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Agile Software Development Team Structure explained

Oct 27, 2022 10 min read
"Agile Software Development Team Structure explained"

More software projects are being outsourced, but there is still a lot of debate about how software development teams should be structured.

We use the Agile software development team structure, which provides several important benefits. But how should an Agile team be structured? And what does Agile mean anyway?

Read on to find out what the Agile manifesto is, how to structure a team, the responsibilities of everyone on it, and the advantages of the Agile software development team structure.

What Is the Agile Manifesto?

The Agile Manifesto outlines the principle of Agile software development and its values.

This alternative methodology was formed in 2001 by a team who had become frustrated with other methodologies. The team is now known as the Agile Alliance. The Agile methodology continues to be adopted, and the Alliance has grown into a global organization with thousands of members.

It’s a lightweight framework that was designed to be an improvement on existing processes. These were typically complex and ineffective, and the aim was to simplify and speed up the processes and make a more efficient model.

Key Agile Values

When it comes to an agile approach, there are four simple yet key values. When a team is structured in such a way, they usually follow these elements:

A focus on individuals and interactions

Agile is all about the people rather than focusing on tools and processes. The idea is that if you don’t have people doing their best work, even the best processes won’t help.

The team is the most important resource, and communication is essential. When people interact better, they work better, leading to better products.

Customer collaboration

There is a strong focus on getting the customer involved in the process with the Agile methodology.
The customer should be more engaged during the cycle to provide feedback, opinions, and suggestions that enhance the product. Developers, therefore, gain valuable insights to create a better user experience.

Shifting the focus away from documentation

In other methodologies, teams create extensive documents with specifications and more, even before the developers begin on the code.

But this delays the process, and Agile focuses more on streamlining the documents and condensing information. Hence, the developer has what they need to start on the software, speeding up the launch process and avoiding unnecessary delays.

Ability to change

Agile is about being open to change instead of following a set plan. Older methodologies focused on a lack of change. The idea was that alterations are costly in terms of time and money. As such, they were very structured to avoid obstacles.

The Agile methodology completely turns this around. With Agile, there is a need to embrace change and be open to new ideas and possibilities. The focus is on always finding ways to improve and then reacting fast. By implementing changes regularly, you can create better products.

The Agile Software Development Team Structure

Source: Medium (Oldane Graham)

The Agile team structure provides a framework you can follow. Using this structure, you can better arrange different elements in the team when working on an Agile project.

Good structure is important for any team to provide greater clarity. All team members know their responsibilities, and Agile makes it flexible and easier to respond to changes more effectively.

The Agile structure should be collaborative with lots of communication. Colleagues can even learn from others and develop their skills during the project.

It should also be cross-functional. This means every team member has their skillset, but they have one common goal—to produce the final product on time and ensure the customer is happy.

Agile also has a flat structure. Individuals can work independently and with autonomy, and every member has a specific responsibility without the need for unnecessary management.

Different Approaches to Agile Software Team Structure

Before looking at the individual roles within the team structure, it’s important to mention that there are different approaches.

The structure depends on resources, costs, and the project itself, and different options may work in different circumstances. There are typically three approaches:

  • Generalist Approach. The generalist approach focuses on broad skill sets, which is the most common. With this approach, all team members understand the overall product well. But they lack specific skills and knowledge, so they sometimes must onboard new team members.
  • Specialist Approach. The specialist approach comprises experts who have very specific skill sets and are proficient at their tasks. This approach is good for building complex systems because of the high degree of knowledge it combines. But communication can sometimes suffer because of a lack of general knowledge.
  • Hybrid Approach. The hybrid approach combines generalists and specialists, which can be very effective when structured properly.

Factors that Impact the Software Development Organizational Structure

How you structure your team will depend on certain factors. When it comes to the "generalist versus specialist" approach, there is no one solution for all software development teams. At the end of the day, all projects are different and require a unique approach.

For example, the type of software impacts the structure because every program has unique technology and specific requirements in terms of skills.

The budget may also be limited, which can impact your ability to bring top talent to your team.

The size of the project is also a factor that will have an impact on the number of team members you may need. For example, smaller projects often focus more on generalist teams, while larger projects often use the specialist approach.

Key Positions in the Agile Team Structure

The agile team structure may differ slightly from team to team. However, there are a few standard positions that most teams include.

Product Owner

The Product Owner is in charge of the big picture and has a broad vision of the product and what it should look like including its end-user impact.

They have in-depth knowledge of the user and the product. They usually work with clients by sharing information and updating them regularly to ensure they meet their needs.

In short, they represent the client’s needs. They outline the requirements set by the client and ensure they’re all met.

Product Owners are responsible for defining the project’s scope, supervising the development team, and ensuring things are on track so they can meet the requirements.

They’re sometimes involved in the hiring process, and they’re not a specialist but instead support the team as a whole and make sure the project is progressing as it should.

Project Manager

The next level is the Project Manager, sometimes called Scrum Master or Team Lead.

Project management is a more hands-on role, and the Project Manager is responsible for delegating tasks and being in charge of when tasks are completed. In addition, they help with communication and document progress for the product owner. They also provide team members with resources and help them to meet their goals.

The Project Manager ensures everything runs smoothly. They’re in charge of hosting meetings, planning, and executing. In short, they’re responsible for getting things done.

Business Analyst

The Business Analyst (BA) is the bridge between the business and technology side of the project. The success of a project does not depend on the technology alone, and an effective business model is also needed. The BA’s role is to assess the market and customer trends to determine how the project fits into it.

They work out how the final product will generate revenue and how to keep development costs down. Their role is to determine goals, analyze core processes, and document them.

UX/UI Designer

The UX/UI Designer focuses on how the program looks and feels. Their responsibility is the user experience or user interface.

They’re responsible for usability and functionality and will determine the software program’s aesthetics and how everything works together.

They work closely with front-end developers and focus on how the end user interacts with the final product, how it solves problems, meets specific goals, and how it works.

Software Developers

There are both front-end and back-end developers on the team. Front-end developers work on customer-facing elements, while back-end developers focus on functionality, which the users don’t see when using the product.

Front-end developers write code and deal with technical aspects. The designer gives them the concept, and they create the user interface.

They care about how the user interacts with the program and the challenges they face. They must also code for different platforms if the product is on different platforms.

Back-end developers carry out all the behind-the-scenes coding, the things that the users don’t see. This coding is essential for running the program, and they are highly specialized.

Quality Assurance Engineer

The Quality Assurance Engineer (QA) is a tester. QA specialists test the product to ensure it works properly and meets the quality standards and client requirements.

QA is intended to make sure the final product looks good and works well by paying great attention to detail, and picking out errors and spot bugs.

Testers may carry out quality assurance at different times during the development process. They ensure the product works as intended and find problems the development team has not spotted.

DevOps Specialist

DevOps means development operations. These engineers are versatile and very technical, and they help the developers do their jobs properly. They do this by creating a stable development environment and optimizing the process.

DevOps manage security both during development and after launch, and plan and then deploy the program and ensure the launch is smooth. After launch, they’re responsible for keeping it running smoothly.

Stakeholder

The stakeholder could be an investor or company executive. They’re not involved directly with the activities of the project, but they help to determine the deliverables.

They liaise with the product owner as well as other team members. They provide feedback that can have a big impact on the end result.

How to Build a Software Engineering Team Structure

It can be a challenge to build your Agile team structure. Where should you start? The basic process is as follows:

  • Choose the most suitable approach based on the specifics of the project. This could be a generalist, specialist, or hybrid approach.
  • Assign roles by assessing the skills of team members.
  • Be adaptable. The agile structure should be flexible, so make adjustments when something isn’t working.

Advantages of Agile Structure for Development Teams

There are several benefits of having an Agile team structure. Here are some of the main ones:

  • Greater Adaptability. This is the whole idea behind Agile. It’s more responsive to change, and there is less disruption when you need to adapt.
  • Improved Communication. Face-to-face communication is prioritized in Agile, as are daily meetings. Make sure everyone is focused on the same goals to reduce confusion.
  • More Predictable. There is a focus on working in shorter periods, which are often called sprints, lasting about two weeks. This makes it easier to measure performance and predict costs.
  • Better Results. Quality is improved every time because of the constant focus on improvement. This leads to better products and more satisfied customers who are more involved in the process.

Conclusion

Choosing the right software development team structure can make a big difference to the overall success of a project. We’ve enjoyed great success with the Agile structure for all the above reasons.

Consider creating a team with an Agile structure for your next project to benefit from greater flexibility and better results. It’s a great way to properly utilize the talents of your team members and improve productivity.

Whichever structure you use, always take the time to evaluate how successful it is. Is communication efficient? Does every team member have specific responsibilities that they are aware of? Is there a strong team culture? The answers to these questions will determine how successful your chosen structure is for your organization.

To start utilizing the power of an agile IT team, consider contacting a helpful representative at QIT Software today. We live and breathe this concept and are happy to deploy our team on any IT project.