How to Build an App Development Team

build software development team

Planning to launch a software application that is of the highest strategic importance to your organization? If you are then you will need a great app development team.

If you are reading this then you are wondering how to build an app development team? DevTeam.Space has put together this guide to help you.

Before we jump in, here are a few recent projects our field expert developers and dev teams have completed recently:

1.       An algorithmic trading solution: A DevTeam.Space team developed an algorithmic trading solution involving 4 major cryptocurrency exchanges.

2.       Adventure Aide: A software development team from DevTeam.Space created Adventure Aide, a tourism and recreation app.

3.       An image recognition system for NEC: A DevTeam.Space team developed an image recognition system for NEC, which also used machine learning (ML).

Let’s now understand what it takes to build great software product development teams. Take the following steps:

Contents

1. Analyze your project scope, e.g., web development, mobile development, etc.
2. Consider various choices for building a software development team
3. Review the roles you need to hire, e.g., project managers, programmers, etc.
4. Determine your skill requirements
5. Interview the shortlisted candidates
6. Induct and form your app development team
Final thoughts

1. Analyze your project scope, e.g., web development, mobile development, etc.

Have thorough discussions with product managers and other business stakeholders to understand the project scope. Your project might involve one or more of the following:

·         Web development;

·         Developing native apps for Android and iOS;

·         Building cross-platform or hybrid apps;

·         Creating an Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) system;

·         Developing a blockchain app;

·         Executing a data science project;

·         Building an IoT (Internet of Things) app.

Plan for hiring a team based on your project scope.

2. Consider various choices for building a software development team

Wear the hat of a strategist and decide what you want as far as a software development team is concerned. Your next steps depend on the clarity you gain during this stage.

You have the following options:

A. Hiring freelancers

Many startups don’t have enough developers in-house. They might not be able to afford a high lead time for hiring, furthermore, they might have budget constraints. Do you find yourself in this situation? You might think of hiring freelancers from one of the freelance platforms.

The entire responsibility of screening the candidates falls on you. This includes checking their LinkedIn profile, reviewing their project portfolio, interviews, etc.

You might find developers at a low hourly rate. This approach might work for relatively simple projects like e-Commerce website development. However, we don’t recommend this approach for complex projects.

You will find it hard to manage a complex project with part-time freelancers. Freelance platforms don’t offer any management support. You need to find replacements if freelancers leave your project mid-way. Differences in time zone can make it hard for you to manage the work of a freelancer.

B. Hiring people from a trustworthy software development company

We recommend this approach if you have a complex project. Trustworthy software development companies offer full-time developers. They can also provide QA (quality assurance) specialists, UI designers, etc.

Reputed software development companies regularly encourage their developers to upskill themselves. As a result, developers have higher motivation.

Trustworthy software development companies provide management support. They provide replacements in the case of turnovers.

C. Outsourcing the entire software development process

This approach differs fundamentally since here you aren’t looking to fill development team roles anymore. You want a software development company to deliver your project from end to end.

You won’t monitor the work of various development team members like programmers, testers, etc. The software development company needs to have experienced project managers (PMs) to oversee the project.

You provide the business requirements, and you evaluate software development service providers. You typically use a structured procurement process including RFP (Request for Proposal), proposal review, etc. The selected service provider enters into an outsourcing contract with you. You govern that contract.

This approach eliminates the software development-related tasks for you. However, you lose control over the project execution. You need regular reviews to understand the progress of the project.  

3. Review the roles you need to hire, e.g., project managers, programmers, etc.

Which software development team roles do you need? Specify this during the hiring process. Mention the experience level required. If you need experience in a particular industry, specify that.

You might need several of the following roles:

·         Project manager (PM): You need this in nearly every project unless you have an experienced PM in-house.

·         Software architect: Specify what kind of software development experience you need, e.g., web development, mobile development, blockchain, etc.

·         Business analysts: Specify any industry experience that you need.

·         Web developers: Mention the level of experience you need.

·         Mobile developers: Specify whether you need native or cross-platform mobile developers.

·         Testers: Mention your requirements, e.g., functional testing, test automation, performance testing, security testing, etc.

·         DevOps engineers: Specify your choice of DevOps tools.

·         AI/ML developers: Specify whether you want programmers to develop AI/ML algorithms from scratch.

·         Data science project roles: Data science projects involve roles like MIS reporting executives, data analysts, DBAs (database administrators), statisticians, ML engineers, data scientists, data architects, and big data engineers. 

4. Determine your skill requirements

Your skill requirements depend on your project scope. The mapping of skill set requirements with the project scope are as follows:

A. Native android development

If you undertake a native Android development project, then you need developers with the following skills:

Programming languages like Java or Kotlin

Java and Kotlin work optimally with the Android operating system. Both are powerful languages with extensive features.

Developers can gain productivity, and both languages prevent common coding errors. Java is more popular. Kotlin is a relatively new language.

Material Design guidelines

You need developers that understand the Material Design guidelines very well. Android apps need to comply with these guidelines for the user interface (UI) design.

Tools and resources

You need to programmers that know the following:

·         Android Studio, the popular IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for native Android development;

·         Espresso, the popular tool for testing Android apps;

·         Android developer documentation for publishing Android apps.

B. Native iOS development

You need programmers with the following skills for native iOS development:

Programming languages like Swift or Objective-C

Objective-C was the mainstay for iOS development for a long time. Apple now prefers Swift, a more modern language.

Both are feature-rich languages. They work well with Apple’s platforms like iPhone, iPad, etc. However, Swift offers excellent productivity to developers. It also prevents many common programming errors.

Human Interface Guidelines

Apple requires UI designers to use the Human Interface Guidelines for app design. To deliver the right user experience, iOS developers should know how to code in line with these guidelines.

Tools and resources for iOS development

You need developers that know the following:

·         Xcode: It’s the popular IDE to develop apps for Apple’s platforms.

·         XCTest: iOS developers should use this popular framework for testing.

iOS developers should know the process to submit apps to the Apple App Store.

C. Cross-platform mobile development

Cross-platform mobile development involves one codebase to execute the app on both iOS and Android. This approach can reduce development and maintenance costs. It can’t match the native user experience, performance, and security fully.

React Native, a modern cross-platform mobile framework can provide a near-native user experience. Flutter is another popular cross-platform mobile framework coming close to the native user experience. Look for mobile developers with these skills if opt for cross-platform development.

D. Web development

Organizations use different technologies for web development. We recommend you use JavaScript-based technologies. JavaScript, an open-source programming language has a rich ecosystem.

Technology stacks like MEAN (“MongoDB-Express.js-Angular-Node.js”) and MERN (“MongoDB-Express.js-React-Node.js”) are popular. You can use JavaScript, HTML, and CSS for front-end development. Alternatively, you can use JavaScript-based web frameworks like Angular and React.js.

Many options like PHP, Python, and Java exist for back-end development. Node.js is a good option if you use a JavaScript-based technology stack. Many developers know this open-source runtime environment for JavaScript. Programmers can use many open-source Node.js tools and frameworks to expedite their projects.    

E. Data science system development

If you plan to execute a data science project, then you need a team with a thorough understanding of data science. The team needs the following skill sets:

·         Statistics;

·         Data visualization tools like Tableau;

·         Programming languages like Python, R, C++, Java, and JavaScript;

·         Libraries like NumPy, SciPy, BeautifulSoup, Scrappy, Pandas, Matplotlib, Plotly, Seaborn, Scikit Learn, TensorFlow, Keras, and PyTorch;

·         SQL databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.;

·         NoSQL databases like MongoDB;

·         HTML;

·         Data storage and retrieval systems;

·         ETL tools;

·         Messaging systems like RabbitMQ;

·         Hadoop-based analytics;

·         Data mining;

·         Data munging;

·         AI/ML;

·         Tools like Hive, SAS, MATLAB, SPSS, Spark, etc.;

·         Big data and associated tools like SparkML;

·         Pig, Hadoop, MapReduce, etc.;

·         Developing algorithms;

·         Data warehousing.

You need a DBA in a data science project team. The DBA skill sets are as follows:

·         Data modeling and database design;

·         Repository and metadata management;

·         Designing and managing database schemas;

·         Database performance tuning;

·         Optimization;

·         The knowledge of managing database capacity, availability, and security;

·         Designing and developing stores procedures;

·         Data storage systems.

F. AI/ML development

You can take any of the two approaches for AI/ML development. These are using an AI platform, and developing AI/ML systems from scratch, respectively.

You can use an AI/ML platform and reduce some of the coding work. This approach works very well if you have standard requirements like creating bots, making product recommendations, etc. Look for developers with experience in top AI/ML platforms, e.g.:

·         Google Cloud AI;

·         Amazon AI services;

·         Microsoft Azure AI;

·         H2O.ai;

·         IBM Watson Studio;

·         DataRobot.

The second approach involves creating AI and ML algorithms from scratch. This approach involves more complexities, and you need experienced programmers.

Look for Python developers. Python offers excellent libraries to make AI/ML development easier. You should expect developers to know about the following libraries:

·         NumPy;

·         SciPy;

·         Scikit-learn;

·         Theano;

·         TensorFlow;

·         Keras;

·         PyTorch;

·         Pandas;

·         Matplotlib.

G. IoT development

You can take one of the two following approaches for IoT development:

·         Using an IoT development platform;

·         Developing an IoT system from scratch.

The first approach reduces the coding work for your team. Look for programmers that are familiar with the following top IoT development platforms:

·         Google Cloud IoT;

·         Cisco IoT Cloud Connect;

·         Salesforce IoT Cloud;

·         IRI Voracity;

·         Particle;

·         IBM Watson IoT;

·         ThingWorx;

·         Amazon AWS IoT Core;

·         Microsoft Azure IoT Hub;

·         Oracle IoT.

The second approach involves more coding. Look for developers with the following skill sets:

·         Programming languages like JavaScript or Python;

·         Node.js;

·         Application security;

·         Big data tools;

·         Cloud computing;

·         AI/ML development.

H. Blockchain development

Are you undertaking a blockchain development project involving a public blockchain? We recommend you develop it using the Ethereum blockchain platform.

There’s a rich ecosystem of Ethereum development tools. They help developers significantly. Look for Ethereum blockchain developers with Solidity skills. Solidity is a proprietary language of the Ethereum project team for smart contract development.

Ethereum developers should be familiar with other development and testing tools, e.g.:

·         Ganache, an Ethereum client;

·         Web3.js, a JavaScript-based Ethereum API;

·         Truffle, a tool to organize and deploy smart contracts;

·         MetaMask, a browser extension and crypto wallet;

·         Remix, an IDE to code smart contracts;

·         Ropsten, a test network to test smart contracts.

If you plan to develop a private blockchain system, then we recommend Hyperledger Fabric. This open-source enterprise blockchain framework offers many advantages. They include modular architecture, pluggable components, tooling support, etc.

I. Other software development skills like development methodologies

Look for the following generic software development skills:

·         Knowledge of software development lifecycle (SDLC) phases;

·         Understanding of methodologies like Waterfall and Agile

·         Familiarity with cloud computing platforms like AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, etc.;

·         Knowledge popular architecture patterns like microservice architecture;

·         RESTful API development skills;

·         Knowledge of SQL databases like MySQL, PostgreSQL, etc.;

·         Proficiency with NoSQL databases like MongoDB, Apache Cassandra, etc.;

·         Code review skills;

·         In-depth understanding of functional requirements and non-functional requirements (NFRs).

J. User interface (UI) design

You will need UI designers with the knowledge of popular design tools like Sketch, InVision Studio, Axure, Craft, Adobe XD, etc. UI designers should know how to create wireframes. They need to know the platform-specific guidelines.

K. Key competencies

Look for developers with the following key competencies:

·         Problem-solving skills;

·         Collaboration;

·         Teamwork;

·         Communication skills;

·         The ability to see the bigger picture;

·         Commitment;

·         A passion for excellence.

5. Interview the shortlisted candidates

After you finalize your requirements for job roles and skillsets, you need to provide these requirements to a software development company. They will shortlist potential candidates. You need to interview them.

Evaluate the knowledge of candidates by asking technical questions. However, you also need to evaluate their relevant experience.

Use questions concerning real-world projects to gauge the level of experience for different types of projects. Check out the following examples of such questions along with a few scenarios: 

A. You are building a native mobile app development team

Ask the following:

·         Did the candidate implement the clean architecture in any Android development project?

·         How did the candidate test the app for a wide range of Android devices? Did the project team use a cloud-based mobile testing lab?

·         If the candidate used Kotlin, then how did the language help keep the codebase smaller?

·         Did the programmer use Firebase Cloud Messaging while developing Android apps?

·         Did the candidate use the Apple Core Services while developing an iOS app? Check whether the candidate used frameworks like Core Location, Core Data, Core Media, Core Telephony, etc.

·         Evaluate whether the candidate has experience with the Apple Push Notification services (APNS)?

·         How did the candidate ensure the maintainability of a native iOS app?

·         Did the candidate use any Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service (MBaaS) platform?

B. You need a cross-platform mobile application development team

Check the following:

·         Did the candidate use both React Native and Flutter, two popular cross-platform mobile frameworks? What differences did the candidate notice between them?

·         How did the programmer try to bridge the gaps between the cross-platform and native user experience?

·         What steps did the candidate take to bridge any gaps concerning performance?

·         How did the developer mitigate application security issues?

·         How did the programmer use the custom widgets of Flutter?

·         Does the developer have the experience of writing platform-specific code while using Flutter?

·         Which React Native libraries did the candidate use and why?

C. You want a web development team

Evaluate the following:

·         Did the programmer use any Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) platform?

·         How did the developer make the best use of the Model-View-Controller (MVC) architecture pattern when developing a web app?

·         What steps did the candidate take to build a scalable web application?

·         Did the developer create any GraphQL API?

·         How did the programmer design the API endpoints when developing RESTful APIs?

·         What steps did the coder take to develop effective rules for API requests and responses?

·         How did the candidate document newly developed RESTful APIs?

·         What considerations did the developer have while choosing SQL databases for back-end development? Did the developer consider scalability, concurrency, performance, etc.?

·         Did the candidate use modern distributed SQL databases like CockroachDB?

·         How did a programmer choose which NoSQL database to use? Did the developer evaluate scalability, querying capabilities, etc.?

·         Did the candidate integrate any modern authentication solutions like MFA (multi-factor authentication) when developing a web app?

·         How did the programmer mitigate top application security vulnerabilities like injection, broken authentication, etc.?

·         How did the developer use solutions like encryption, antivirus, and next-generation firewalls to secure a web app?

·         Which DevOps tools did the candidate use?

·         How did a programmer collaborate with testers and DevOps engineers to set up an effective CI (Continuous Integration)/CD (Continuous Delivery) pipeline?

·         How did a developer secure APIs? Did the programmer use solutions like encryption, quotas, API gateways, etc.?

·         Did the programmer use the modern approach named “Compliance-as-Code” to include security and compliance testing in the CI/CD pipeline proactively?

·         Does the developer have experience with popular JavaScript libraries like jQuery?

·         Did the programmer use popular web frameworks like Express.js?

·         Did the candidate develop a web app with streaming capabilities?

·         What kind of inputs did a developer provide to the architect while developing the technical solutions?

D. You have an AI/ML development project at hand

Ask the following:

·         Did the developer create different types of ML algorithms like supervised learning, unsupervised learning, semi-supervised learning, etc.?

·         What steps did developers take to prevent data poisoning attacks when developing AI/ML systems?

·         Did the candidate develop a wide range of AI systems, e.g., Deep Learning (DL), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Computer Vision, Explainable AI, etc.?

·         How did the programmer contribute effectively to various AI software development lifecycle stages?

E. You are planning for a data science project

Check the following:

·         Did data scientists and data analysts use R, MATLAB, SPSS, and SAS? Which one did they prefer and why?

·         Did the candidate use any of the cloud-native relational database services like Amazon RDS?

·         Have the data scientist or data analyst used any of the cloud-native NoSQL databases like Amazon DynamoDB?

·         Did data scientists use popular data visualization tools like Tableau, Power BI, Plotly, etc.? Which one do they like and why?

F. You need a blockchain development team

Evaluate the following:

·         How did blockchain programmers develop scalable Ethereum DApps?

·         Did blockchain developers audit smart contracts?

·         Did Ethereum blockchain developers ensure that smart contracts have simple operations?

·         Which Ethereum standards did developers use, e.g., ERC-20, ERC-721, etc.? Did they create crypto tokens?

·         Did programmers know how to deploy Ethereum smart contracts?

·         Do blockchain developers have familiarity with different blockchain network hosts?

·         Did the candidate develop Ethereum smart contracts on Hyperledger Fabric?

·         Did programmers build an identification app using blockchain?

·         Have the candidate contributed to a blockchain project planning exercise?

6. Induct and form your app development team

After you select suitable developers, you need to induct them into your project. Form a team that focuses on delivering sustained value to end-users.

We recommend you use the Scrum framework for this. Scrum teams demonstrate a high degree of empowerment. They work closely with users. While they use the required processes, they don’t allow overheads.

You need to provide the required documents to the newly formed team. Explain the project background to the team members. Describe the project environment and project plan. Talk about the business requirements in detail.

Provide the required access to the new team members. Introduce the new team to your larger team. Establish a communication process. Set up a thorough review process, and establish accountability. 

The team structures might vary as follows:

A. Mobile app development team structure

A mobile app development team should have UI designers, developers, and testers work closely. Set up a small cross-functional team.

We recommend you use Scrum practices. The team should conduct daily stand-up meetings to discuss and resolve the project issues. Developers and testers should collaborate to expedite the defect resolution process.

B. Web development team structure

We recommend you form a cross-functional team including web developers and testers. The team should work closely with the “Product Owner”, a key role in the Scrum framework.

The team should get requirements from the “Product Owner”. A Scrum team should estimate the requirements and schedule them into different “Sprints”. Sprints are iterations in the Scrum parlance.

The PM should perform the role of a “Scrum Master”. A Scrum team needs review sessions with the business stakeholders to review the app created during a Sprint. This is called the “Sprint review meeting”. Business stakeholders provide approval for a Sprint in these meetings.

Scrum teams should conduct lessons-learned exercises after Sprints. These are called the “Sprint retrospective meetings”.

C. AI/ML development team structure

You might use different types of AI capabilities in your project. E.g., you might use deep learning, natural language processing, vision, speech, and more capabilities.

Such a project might require different developers working on different workstreams. However, the PM needs to integrate their work. This requires adequate communication and collaboration.

Developers also need to collaborate with testers and DevOps engineers. The team structure should prevent silos, and the PM needs to foster open communication.

D. Data science project team structure

Apart from a PM and data scientist, data science projects require different roles like DBAs, data architects, big data engineers, ML engineers, data analysts, etc. The PM needs to provide the overall leadership to this team. However, the data scientist needs to provide leadership for certain aspects.

A data science project involves many aspects, e.g., managing data, transforming data, eliciting business requirements, etc. The most important aspect is to conceptualize and develop a solution to cater to the business requirements. Data scientists must lead this aspect. The team structure must foster close collaboration between the PM and the data scientist.

Final thoughts

We explained how you to build an app development team to deliver your strategic project. Do you need more help? Contact DevTeam.Space, and a dedicated account manager will help you.

FAQs

1. Can DevTeam.Space provide high-quality mobile and web developers?

DevTeam.Space has extensive web and mobile development expertise. We have developed native Android app, native iOS apps, hybrid apps, and web apps. Our developers are experts in front-end development, and we have experienced back-end developers. We can support your requirements.

2. Does DevTeam.Space have experience in the Agile methodology?

DevTeam.Space has executed multiple projects involving the Agile methodology. Our developers know frameworks like Scrum. They have worked closely with users to deliver sustained value. DevTeam.Space developers collaborate with QA engineers, UX designers, and DevOps engineers.

3. Can DevTeam.Space manage the app development process from end-to-end?

DevTeam.Space is a competent app development company that can provide developers as well as deliver an app development project from end to end. We know popular software development methodologies well. Our robust software development processes can support you fully.

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