successful app development team

How Many People Does an App Development Team Need to Create a Mobile Application?

Estimated read time: 17 minutes

Wondering how many people an app development team needs to create a mobile application? Keep reading to find out the answer.

In this article

  1. Your Development Approach Determines the Size of Your Mobile App Development Team
  2. Forming a Mobile App Development Team: Structure and Key Roles
  3. Team Management: Making Your Mobile App Development Team Productive
  4. Hiring Your Mobile App Development Team
  5. Planning to Build an App Development Team?
  6. Frequently Asked Questions

The number of mobile app downloads worldwide is constantly growing. In 2023, users downoaded 257 billion mobile applications from app stores, mostly Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Experts forecast that in 2025, mobile apps will generate more than $613 billion in revenue.

With many startups turning into billion-dollar companies in recent decades thanks to their innovative ideas and powerful mobile apps, more and more companies are looking to try to follow suit. 

If you are one such company that is looking to create apps to become the next Unicorn, then you will need to build a first-rate mobile app development team to build your next-generation mobile application.

In this article, I will focus on how your development approach will determine the size of your mobile app development team as well as on giving some background on the mobile development team structure and roles of its members.

If you have an app idea but currently lack a development team or partner, you can hire mobile app developers from a reputable software development company such as DevTeam.Space. Send us a few details about your project and we will arrange a complimentary discovery call with one of our tech account managers.

Now let’s delve deep into the topic of mobile app development team structure, key roles, and size.

Your Development Approach Determines the Size of Your Mobile App Development Team

The mobile consumer market is saturated, while users will no longer settle for anything less than high-quality software. Let’s explore what makes a successful app.

To ensure that developers have the power to develop such mobile apps, mobile app development platforms and frameworks are being improved and expanded by enormous development communities.

However, because development tools for app creation are becoming increasingly complex, no professional can hold all the necessary knowledge and experience to build and support a custom product.

This is why you will need a mobile app developmet team. But what kind and size of team exactly? Since your project is unique, it is hard to answer precisely how many developers you will need. Your project requirements will ultimately determine this. 

Factors that influence the type and number of developers in your mobile app development team include:

  • Project size;
  • Project complexity (number of advanced technologies, etc.);
  • Time to delivery;
  • Budget (do you need to raise additional funds as you go?).

Let’s have a look at a few examples of what we mean by project requirements (development approach) and how this affects the number of developers in a mobile app developement team.

Native vs cross-platform app development

Cross-platform app development frameworks like React Native can deliver a near-native user experience (UX). You create only one app and run it on both iOS and Android, therefore, your development and maintenance costs tend to be lower than with two mobile apps.

However, cross-platform apps still can’t deliver the UX that native apps can since native development utilizes plugins that only allow for some, but not all, native functionalities to be integrated, i.e. the device’s camera, volume control, etc.

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Native apps deliver greater performance and security too. We explained this in What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?

Which option you choose will dramatically affect the type and number of developers. 

If you plan to develop two separate Android and iOS apps, you will need at least two developers. Your iOS developer will need to know the programming language Swift, while your Android developer will need to know Java, Kotlin, etc.

Developing your APIs vs using third-party APIs

Do you plan to reinvent the wheel so far as every part of your mobile app goes? You probably don’t. One area where you can save a lot of time and money in the development is APIs. You can opt to use third-party APIs to save on valuable development time.

While this makes a great deal of sense and is now common practice, you also need to exercise caution before adding too many external dependencies to your app.

I recommend you develop your RESTful APIs for your core features and factor this in while estimating the number of people you need in your mobile app development team. If you plan to develop your own RESTful APIs, you will need more developers and time.

Need help with API development? Read our guide How to build RESTful API for your mobile app?.

Securing your mobile apps

Are you planning to build a mobile app for a heavily-regulated industry like financial services or healthcare? You will need to pay extra attention towards securing your app effectively since these industries operate under stringent data security regulations.

You will need a sufficient number of professionals who can mitigate any application security vulnerabilities and review your code to unearth any hidden security risks. You will need to factor this in when estimating how big your mobile app development team needs to be.

Wondering how to mitigate application security risks? Our guide How to secure your Fintech app will help.

Bearing these few examples in mind, it’s easy to understand why the answer to the question “How many developers do you need to make an app?” is so complex. There are no trifles in app building.

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Forming a Mobile App Development Team: Structure and Key Roles

If you plan to invest over tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, and months of your time in app creation — you better do it right and get the right development team. Pay attention to your mobile app development team structure.

Even if you choose to build a product internally, you will still need to build an in-house team (which is harder than hiring an existing team).

So, who do you need to for mobile app development? Here is an example of an app development team structure:

  • UI/UX designer
  • Mobile developer
  • Backend developer
  • QA specialist
  • DevOps specialist

Total: five people!

Oh, and don’t forget about a project manager (PM) who will manage all these people and play one of the key roles in the development process.

That‘s a bare minimum for your app development team structure.

If you plan to integrate any advanced technologies such as AI or blockchain, you will need additional professionals. 

If you plan to move fast when building your cross-platform app for both iOS and Android, you will need to add more engineers, namely Android and iOS developers. 

You might also want to include a business analyst to your mobile app development team.

Let’s now have a closer look at the responsibilities of each mobile app development team member.

Project Manager

The role of a project manager is key to the success of your app development. The project manager will be responsible for completing your mobile app project on time, they will see to it that the product your team delivers meets all the requirements and is of the highest quality.

Project manager’s responsibilities include:

  • overseeing a mobile app project from beginning to end;
  • maintaining communications between the client and developers;
  • assigning tasks to the team members;
  • monitoring the work progress and ensuring the deadlines are met;
  • adjusting the product delivery schedule, if necessary;
  • ensuring the project doesn’t go beyond the agreed budget.

UI/UX Designer

Although UI (user interface) and UX (user experience) are often used interchangeably, these are two different terms representing two different things.

User interface refers to the look and feel of an app, its visual representation. UI should be nice-looking and easy-to-use. Then app users will get positive user experience, or UX. Thus, UX is a broader notion that has to do with how a user feels about interacting with your mobile app in general. 

UI and UX functions can be split between two different professionals, but it’s not uncommon when one person combines the two roles.

Here are the core responsibilities of a UI/UX designer:

  • conducting research of user behavior and identifying their needs and pain points;
  • gathering user requirements;
  • contributing to making informed decisions on an app’s features;
  • thinking of user flow and creating sketches and mockups;
  • designing an intuitive layout with user-friendly visual elements, etc;
  • developing navigation components (e.g. what happens when a user taps or swipes).

Mobile Developer

Mobile app developers can specialize in developing iOS apps, Android apps, and cross-platform apps. The use of programming languages and frameworks will depend on their specialization. For example, Kotlin can be used for Android app development, while Swift is for iOS app development.

A mobile app developer’s responsibilities include:

  • transforming sketches and mockups into code;
  • ensuring that this code is high-quality, maintainable and reusable;
  • debugging mobile apps.

Backend Developer

A backend developer builds the server-side part of mobile apps. In other words, this specialist is responsible for what happens ‘behind-the-scenes’ and is invisible to the user — the app’s logic.

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Here are some of the duties of a backend developer:

  • creating the app’s architecture and logic;
  • developing APIs;
  • maintaining databases and managing cloud storage;
  • working with IDEs (integrated development environments).

QA Engineer

QA engineers are professionals who create and perform tests to find bugs and errors in software products before they are launched.

Here are QA engineers’ key responsibilities:

  • checking if an app meets all the requirements;
  • carrying out manual and/or automated tests;
  • documenting test cases and test results;
  • providing feedback to developers.

DevOps Engineer 

A DevOps engineer is a link between programmers who write code, build and change/update applications and infrastructure operations responsible for app stability.

The responsibilities of DevOps engineers embrace a range of tasks, such as:

  • communications between dev teams and operations teams in order to identify problems and resolving issues related to software development lifecycle;
  • designing tools for automating continuous integration and delivery;
  • infrastructure provisioning and management;
  • system administration.

Business Analyst

In a broad sense, business analysts (BAs) identify what clients want and help make data-driven decisions on applications’ functional and non-functional requirements. Some of the responsibilities of a business analyst include:

  • performing business analyses to identify problems and opportunities;
  • assessing business requirements and setting goals;
  • estimating the project cost.

If you don’d have the budget, it is possible to survive with only three people (mobile developer, backend developer, and UI/UX designer). Such an approach might allow you to build a very simple MVP to demo to prospective investors to try to secure more investment funds.

How long does it take to build an app?

Some stats say that on average, it takes approximately 18 weeks to build a native app. However, it all depends on the scope of your project, the complexity of the app itself, as well as the expertise of your developers.

And that brings us to yet another challenging task — how to hire mobile developers who are experts in their field, reliable, and ready to invest their energy and experience into building an outstanding mobile app?

But, there’s one more factor that plays an important role in determining how long it will take to complete your app — team management.

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Team Management: Making Your Mobile App Development Team Productive

Great developers account for only 20% of your mobile app success. 80% is down to good product management.

If you never managed a mobile app development process before, you need to hire a product manager to avoid making a fatal error that could result in total project failure.

So at a minimum, any project to create a successful mobile app really needs from 4 to 10 people on the team.

For example, we had to allocate 6 developers, one Project Manager, and one Account Manager to help Adventure Aide with their product launch and growth.

This helped turn their project into a success story. Here is what they had to say about our help:

To summarize: If you’re wondering how to make a successful app, you should extensively prepare before you decide to invest a penny and your time.

You want to make sure your product development is split into phases so you have time to validate the market and core features before you invest more into growth.

I would recommend you start with only one platform, not a hybrid, but a native one, preferably an iOS app (though it depends on your target audience).

Once you have a successful launch, you can validate the market and start working on the Android app.

Keep in mind one more thing — marketing. For that, you will need to have a website too. Even if it is only a simple one, what‘s important is you have your own corner of the internet to showcase your products and start building your brand.

So add one frontend developer for creating advertising materials like branding websites, etc., on your mobile app development team.

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Hiring Your Mobile App Development Team

After evaluating your mobile app development team structure and how many people you will need, you then need to decide where to get them. You have 3 options:

  • Hire in-house developers
  • Hire individual developers
  • Hire a dev team

In-house

Hiring an in-house team is time-consuming and risky. Imagine you find out that you need to pivot or close your company after your MVP isn’t accepted by the market. It is likely you will have to pay at least a month’s salary to each in compensation. Also, hiring 5–10 really good people would take you several months.

Refining the mobile app development process so your in-house developers will actually work well as a team could take you several months more. And dealing with the employment and other paperwork — you know what a pain that is.

However, if you have $2M+ in your bank account, experience in building and running teams, and project development, and plan to develop more mobile or web apps in the future, then it could be a good way to go.

Individual Freelance Developers

Hiring individual freelance developers is super-risky and also means your project won‘t be scalable. After all, for each of the individual freelancers you hire, you are yet another “project”, nothing more. In a scrape, they can easily leave you.

IP ownership, teamwork, and many other important aspects — forget about trying to get it all together with a bunch of freelancers.

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Professional Development Team

Hiring a development team of professionals from a mobile app development company is the smart option. It‘s not just a bunch of individuals who don’t know each other from Adam, but a team with already refined and set-in-stone processes and standards. Obviously, you need to make sure to evaluate different teams and pick the best one.

I actually go through this process regularly at DevTeam.Space. I personally interview each development team we hire. We regularly interview new development teams and accept only the best of the best to our exclusive community.

This means that we have a super-tight community of the best development teams where each team is an expert in a particular market or a technology stack.

We then keep track of their performance by rating each development team from project to project. This way, we can guarantee that our clients only work with top-rated dev teams.

Another crucial point is the actual process teams follow. For example, at DevTeam.Space, we have created our own unique agile process and trained all of our dev teams to follow it.

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Every year we effectively manage hundreds of projects, so we know better than anyone the value of effective project management and great developers.

Additional factors that impact the app development team structure and strength

The following additional factors influence the number of people you need in an app development team:

1. Project complexity

Your software development team structure and size are likely to be slightly different if you have a complex project at hand. Complex projects often require more app developers than simple or medium-complexity projects.

2. Technology stack

Do you have a run-of-the-mill native mobile app development project at hand? You need to mitigate niche skills-related risks. You need more software development team members for such projects.

3. Complex UI/UX

Does your app idea involve complex interactive features? You need to put a lot of thought into the user interface and user experience. Consequently, you might need more senior UI/UX designers. You might also need more designers.

4. Complex backend

Certain app development projects involve complex backend development. You might need to develop several APIs. You might need to choose carefully between using SQL vs. NoSQL databases.

Some of the APIs might utilize complex queries. You might need more backend developers for such projects.

5. Stringent non-functional requirements

Some software development projects have stringent non-functional requirements (NFRs) like performance, scalability, security, maintainability, etc.

Highly challenging NFRs can make the whole app development process more complex. This is another factor that could require more developers.

6. Experience level

Do you have access to experienced developers? Such developers have sound knowledge of technology and the app development process.

Their knowledge of the software development processes, methods, and tools is essential. They can better navigate the complexities arising at the various app development stages. This means they are more productive than less experienced developers.

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Planning to Build an App Development Team?

As you can imagine, the hardest part is finding the best mobile application development team to create a successful mobile app. I just described how to do that. So from now on, you should do that too. Here, our guide “Freelance app development team vs. field expert software development teams” can help you.

Now, where is the best place to hire the dev team? Abroad – legal risk and IP ownership risk. If you know how to handle that, then go with the option of a foreign third-party development company.

If you don‘t know, then you are much better off hiring mobile app development companies or a dev team with a legal entity in your country and a physical office with employees. That way, you are fully protected.

If you are looking for such a local mobile app development company in the United States, DevTeam.Space can help you with its expert software developers community and AI-powered project management processes.

If you are developing a mobile application and need to scale your team with additional skills and expertise then take a moment to tell us about your project requirements. One of our dedicated tech account managers will be in touch to show you similar projects we have done before and share how we can help you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What does a mobile app development team do?

A mobile app development team is a group of software development professionals (including UI/UX designer, mobile developer, backend developer, quality assurance engineer, business analyst, project manager) who build, test, launch and maintain software solutions for mobile devices. Mobile app developers create native mobile applications that are designed for one specific operating system and cross-platform apps that can run on both iOS and Android OS.

How much does it cost to create a mobile application?

The answer to this question really depends on the complexity of the mobile application you wish to create for Google Play or Apple App Store. A basic application for mobile devices can be anywhere from a few thousand dollars, while a commercially viable app will be in the tens of thousands and up.

Where to find a mobile app developer?

Head to DevTeam.Space to find the best mobile application development experts. All mobile app developers come with industry experience and have been vetted for excellence. Developers are managed to ensure they maintain performance and quality standards and also to help the client managers.

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Learn more about mobile app development from our expert articles:

  1. Hire Mobile App Developers Guide: 5 Best Companies 2024
  2. How Much Does It Cost to Design a Mobile App?
  3. Mobile App Hosting: Where to Find the Best Provider for Hosting Apps?
  4. How to Design a Mobile App?
  5. How Many People Does It Take to Form An iOS App Development Team?
  6. How Many People Does It Take to form An Android Development Team?
  7. HIPAA Compliant Mobile App Development
  8. How to Convert a Website into an iOS Mobile App?


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Alexey Semeney

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