Software development teams are not just developers and a CTO – they can be defined as tight knots of various skills crucial for a given phase of a project, possessed by various specialists. You cannot hope for any project to succeed when you do not have enough resources, can you? Well, it is time to realize that due to poorly chosen team structure and/or skipping on hiring nearly 60% of IT projects fail. Any top management must know that enough team members, well managed and trained, lead to an IT projects’ success.
What will you learn from this article? Well, our goal is to explain why some roles in a development team are important and necessary in the IT sector. In our description of each crucial role we will explain:
- What does this specialist do?
- What qualities do they need?
- When do you need them?
- When can you skip them?
- What happens when you decide to skip a particular role in a team?
Let’s discuss what a Business Analyst does, what challenges Product Owner deals with, who the right developer is, and why user experience specialists are so essential!
Building the ultimate software development team – How do you choose the right roles?
At Brainhub we know how important the roles and responsibilities are when you start building a software development team. Every person within an IT project has a specific, crucial role to play in order to give the best performance possible. Flawless projects do not exist, but with the right team of people “on board”, projects can be as close to perfection as possible, going smoothly and according to a plan.
Most importantly, people in a professional software development team have the right skills and are not afraid to take responsibility. It is also important that they:
- have respect for each other’s opinions, knowledge, experience, and ideas,
- bravely challenge the way they work to constantly improve: the performance/working process and cooperation with the rest of the team,
- are personally responsible for what they do and how it influences other team member’s performance.
Scroll down and become a conscious manager learning who is good to have in a software development team and why.
#1 Business Analyst – the translator
In short, Business Analysts (BAs) are responsible for translating business needs to requirements. They help businesses formulate business goals, and assist in defining the requirements during feasibility and foundations stages, sometimes even before the full development team is assembled.
What qualities a good BA needs? Well, a professional business analyst is never, ever shocked by the reality at work – this person has to have a strongly developed imagination to find the way in the labyrinth of different paths to reach the business destination, no matter what. This quality makes BAs stand out from other roles – changes, various ideas, and creativity are the bread and butter of this position together with the ability to deal with numbers and data. Assumptions must always be supported with analysis, so BAs should have a data-oriented mind.
Business Analysts are most needed when your Product Owner doesn’t have enough time to write requirements. They create documentation, comparing it with existing policies and procedures/protocols to meet quality requirements. They also get the software development team together to establish the best strategy, based on what stakeholders need.
Can you leave out the role of a BA? Well, this person is a professional and fully understands complex business processes from various perspectives, both financial and economic. If you have somebody on board with such qualities, make sure they have appropriate training and are able to adjust IT projects to create real business value. Make sure this person has the skills to support and constantly improve relations between the user and IT team so that the communication and understanding remain undisturbed, thus reducing chaos to a minimum.
#2 Product Owner – the ultimate decision-maker
A Product Owner in a software development team possesses great knowledge of the project and user, understands the client’s perspective and needs, and strives to achieve the vision and requirements in a final product/service.
A PO has to be flexible, creative, diligent and also analytical as their decisions must be based on ongoing business analysis and following market trends. They do everything to help the development team fulfill requirements in a fast-paced environment. Well, you cannot skip this role when building a development team if you want to avoid issues.
Product Owners work in the Agile methodology, are very flexible and accustomed to complex projects. They have to be able to work in an unstable environment where things are constantly in flux due to changing conditions, requirements and plans. There are companies that have more than one PO – it happens that a Chief Marketing Officer becomes the PO and the other way round – assuming they have the right skills.
A Product Owner is generally focused on delivering the best value possible. A project’s success lies in their hands, relying on priorities set upon a good understanding of business goals and client’s needs. If you want to achieve all this and more, remember to find the right product owner.
#3 Developer – the one who does the actual job
This role is indispensable, you always need a specialist in programming in a software development team, as a developer writes code and builds products. They are crucial in a product’s successful delivery and have to write decent, solid software.
What other traits you should look for? Good developers are always curious – follow trends and learn new things, mastering the skill that generally differentiates developers – the ability to teach themselves. A developer has to be a problem-solver, understanding both concepts and obstacles clearly, finding solutions and implementing them. They should also be able to ask the right questions that will boost the process of coding and sometimes be brave enough to say “no” or suggest better options whenever possible. Also, an important skill besides writing a coherent code is estimating the amount of time needed to deliver a given task.
On the one hand, when it comes to expertise, it is not the most vital factor while choosing developers. When fresh developers have a strong focus on learning, do it fast with a positive attitude and motivation – go for them. Sometimes fresh creativity may be precious for a project where you need many solutions. An experienced senior developer, on the other hand, feels confident in different projects demanding a wider approach. They feel comfortable in practices like agile development, know various task management software, are better in estimations and are not afraid of working in various environments.
We can say that the best option is to hire both experienced and fresh developers – they can perfectly complete each other’s skills and fill in gaps, influencing one another all the while.
#4 Quality Assurance Engineer – the nitpicker
A Quality Assurance Engineer verifies whether a developed solution meets the required specification, focusing on quality and designing documents to provide well-timed, useful feedback. A QA in a development team has to be a perfectionist with a strong focus on planning tests and test cases that should be detailed, structured, and well-knit.
The Quality Assurance Engineer’s main quality testing activities can be described as: prioritizing, estimating, planning, and coordinating tests. A great QA’s job is to determine, negotiate and mediate on quality processes, procedures, specifications, and standards. QAs also assess client requirements and make sure they are met.
As you may know, some clients value saving time and money over quality, so they push development team to write faster, tending to skip the QA phase (they treat it as “additional” bonus rather than a standard process). You need a QA when your solution must be robust and heavily tested. Thanks to the QA, you can save time and money that would otherwise be spent on improving unanalyzed, faulty code at later stages of development.
In fact, when it comes to the word QUALITY – everybody in a team is responsible for the job’s, management’s, or product’s quality, so it should not be avoided in any organization. Eliminating bugs, errors and mistakes means improved quality, client and user satisfaction, and product stability.
#5 User Experience Designer – the mind-reader
A user experience designer’s main task is to care about users’ experiences when interacting with the final product. To achieve satisfaction, a UX designer has to be empathetic, be aware of the users’ needs, and have knowledge of various techniques to check whether their design works for the target users.
A great UX designer has to be attentive to details, be able to easily notify, and fix user problems. Their creativity is helpful in solving various problems, understanding business goals, and looking at them from many different perspectives to find the best solution. This specialist’s work and decisions aren’t based on mere intuition, they are heavily researched and based on user studies.
The more experienced the UX designers are, the better their groundwork, ethics, and principles. On the technical side, a UX designer should have some standards and procedures together with using many different tools for testing and solving user problems.
What happens without a UX designer on board? It is important to have a good UX designer in a software development team when you want to know your users, their problems and needs. The main focus of this specialist is set on product usability and functionality.
Some people say that developers can also design systems, so there is no need to employ a UX. But, although a single developer might be able to fulfill a few roles simultaneously and successfully deliver a great product, having additional, more specialistic roles ensures better optimization of skills. In fact, we must have both roles in the team as they greatly complement one another and learn a lot when cooperating with their different perspectives. A UX and a developer work together to have a positive impact on a product’s design and development.
#6 User Interface Designer – the people-pleaser
A UI designer assumes and anticipates what users can do with a product, and what they need, expect and see. UIs are constantly ensuring that a product’s every element is easily accessible, understandable and clear through graphic and branding design. Generally, UI is about connecting user interactions, visual design, and information architecture together.
You need a UI designer when you want to build a custom user interface. Somebody who is able to sketch (no matter the tools) and is skilled in transforming ideas into mockups and prototypes will be the person you might want.
The ability to communicate ideas to other developers is also crucial for this role, as they have to show and explain, (e.g. by user guides) not just “tell”. A great UI understands the key foundations of UX design and is able to apply them to the graphic design of a product.
The more interesting and pleasing the product’s (eg. an app) design, the better the user experience is. When users can easily find their way around a product and do with it what they want, their satisfaction from using the product grows.
#7 Software Architect – the wizard
A Software Architect makes high-level design choices based on non-functional requirements and dictates coding standards together with tools and platforms. This person is also responsible for reviewing the code, ensuring the design’s quality, avoiding too much complexity and focusing on clarity.
A perfect Software Architect plays the role of a hybrid wizard that knows: programming, how to manage people, is interested in psychology, communicates ideas clearly and watches finances. The main quality, however, is responsibility. This person must provide technical support and know the requirements from the project’s beginning, through release, development, finishing at enhancements.
You need a software architect when there are complex non-functional requirements to solve and a need to implement changes. That is why the right software architect is crucial when it comes to high-quality projects. Generally, software architecture identifies the software’s model and function. When you have that, you can reuse it in the future, based on the experience you have gained.
Specialists in a software development team are crucial for the success of any project. They have to be skilled, versatile and eager to cooperate, exchanging knowledge and visions. The size of the team doesn’t matter, but the quality of the output does. Remember to specify what and how many specialists you need for a particular project, now having the knowledge from this article.
This article is a part of Handbook:Building a Software Development Team: From Hiring to Talent Development
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