For a product owner wanting to start an IT project, but having little or no experience in outsourcing software development, understanding all the different roles and responsibilities inside a project may be a challenge. This article is here to guide you and help you see how a proper development team structure makes working on a product a breeze.
Why Do You Need A Whole Software Development Team?
No one is a jack of all trades, so why should your team consist of one developer who says they can do it all? In a standard software development team, you’re most likely to meet at least four team members if your project is relatively small. Why is that?
New technologies, tools, and programming languages pop up in the world of software development every year. While at MPC we nurture our team members’ growth, it’s impossible for everyone to keep up with everything. Different responsibilities require different skill sets.
That’s why the software development company will give you a whole interdisciplinary, curated team of specialists dedicated to your product, from Project Managers to QA Engineers and supporting team members. This way, the development process will be effective up to the nines and you can expect top-notch quality results delivered on time. Not to mention you won’t be pulling your hair out at the lack of proper communication throughout the process of software project development.
Let’s move on to see a typical software development team structure in a software house like MPC.
Software Development Team Structure
At a glimpse: Project managers are the central points of a project and your guides. They make sure your product is developed within the agreed scope, deadline, and budget, taking care of all the work details for you.
Both the customer and the development team need a spokesperson who has the best interest of the project at heart. Project Manager is one of the most important software development team roles, as they’re the person with a whole lot of responsibilities.
Project management is probably the most agile of all roles inside a software development team. Depending on the business needs and resources of the product owner, they can share their expertise in various areas, but they always are the guardians of the scope, deadline, and budget applicable to the project. They also actively work with the software development team, acting as their Scrum Master for Scrum-based projects, making sure they are motivated, stay within the chosen methodology, work up to the highest standards, and meet the client requirements.
An experienced person in this role will quickly identify potential pain points and address them early on. These people take care of all the different roles and responsibilities inside the project and solve both trivial and crucial problems, such as a team member falling sick or a key tool not working properly. They make sure product owners and software developers understand each other well and stay on the right track to project success.
Don’t be fooled – a proper software development agency will never let the project manager be the only person in the team that you can speak to. MPC’s teams don’t exclude any role from client contact. Product owners are free to call the engineers and use their expertise anytime.
Tools & Technologies we use to manage projects: Jira, Asana, Slack, Google Meet, Skype, Google Docs, Markup.io, GitHub, Sharepoint Group Calendar.
At a glimpse: Product Designers bring ideas into visuals that are friendly for the end-users while giving optimal user experience and high conversion rates.
Product Designer is sometimes dubbed as UX Designer or UI Designer (or UX/UI Designer who combines both roles). Early in the project, they’ll run a workshop to help you chisel your project and turn it into an end product that thrives.
While these specialists are often perceived as graphic artists that create breathtaking application and website designs, there’s so much more to this role! Designers are greatly responsible for your product’s success, as they envision its interface and bring it to life for end-users to enjoy. UI Designers translate your business goals into functioning user journeys and then create wireframes and final designs that act as a guide for the tech team.
UX Designer role requires user-testing skills and experience in business details of the project (however, a business analyst may be of help here if needed). If needed, they can later evaluate and enhance the product to better suit the current needs of your users.
Tools & Technologies we use to design products and run workshops: Typeform, Google Optimize, HotJar, Miro, Draw.io, Figma, AdobeXS, Illustrator, Zeplin
At a glimpse: Content Writers are the wizards of the written word, from simple buttons and CTAs to elaborate product descriptions.
Some software development teams include a Content Writer ready to prepare engaging content for your project based on your guidelines, benchmarks, and materials.
Core responsibilities of a Content Writer include writing clear and precise messages, statements, and pieces of information that will be visible to the end-users. They may also work alongside Product Designers to establish the best structure and layout for the end outcome, or join the software engineer team and QA team to prepare documentation. A Content Writer can also be a person with SEO skills and UX writing knowledge.
Tools & Technologies we use to create content: Google Docs, Hemingway, Surfer, Mangools, Ahrefs, Semrush, UberSuggest, AnswerThePublic, StudyCrumb
At a glimpse: A Solution Architect defines the solutions that’ll best suit your business idea.
A Solution Architect has a robust technical knowledge to convert IT projects into well-oiled machines of technologies and tools. They work on introducing the overall technical vision for the product both to you and the team, closing the communication gap between business teams and software engineers. The scope of this vision includes technology stack, databases, patterns, and standards.
These specialists will join the team early on and help gather the requirements and needs. Then, they’ll propose technical solutions, patterns, and standards that’ll address them, setting the path to software that has the necessary functionalities and stays in line with quality, security, and maintenance norms. Among the responsibilities of a Solution Architect, you’ll also find fitting the new product in the existing architecture, if the customer needs it.
Solution architects are familiar with Scrum & Agile methodology, and usually have a software development project background and expertise in commercial projects. They also show communication and leadership skills and may be perceived as team leads of sorts. You’ll usually find them at the top of the technical team structure. However, a person in this role is not to be confused with a Software Architect, who focuses on a narrower tech perspective and specifies the structure and behavior of an agreed-upon system.
At a glimpse: Front-end software developer is responsible for the interactive part of your application that’s available to your end-users.
The proper software development team structure consists of a few kinds of developers with different roles and responsibilities. Front-end Developers are in charge of translating the mockups prepared by the Product Designer into code.
This part of the process can’t be overemphasized: front-end software developers have the knowledge needed to ensure a smooth, user-friendly experience for all people using your app.
What’s more, these team members are responsible for creating a uniform experience for all people using the solution, regardless of their chosen browser, screen resolution, and device. To ensure top-notch quality of front-end development, a key factor at this stage is mutual code review.
At a glimpse: WordPress Developers have all the expertise needed for a WordPress-based application.
WordPress Developers are somewhat hybrids of other software development team roles. They have a background both with front-end and back-end, which allows them to build complete WordPress applications including WordPress themes and WordPress security plugins from start to finish. It makes them a kind of Full-stack Developers.
A WordPress developer has expert knowledge in this CMS, including its many plugins, and the ability to write extensions to these plugins without the need to modify the source code. This role is versatile for smaller projects that don’t require an extensive team structure.
Tools & Technologies we use for WordPress development: Headless WordPress, PHP, MySQL, Elementor
At a glimpse: Back-end Developers build efficient under-the-hood solutions and provide a high level of database competence.
No software development team is complete without a Back-end Developer. They’re the whisperers of databases, data operations, app behavior, and more – basically, they’re in charge of everything that people don’t see while using the software, but makes them able to do it in the first place.
Out of all strictly technical developer roles, this one involves the most problem solving. Back-end Developers write more than code – they integrate databases, API, and external software while keeping a stable, secure environment. Most teams use their expertise for client consultations, as they’re able to propose fast and trustworthy solutions that’ll be the most efficient for the particular business case. If a development team was a college class, back-end developers would probably be the ones who know more than the professor (and aren’t afraid to show it).
Tools & Technologies we use for Back-end development: Node.js, Laravel, Symfony, MySQL, Postgres, MongoDB, Microservices, Architecture
At a glimpse: Tech Leader is like a tutor or a consultant with high-level competence in various technologies and leadership skills.
Complex projects mean more roles and responsibilities inside the team. Tech Leaders can advise on sophisticated technical issues or help with more complicated code review, but if a project needs it, they can act as technical team leads of sorts.
In most tech companies, this role is usually filled with the most experienced software development team member who represents leadership and management skills. Tech Leaders coordinate the development process, manage the sub-teams, and may be familiar with Scrum processes for optimal management. This is definitely one of the most powerful software development team roles – but one that comes with a huge responsibility.
Tools & Technologies Tech Leaders use: PhpStorm, WebStorm, SSH, AWS
At a glimpse: Quality Assurance Engineer tests the product, looks for bugs and oversees the development process to check for quality.
Each software development team improves with QA. Nobody’s perfect, and while developers help each other with code review and constantly learn new ways of securing their code, an extra pair of eyes can never hurt. But the QA team does much more than just manual testing of what the tech team has built. Their job is crucial in delivering high-quality software that meets all the pre-defined requirements.
QA Engineers look after the entire process of product development and its scope, including time-sensitive tasks such as reporting or updating the job statuses. Like in manufacturing, QA team is responsible for implementing and upholding quality standards and continually improving them. They may also identify UX issues and perform all kinds of app tests, from performance to security and penetration tests. On top of that, they write automated tests.
At a glimpse: DevOps specialists maintain the app’s infrastructure, ensuring high performance, top-notch security, and proper deployment.
Having experience in backend development and analytical approach, DevOps work on automating the processes of building and delivering software. They create and maintain a stable environment for your website to be accessed, upgraded, and to survive any activity spikes or worst-case scenarios. DevOps are skilled in using scalable cloud services that are also cost-optimized. They use various methods to ensure fast loading times.
This position may be considered as the last step in software development, as they work on proper deployment processes and often are involved in the last stage of a project. But in fact, their job should start early on by helping with setting up the local environment, optimize the software building process, and manage the security infrastructure or make sure there’s a proper backup procedure in place. They’re valuable assets to software development teams.
Tools & Technologies DevOps use: AWS, GCE, Azure, Docker, Puppet, Jenkins, CI/CD, Linux, Kubernetes
Agile Software Development Team
The above is a standard structure of a software development team. Depending on the scale and complexity of your project, team members can be added or removed, so don’t feel confused if the potential partner offers you less than what’s listed here. The key is to look for a company that represents Agile values and puts an emphasis on transparency.
When partnering with a company with these qualities in mind, you’re gaining the most out of software development outsourcing: flexibility, transparency, goal-oriented team, and excellent communication patterns. Those are precisely the factors that could make or break your project.
Look for an agile software development team that uses Scrum or Kanban to manage work and brings attention to effortless, constant communication. MPC hires English-speaking professionals who are keen to discuss any issues anytime, without the Project Manager acting as the sole messenger in the team. We aim for clear team roles and responsibilities but support a T-shaped team model where everyone knows a bit about everything and is an expert in their preferred field.
The diagram above illustrates the most common software development team roles. Feel free to use it as your guide into different team roles and responsibilities as you look for your own team of professionals!