-time updates: Finally, you should use your project management software's real-time reporting capabilities to analyze your team's output. Use these reports to spot gaps in resourcing, manage due dates or conflicting tasks, and better understand your team's holistic bandwidth.

How to Build a Successful Software Development Team

Now that you know how to manage a software team, here's what to look for when building a successful, high-performing team.

Determine Project Size & Budget

Your project size and budget will affect your software development team's structure and size. If you have a small budget and project scope, aim for a small generalist or hybrid team of freelance developers with a wide range of skills. Freelance developers charge per hour or project, so you don't have to pay them annual salaries. 

Alternatively, if you have a large budget and project, look for a large generalist, specialist, or hybrid team of dedicated or in-house developers. Dedicated software development teams are hired for a particular project, during which they work full-time. Because they work longer hours than freelancers, they tend to cost more. However, they still charge less than in-house developers who work full-time for your company — even when you don't have any projects for them. You should only hire in-house developers if you have a steady flow of projects for developers to work on.

Look for Complementary Skills

Hiring team members and tech leads with complementary skills can help you achieve a project's objectives more effectively and efficiently. For example, if you're creating a mobile app, you should hire:

  • A Scrum Master to ensure everyone understands and follows Scrum principles
  • A Java back-end developer to create the back-end of the app
  • A React front-end developer to create the front end of the app
  • UI/UX designers to create an appealing UI and UX for end-users
  • A business intelligence analyst to derive valuable insights from company data. UI/UX designers and front-end developers can then use this information to refine the app's front end.

Establish Open Communication

Communication is critical when managing a development team. If team members don't receive messages on time or lose access to messages, they won't be able to meet project criteria. To ensure everyone receives timely messages, use a centralized project management platform to store and share information in one hub. Consider tagging important messages so team members know which to focus on.

Build Your Development Team With Revelo

Finding the right team members and building a perfect team can be challenging. It's especially challenging if you don't know where to find talent or have limited HR resources.

Revelo can help you build a team from scratch or add developers to your existing team. As Latin America's premier tech talent marketplace, we provide access to a vast developer talent pool. Our developers have been rigorously screened for English proficiency and over 100 skills, including Ruby, React.js, React Native, iOS development, and C++. After you interview and hire our developers, we also help handle onboarding, payroll, and benefits, so you can continue managing your team and growing the business.

Contact us to hire experienced developers to optimize your software development team's overall performance today.

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