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How to nail the software development team structure? Purrweb’s Guide

When you collaborate with a software development team, sometimes you can think they speak a different language 😅 Strange abbreviations like PO, PM, PMM, and terms like Kanban or Scrum are always slipping from the tip of their tongues. No worries, we have got you covered! At Purrweb, we have been working as a web development team since 2014. Throughout this time we have tried several approaches to building an effective team until we found out what works for us. In this article, we will share our experiences of creating a software development team structure in a startup and explain what approaches in Agile management exist Learn about the essential people who work on your project, get tips on picking your perfect team, and avoiding any mistakes. Let’s dive in!

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software development team structure — guide
Table of contents

    3 common types of teams in Agile

    First things first: be a team and communicate well is the core of the Agile approach to web development. While the traditional approach was based on individual performance, big teams, and distinct job roles, the agile software development team structure is elastic and interchangeable.

    Ideally, there are 3 ways to structure a team in Agile management. Let’s break them down!

    software development team structure

    Generalists 

    Members of such agile teams hacked multitasking and can literally do anything! They have a rich skillset and are juggling several roles, but never dig deeper. For example, a generalist can code and bring to life the visual elements on the frontend, and, at the same time, support the backend and structure the cycle between a client and a server.

    Works for: small teams, technically simple software development projects, and tight timelines.

    Specialists 

    In contrast to generalists, these guys are not universal soldiers. Instead, they are experts and geeks in a way that only they know how to do their job perfectly and can’t exchange tasks with other members. In agile teams of this type, everyone works individually on software development and it may cause a communication loop between departments.

    Works for: complicated and revolutionary projects that create an innovative product and require profound knowledge.

    Hybrid team 

    This type is a combo team that unites both generalists and specialists under the same roof. As you might guess, having such a software development team structure is costly and not time-efficient, as it requires a lot of time and human resources to connect people. However, this approach can bring high-quality software development to big complex projects — studies definedhttps://www.researchgate.net/publication/249703186_Hybrid_Agile_Development_and_Software_Quality it in the 2000s and our experience proved it.

    Works for: large-scale projects with big budgets.

    How it works at Purrweb

    The 3 types of the Agile team structure exist only in textbooks. In reality, every workgroup is a complex and dynamic microorganism that has a diverse set of employees as well as its own rules.

    When it comes to our company, Purrweb’s web development team strategy is to have versatile team members that fully represent our expertise. We have both universal soldiers and profound experts in-house who are focused and meticulous but also know how to adjust. Over time, we managed to build fast and clear communication within the company, and we gladly work with any projects no matter their size or budget.

    Also, part of our approach is to invest in people and to give team members an opportunity to grow. For example, someone can join us as a general specialist and narrow down their expertise. Or another way around, if our team members want to try to develop new skills and take more roles and responsibilities in sales, finances, marketing, we always support and encourage them.

    Key roles in the software web development team

    After you get the idea of the main team structures, the next step is to find out who is who on the web development agile team. The classic scheme is the following:

    • product owner
    • project manager 
    • account manager 
    • UI/UX designers
    • software developers
    • quality assurance (QA) engineers

    software development team structure

    Product owner (PO)

    This role is to have the best idea of what the final version will look like. Product owners always got answers when the team had questions about the idea and the software development plan. Who can be the most reliable product owner in an agile team? Sometimes clients!

    Account manager

    The main responsibility of account managers is to communicate with a client and foster a long-term relationship. They accompany the whole process, chat with clients, give them reports and updates about software development, as well as wish happy birthdays and ask how their dog is doing.

    For the account manager, the main KPI is the client’s satisfaction. In some companies, a director is also an account manager to some key clients.

    Project manager (PM)

    Also known as a scrum master, and process guru! This role is a mediator of the mobile, web development, and software development processes. They connect the team with a product owner and check that the workflow hasn’t been disrupted from the team side. When the development process is ongoing, tasks keep flooding and it is easy to miss one or to overlook the deadline. If something does not go according to an initial plan, it is the PM’s responsibility to find out what happened and how to prevent the situation from repeating itself.

    If you hear someone saying ‘we need to speed up’, ‘we need to evaluate risks first’, ‘that’s not how the process works here’ — you probably run into a project manager.

    UI/UX

    These guys wake up in the morning and the first thing they think of is a customer. They jump in during the web development stage and make sure the interface of the solution is easy to navigate and clear. The agile team includes UI and UX experts, as well as UI/UX copywriters that know how to build a good readable text and manage to fit an important note into a small short push-notification. 

    Software developers

    These team members are in charge of tasks related to the mobile and web development, testing, and quality monitoring of the software.  The development team’s role is to execute applications based on the technical requirements and the software architecture. Usually, one project requires several software development warriors of different skill levels — those who work on the front and on the back, or full-stack who can develop both.

    QA engineers

    Quality assurance engineers or, simply, testers, are crucial people on the agile team. They look for bugs during the development stage, get rid of them in a blink of an eye and, overall, make sure that a solution works correctly on every step of the software development process.

    How it works at Purrweb

    We made some mistakes and learned a lot before we figured out how to structure a team according to the Agile approach.

    At Purrweb, we figuratively entrust the role of product owners to our clients, because they always know better. No worries, you will not work for us 😅 When a client comes to us, they have an idea, and we have expertise. So, to be a ‘product owner’ will mean to answer our questions about the idea and say the last word, considering our concepts, suggestions, and advice. It will not require a lot of time to stay involved in a process, and you can participate as much as you want to. 

    Yes, there was a time when we didn’t have an account manager and the process was chaotic. First communication would happen with a sales manager, then they would pass it on to project managers, who would be responsible for both team and clients. It took us some time to grow and realize what we missed out on. Now we have team members who work as both sales and account managers and take care of all communications with clients, while project managers are focused on inside processes of software development and collaborate with Purrweb’s team members.

    In terms of designers, we currently have two of them on each project. They collaborate with each other and share their expertise + we have designer leads that teach newcomers and supervise projects on the design concept for software development.

    Finally, at Purrweb, the team of developers also has their own team lead who manages the web development process and supervises intermediate results. Also, we prefer to teach and up bring newbies and turn them into the full-stack side of web development 😈. All jokes aside, but when a developer can work on both client-side and server-side ends, it is time-efficient and beneficial for the project’s budget.

    How to know you deal with an effective software development team structure

    When you meet an agile team, how do you know that the web development with them will be professional, dedicated and that will bring high-quality results? We heard this question a lot!

    There are several things to ask and look for when you outsourcing software development:

    • Do they communicate with each other and resolve conflicts? As we said before, communication is the key to the success of an agile team. Emotions and clashes are inevitable when you work together in any field, software development included, but healthy well-organized teams have tools to solve problems and work on misunderstandings. Don’t be hesitant and simply ask ‘How well do you guys communicate?’ Or question what tools the team uses to stay up-to-date on the work process. If the answer is anywhere between Slack, Jira, or Targetprocess, you are on the right path.
    • Do they have distinct job roles and a clear well-organized team structure? The main rule of a great agile team is to have an order — chaos should not be their middle name. Each member has to be aware of what they are supposed to do in software development and where to seek help or expertise if they need one. To check it, you can just ask a team what their workflow looks like, who is responsible for each step, and who you can question about interim results.
    • Do they work toward a collective goal? Most agile teams don’t need old-school vertical management and strict supervision, because they share goals and what they fight for on a daily basis. For example, at Purrweb, our aim is to help startups test their business ideas quickly, and if you ask any of our 100 team members, they will tell you that!
    • Are they able to work independently?. The same thing, in software development strict surveillance of mobile or web development does not do any good to a client or a team. From the client-side, it takes a lot of time that startuppers do not usually have. For teams, control can be discouraging and kill creativity. Long story short, a good agile team can work independently, without being forced to do anything.

    Long story short

    At Purrweb, over time we managed to build a strong professional team using the Agile flexible approach. We can’t say if we have the type, but we certainly found what works the best for us and what makes web development the most effective. 

    Our team builds web, mobile and desktop solutions with a focus on robust UI/UX design. We are a full-cycle team, meaning we have on-site developers, UX designers and copywriters, QA engineers, and project managers, so you don’t have to hire anyone else to complete a comprehensive MVP. 

    Want to meet our team and get help with validating your startup idea? Get in touch with us today!

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