What are the key roles & responsibilities of a highly effective software development team?

To keep it simple, there are four software development team roles and responsibilities, they are product owner, scrum master (project manager), engineers, and quality control. Team size-wise, it depends on the scope of your project and the team’s skillset. There are factors like the industry, company, development mythology, and software product you’re developing. Given the complexity of the project, you’d need different skill sets and perhaps more roles.

First, we’ll define what an effective software team means. Second, we’ll touch on the team setups you’d encounter. We’ll review the typical Agile development team’s responsibilities and roles. Lastly, there are tips on what to keep in mind when building a lean fighting machine.

What makes an effective software development team?

What can they do and produces. From a business perspective, we’re looking for two things.
1) Quality software and feature delivery
2) Timely delivery

These two goals are achievable with the right resources.

Tip: Hire right

  1. Hire the right developers, that are willing to do the work and are reasonable. You can have the best product manager, scrum master, and intentions but without developers willing to do the work or not being reasonable, it can be a challenge.
  2. Hire the right leadership, whether that’s the dev lead, scrum master, or product manager.
    • Without good work ethics from leadership, it will make teams less productive.
    • Without good work ethics from leadership, it will make teams less productive.
    • Without good direction and requirements, it’s not fair and reasonable for engineers to deliver on time and with quality.
  3. Hire based on your company environment and needs. You do not need to overhire. For example, if there is a strong tech lead, you don’t need a scrum master but you’d still need a product owner. Tech teams can write their own JIRA tickets, and scope their work within reason. Empower your team to be self-organizing.
    • Tip – ask yourself, is my Scrum Master (SM), teaching and training the team and organization on best scrum practices for my product and work env.? Does my SM or Project Manager do more than just take notes, and action items, and hold people accountable? B/c you need to keep in mind that, developers are smart and capable, they can take notes and be accountable when expected to do so. It’ll help them be more engaged and feel a sense of ownership over their work. In my experience, tech leads can do what “typical SM do” and better. An SM and PM are needed when the project gets complicated, like dependencies, external partnerships or vendor integrations, more than one dev team, and more than one timezone.


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