There is a shortage of software development talents and tech talents in general, particularly in the western world. In 2020, the global tech talent shortage stood at 40 million and is said to grow to 85.2 million by 2030. Due to this talent shortage, companies could potentially lose $8.4 trillion in revenue.
This is a major reason it is difficult for companies to build a software development team; basically, the chances of your new hire not nearly perfectly fitting their job role is high. So, many just settle for who they get. However, it does not have to be so. There are ways to assemble an effective software development team for your project.
Some models of how to build a software development team include:
- Offshoring: outsourcing software development to an overseas-based agency
- Outstaffing: hiring developers directly but who remain in the employ of the agency
- Freelancers: hiring independent freelancers via platforms such as Upwork, Fiverr, etc.
- Recruitment Agency: contracting a recruitment agency to find suitable talents for your company
All these models have their peculiarities as well as advantages and disadvantages. However, some basic elements exist that take a software development team from good to great. A good understanding of these elements is important for productive results that align with your goals and expectations.
This article is a comprehensive guide to making the best use of the software development talent pool. It covers such aspects as the important factors to consider before assembling the team, possible challenges companies face when building a software development team, a detailed roadmap, as well as post-hiring advice on how to motivate members and particularly how to manage an offshore model.
Key Factors to Consider When Building a Software Development Team
Skills are deliberately not explored among the factors here, even though being skilled is highly important to building a successful software development team. However, many companies overate the role of skills at the expense of other factors such as industry knowledge and passion.
In any case, on how to start a software development team, don’t limit your considerations to the abilities of the members. Structural factors such as project scope, scalability, and risk assessment are critical success factors as well. All these relevant in how to make a software development team are explored in detail below.
If building a successful software development team was as simple as finding people who can slam keyboard keys to produce code lines on-screen, then every developer is just about the same, besides the level of expertise. However, that is not the case.
When you create software, you are doing it for people; therefore, members responsible for building the software must understand the nuances of the industry. Portfolios and lists of past projects provide insights into this. Hiring developers with industry knowledge is critical to successfully building usable software.
Before building a software development team, try to find out what is each member passionate about? A person’s passion informs their attitude to work, relationship with their colleagues, willingness to learn, etc. Passionate people are willing to take up challenging responsibilities that empower them to build innovative solutions.
You don’t need to have every professional on the ground from the outset of the project. Sometimes, specialists don’t come in until the project has reached an advanced stage. Other times, the project requirements grow so much that it is expedient to introduce new additions. Consider building a dynamic team where you can add and remove members on-demand and on the go.
Scope of the project
The project scope covers the direction and the dimension of the project. Every decision concerning budget, staffing, infrastructure, etc. depends on the clarity and accuracy of the scope. Perhaps the most important question in how to start a software development team is when does this project become done? Then, every other factor must be geared towards the fulfillment of that answer, which is essentially the goal of the project.
Identify risk factors
Even if the entire project does not result in a failure (and the hopes are that it doesn’t), certain aspects of the project might go wrong. In building a successful software development team, conduct an assessment to identify risk factors and establish protocols to deal with issues as they arise. Doing this lays a solid foundation to build upon.
How to Build a Good Software Development Team: Challenges You Might Face
There is no undertaking without its own challenges, including building a successful software development team. Yet, challenges are meant to be surmounted. One of the things that help cushion the effects of the issues that may arise in building a software development team is having a solid foundational plan from the outset. There must be a flexible basis that aids adaptation so as not to drag the project backward.
Some of the most common challenges when you want to build a software development team include the following:
Limited Infrastructural Resources
Software development is resource-consuming! The lack of necessary infrastructure is a challenge mostly faced by startups and even sometimes by established businesses. It’s also one reason businesses may choose to outsource their software development project to an outsourcing agency: so that they can take advantage of the vendor’s resources.
The IT sector is a highly fast-paced environment with different innovations constantly being introduced. In a bid to outgun the competitors and reduce time-to-market, a company might place unnecessary pressure on its software development team.
However, what this only achieves is lower the productivity of the workers. How to build a good software development team is more than wanting to be the first to release your product, focus on creating the best solution to meet that need.
High salary demands
Notwithstanding how coding has become so popular today, there are still scarce software development talents to close all the job openings available. So, companies concerned about building a successful software development team have to, at least, offer an attractive payment package. This is particularly true in the US, with its high cost of living.
However, offshoring the project to a vendor in Ukraine, China, Mexico, etc. is often a more cost-effective solution. Those countries, particularly Ukraine, have an abundance of skilled software development talents. Outsourcing to cheaper countries contributes to how to build a good software development team.
How to Start a Software Development Team: A Trusted Roadmap
This section analyzes the very components of how to make a software development team that is effective. This includes the type, size, structure, roles and responsibilities, and finally cultural fit. All these must be clearly determined in how to start a software development team successfully. Read on to find out how all these impacts the outcome of the software development project.
The members of this type of team possess a wide range of skills across different aspects of software development. They can handle a project in any area, as far it does not require in-depth specialist knowledge. A generalist model is useful for routine development tasks.
Specialists have a very narrow focus but they are highly knowledgeable in that one area. Use them for projects requiring very technical expertise. Note, though, that teams of specialists are susceptible to communication problems even though dependence is high.
Hybrid teams try to provide the best of both (generalist and specialist) worlds by harnessing the strengths of each for effective cooperation. Many companies today use the hybrid model in how to build a software development team.
The smaller the group, the better. Small groups are easier to manage and are more efficient per capita. However, don’t hire a small team just for its sake. Even if you end up with a large group, you should consider splitting them up into smaller sub-unit.
Most importantly, regarding how to start a software development team, you only need to hire just enough people that are able to see the project through to the end. Sometimes, you may have to use a small group from the beginning and gradually expand (via outstaffing/outsourcing services) as the project advances and more specialists are required.
In a bid to save costs, some employers build a software development team comprising almost entirely junior developers. Sometimes, there’s only one senior developer who supervises their junior colleagues. This is not an efficient approach.
As a result of their experience, senior developers have enhanced intuition. You would definitely pay more to hire senior developers, although you would hire fewer. More so, their expertise translates to a higher efficiency which, in turn, translates to a reduced time-to-market. Junior developers can always assist with routine and smaller tasks.
In all, there should be a well-defined structure for the team as well as an established hierarchy to give the team a sense of direction.
Team Roles and Responsibilities
Building a successful software development team without specific and clear roles for members of the team is impossible. Everyone should know what they are supposed to do per time even without a supervisor prompting them.
A software development team does not only comprise developers; there are also UI/UX designers, business analysts, Quality Assurance specialists/testers, project managers, etc. involved in the process. Always clarify the expectations for each person/role from the outset in order for the project to move according to the planned direction.
Team Cultural Fit
It is not enough to hire the smartest professionals if they are obnoxious. Certainly, you can find professionals who are just as smart while yet very cooperative, open-minded, and willing to learn. It does not just matter that your developers are skilled and experienced, it also matters how they fit into the atmosphere of the workplace. One insufferable person can dull the morale of the rest of the people and that would impact the result of the project. Always hire people who are not simply smart but also great team players.
Offshoring and How to Build a Good Software Development Team Overseas
Many companies eventually look to an offshore option to build a software development team. Notwithstanding the benefits that offshoring software development offers, the model itself is not a silver bullet if the following processes have not been implemented:
Establish a system for regular, effective interaction
The strides recorded in technology have made distance less of a challenge when it comes to communication and how to build a software development team. Therefore, what makes communication effective is less about the tool used than about the management of the medium. Create open channels for regular interaction to make sure everyone is alert to their responsibilities at every point in time.
In offshore software development particularly, where the difference in time zones may pose a more serious challenge, you need to implement both synchronous and asynchronous communication channels to close any gaps.
Have a resolution policy at hand before setting out on the project
How do you want to handle conflicts of personalities or of responsibilities? How do you inspire action from that one member who always seems to drag the rest of the project behind? From the outset of the project, you should have established priority levels for various categories of issues, escalation protocols, as well as resolution assignments. This helps to reduce the friction in the process and keeps people focused on the work at hand.
Assign responsibilities clearly
People are more creative when they have a clear idea of your expectations from them. There is a difference between affinity for a project where different people are involved and the sense of responsibility felt for one’s specific tasks. Team members should not be left clueless and responsibilities should not overlap such that productivity and delivery would be impeded.
Encourage innovation by empowering your hires to be creative
There is an artistic side to software development that project managers need to acknowledge. Developers (and in fact, every other professional who is not bound to strict routine duties) thrive in an enterprising environment. This means providing hires with tools that help them to channel their creativity and get the proverbial juices flowing. It, in fact, helps the developers to better cope with the upbeat landscape of the technology sector and adapt to changes adeptly.
One of the challenges of remote work, for many managers, is how it changes the dynamics of performance evaluation. For many physical companies that have relied so long on time spent at work to judge performance, that model falls apart with remote work in the picture.
When you use an offshore model, how to build a software development team properly is to define optimal metrics of performance evaluation that take the developers’ peculiar working conditions into considerations and that align with the projects’ goals. That’s how to build a good software development team.
How to Make a Software Development Team Burst With Energy
Offshore or onshore, freelance or in-house, software development or otherwise, motivation is the fuel that propels people. How do you make sure that your team has it in abundance? Pay attention to these:
Every software development project is draining in some way. Celebrating the little victories accumulated along the way helps keep the group moving. It boosts individual morale and lifts the team’s spirit. These rewards don’t need to be elaborate. What matters is how to make a software development team’s members genuinely feel that their work is valid and they are contributing to something great.
Isolation might be great for short bursts of focused work. However, for long projects, individual energies run out at some point and motivation must be drawn from others. Therefore, enabling a culture of collaboration and transparent interaction helps team members to gain inspiration from their colleagues.
Schedule bonding activities
Work hours should not be strictly and entirely development-focused; they should also include how to make the development team bond tighter. At times, block out time for pastimes that ensure this. Such activities may feature common games, a creative ‘free-for-all’ day, group workout sessions, volunteering, breakfast/lunch/dinner outing, etc. When members feel close to each other, they are collectively more productive. Building a software development team is a continuous process that doesn’t simply end up with assembling developers.
Choose an effective team lead/project manager
The role of the project manager is not an honorary one, where whoever occupies it is only responsible for assigning tasks and collecting performance reports. It takes much more to be effective as a project manager. Such a person must be able to inspire team members, identify the strengths and weaknesses of each member, communicate clearly, chart a viable team direction, and so on.
Our Advice About How to Start a Software Development Team
As “ProCoders,” we are a software development talent provider delivering the best IT teams to our clients and partners. Therefore, we understand more than one or two things about how to build a good software development team. Our advice on this subject is summarized in the following three points.
Trust your team members
Build a software development team of people you trust so that you won’t have to micromanage them. Micromanaging people stifles their creativity and reduces their productivity; it may also fuel resentment. You need to hire people that are reliable so that you can give them the freedom to innovate. Once you have a clear vision and expectation for the project, allow the developers the creative license to come up with ingenious solutions.
One of the most common questions regarding how to build a software development team is whether to use in-house workers or to outsource the project. First, note that either has its advantages as well as disadvantages. However, outsourcing is a more cost-effective option; this is not only in terms of workers’ salaries and benefits alone but also in terms of recruitment, onboarding, infrastructure, etc.
Putting all the expenses together, it costs way less to outsource development to an efficient team than to try to build an in-house team. More so, outsourcing allows you fast access to a global talent pool.
Build an inclusive team
One part many employers don’t pay attention to in building a software development team (or any, for that matter) is the importance of informal roles. You need a fine mix of people with diverse personalities so that they can complement each other’s strengths and balance out each other’s weaknesses.
Informal roles may include leaders, thinkers, critics, spokespersons, analysts, motivators, etc. During the interview stages, pay attention to the natural aptitudes of each person; that’s how to make a software development team that’s an optimal blend of personalities.
Building a software development team that is solid is the beginning of every successful project. Therefore, you need to invest more effort into assembling a team of brilliant minds to create the best software. That applies even if you would be outsourcing the project.
Competition for scarce talent is high in the IT sector so you need the best approach on how to make a software development team in order to win over people for valuable project delivery. You might as well leave this responsibility to a company that has wide experience building efficient software development teams: ProCoders.
In the case of Frontegg, an Israel-based SaaS startup providing plug-and-play development solutions to other SaaS companies, the aim was to expand their local team with first-rate developers from ProCoders. Hiring an offshore software development team was a smart choice for them as it enabled them to upscale their product in line with global standards and perspectives.
First, we had multiple meetings with Frontegg to clarify their goals and expectations, as well as setting up a team made up of the right blend of software development talents from our team. The CEO of Frontegg approved the list of suitable developers and intertwined each of them to make sure they perfectly suit their project. We build a software development team less than in two weeks! We have been working with Frontegg for over a year and a half.
One of the main Frontegg requires was the scalability of the team. Whenever extra hands are needed from time to time, we easily refer to our pool to plug holes and make the project keep going seamlessly.
Our custom-built software development team for Frontegg recorded the following results:
- 25% higher time-to-market for core features of Frontegg’s software solution
- 30% improvement in project turnaround
- 38% cost reduction in HR expenses