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Extending dedicated teams

Team Role Definitions and The Project’s Scope

Jan 28, 2019

Dedicated Teams approaches to ensure outstanding innovative development.

Dedicated teams are the preferred outsourcing and outstaffing approach for industry-leading enterprises. It enables rapid scaling of internal IT departments and prevents excessive headhunting and HR expenses. However, dedicated teams’ structure and size varies depending on the project’s scope, industry, and deadline. To ensure mutual understanding between the IT vendor and the client, Computools experts have devised a comprehensive guide to dedicated team roles.

The Dedicated Team Roles For Various Development Models

IT vendors employ various development models and methodologies, depending on the client’s requirements, goals, and deadlines, as well as in-house expertise and experience. To ensure efficient workflow, software engineering teams share the tasks according to their roles. The team members’ roles describe their duties and competences necessary to perform them.

The list of roles within the dedicated team depends on the development model employed by the IT vendor. Traditional development team usually comprises developers, testers, designers, analysts, and project managers.

Development roles in traditional and agile development approaches

Agile development teams showcase diversity of roles, as their approaches differ. For example, Scrum Master is a role reminiscent of a Project Manager, but specific to the Scrum methodology. Scrum Master oversees the development team, communicates with a client and  senior management, while enforcing the rules and practices of the Scrum approach. In the Extreme Programming, it is a Coach that fulfills similar functions, overseeing the project and detecting possible troubles, while also transferring the information and experience between team members.

For the project purposes, one team member can fulfill several roles. Some roles may be suppressed, depending on client’s requirements and project’s scope. Regardless of the development approach, most projects would in one form or another include the following roles:

– Project Manager;
– Business Analyst;
– Solutions Architect;
– Team Lead;
– Developer;
– Quality Assurance Specialist;
– Deployment Specialist;
– Training Specialist.
 

Dedicated Team Roles For A Small-Scale Project

Small upgrades to existing products and applications, as well as MVPs or other small-scale projects with a limited budget can be implemented by a one- or two-person team. In this case, the developer or the designer would take on additional roles and perform the tasks of project management, quality assurance, deployment, and more. However, the timeframe of the project may be extended, since a single person cannot work as quickly as a team of five. Regardless of additional tasks, designer and developer remain the primary roles for small-scale projects.

Developer

The developers’ priority is to transform algorithms and specifications into code to be executed by computers, mobile or IoT devices. Besides the knowledge of the programming language structures and syntax, experienced software engineers possess an understanding of the development process and can identify potential weaknesses and offer improvement options at the earliest stages of the project. Software development expertise is also defined by the ability to assess possible solutions to the problem and identify the most straightforward and efficient way to achieve necessary results.

Specialization is an important factor to consider when selecting for the particular project a developer from the available talent pool. Specialization covers software engineer’s experience with particular languages and frameworks, as well as development approaches for complex tasks, like database access implementation, systems integration, data processing, and so on.

The critical aspects of UX and UI design
 

UI/UX Designer

While UX and UI Design are different, most designers combine these roles. User experience design takes care of a customer’s macro-interactions while navigating an application or a website. Micro-interactions are the focus of user interface design, prioritizing layout, interactive elements, grids and other elements of visual design.

A UI/UX designer fulfilling a combined role is responsible for interactive and visual elements of the project, as well as for its usability, utility, and desirability. Experienced designers rely on customer personas, user stories and their analysis to develop a user-centric experience that conforms to the corporate style and image. Getting a UI/UX designer to develop an MVP prototype is often the cheapest and fastest way to raise investment.

Dedicated Team Roles For A Medium-Scale Project

Dedicated team roles for a medium-scale project

A two-person team cannot handle projects that require in-depth business analysis, multiple developers cooperation, and flawless quality. Unlike MVPs, medium-scale projects require more technical and non-technical roles. And while the smallest project would benefit from their participation, its budget  could not afford to accommodate adding a project manager, a business analyst or a quality assurance specialist to the team. Each of these roles comes with a specific skill set, requirements, and duties that ensure the ultimate success of the project. Computools teams working on medium-sized projects usually include.

Business Analyst

Business (or functional) analysts bridge the understanding gap between the project’s stakeholders and the development team. They work directly with stakeholders, analyze their wishes and transform them into a concise, clear, and non-conflicting set of requirements understandable for technical specialists.

Good business analysts can handle conflicts and help stakeholders come to an understanding notwithstanding any opinion differences. Highly qualified specialists can be identified by their work on the requirements documentation (i.e. SRS), that determines the criteria for the project’s successful completion and delivery to the client.

Project Manager

While small teams and projects can succeed without a project manager (PM), this role is vital for medium and large-scale development endeavors. Project manager is the driving force behind the project. He communicates with technical and design specialists, as well as with clients and stakeholders. Project manager’s main goal is to ensure the project meets its objectives, including budget and deadline. Therefore, risk management is one of PMs’ primary tasks, and experienced managers identify and address the occurring issues while they are still small enough to cause minimal losses.

The responsibilities of a PM include project initiating, planning, executing, monitoring, controlling, and closing. Project managers rely on their knowledge of software development methodologies and practices to select the best-suited option for each client. Task-tracking software and established communication channels are two of the PM’s primary tools.

Quality Assurance Specialist

Quality assurance (QA) specialists ensure the project is bug-free and ready for end-users. QA is an integral part of the development flow that signifies the project’s completion, as QA team determines whether an end product meets the requirements and performs without fail.

QA specialists cooperate with functional analysts and solutions architects to transform initial requirements into a set of test cases and scripts. Upon test cases analysis, QA specialists identify the problems and ensure they are solved before the project is delivered to the client. Beside automated and documented testing, random tests are performed to locate possible system bugs.

Computools teams for medium and large-scale projects include both the QA specialists to assess the integrity of the code, and the performance QA managers that measure and quantify the solution’s performance.

Dedicated Team Roles For A Large-Scale Project

Large projects with tight deadlines push project managers to increase the size of a dedicated team. However, there is no linear relationship between the development efficiency and the team size. The increased number of software engineers working on the project might unreasonably raise the development cost without producing rapid results.

Larger teams have the advantage of a better skills distribution, but their efficiency may suffer due to communication and coordination difficulties. Rapid development of large-scale projects relies on seamless in-team communication and perfect understanding between the client and the IT vendor. As a result, the roles of Project Manager and Team Lead gain increased significance.

Dedicated team roles for a large-scale project
 

Team Lead

Working closely with a project manager, team lead (development manager) ensures the team’s long-term success and coordinates the technical aspects of the development lifecycle. Troubleshooting, risk management, and delivery estimation are among the leader’s primary responsibilities. In distributed international teams, a team lead is in charge of delivery phases planning and code review.

On large-scale projects, development manager handles the responsibilities of meeting the deadlines and delivering high-quality solutions that meet the client’s requirements. Team leads communicate directly with all stakeholders and software engineers and along with project managers they ensure understanding between the client and the IT vendor.

Solutions Architect

While often unnecessary for smaller projects involving simple solutions and few developers, the solutions architect’s role is critical for complex development efforts. The primary responsibility of a solutions architect is translating system requirements elicited and documented by a business analyst into the architecture documentation understandable for software engineers. This role requires continuous learning and research of the current approaches and technology, since a solutions architect is responsible for selecting an optimal technology stack for the project’s needs.

Experienced solutions architects can analyze faulty system requirements and work closely with business analysts to improve them and develop an elegant and simple architecture. Understanding a higher level of the project’s architecture enables the team to divide the project into manageable blocks that could be developed separately, yet after integration will fit perfectly  to form a cohesive solution.

Deployment Specialist

Deployment specialists are often overlooked in small and medium projects with a limited number of users. However, large-scale development requires carefully-planned deployment to ensure positive initial perception among the early adopters. Deployment specialists analyze the project’s dependencies and system requirements and ensure they are met in the course of the installation process. Installation programs are developed by deployment specialists based on a set of installation instructions and tested across a variety of systems.

Other critical aspects of efficient deployment comprise respectful deinstallation without damaging other software products, permission handling, and patch deployment. Users expect to be able to install, uninstall, and update software without trouble. Considering the impact deployment might have upon the end users, the process should not be rushed, despite being close to the tail end of the development lifecycle.

Training Specialist

Training specialists conclude the development cycle and facilitate the final transition of the finished product from the IT vendor to the client. Trainers require in-depth understanding of the project’s features to develop educational materials for average users. Self-help guides, online presentations, one-on-one sessions, and offline classes are the most common training techniques utilized upon the delivery of complex systems that disrupt the company’s day-to-day operational processes.

The success of the training depends on the trainer’s ability to approach problems from a user’s perspective and offer simple and streamlined solutions. The most charismatic and passionate training specialists can turn into corporate evangelists, advocating and promoting the project among its target audience.

Software Development Team Success Depends On Multiple Factors

Dedicated team composition varies depending on the project’s scope and complexity. Small-scale development might rely on a single designer or developer, while large projects require dozens of engineers, testers, and other experts led by a project manager and a team lead.

However, the success of a dedicated team is not solely a factor of the number or software engineers or their skill level. Large teams with dozens of specialists fail, unless personal and social factors are taken into consideration. An efficient development team composition model accounts for three variables: team role, gender, and personality type. Experienced project managers utilize personality profiles that combine engineer’s hard skills (technology expertise and experience) with soft skills (communication competence and capability for teamwork), as well as previous successful experience of cooperation. Tightly knit teams with complementary skill sets and personalities are the prime driver of outsourcing success.

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