apple development team

How Many People Does It Take to Form An iOS App Development Team?

Estimated read time: 7 minutes

Do you plan to undertake an iOS development project? You need an iOS app development team, and you need to know how many people you need. Read on, as we explain that.

General guidelines to estimate the number of people in an iOS mobile app development team

We provide the following general guidelines for an iOS software development team structure and the number of people needed:

A. The number of people needed in a simple iOS app development project

Do you have a simple iOS development project? We recommend the following mobile development team structure and number of people:

  • 1 project manager (PM);
  • 1 product owner;
  • 1 user interface (UI) designer;
  • 2-3 iOS app developers;
  • 1-2 testers/QA engineers;
  • 1 DevOps engineer.

B. The number of team members needed in a medium-complexity iOS app development project

How many people do you need in a medium-complexity iOS development project? What is the preferred app development team structure? We recommend the following:

  • 1 project manager (PM);
  • 1 product owner;
  • 1 business analyst (BA);
  • 1 user interface (UI) designer;
  • 4-6 iOS developers;
  • 2-3 quality assurance engineers/testers;
  • 1 DevOps engineer.

C. The number of software development team members needed in a complex iOS development project

What is the preferred software development team structure for a complex iOS development project? How many people do you need in such a team? Our recommendations are as follows:

  • 1 PM;
  • 1 product owner;
  • 1 BA;
  • 1 software architect;
  • 1 UI designer;
  • 6-8 iOS developers;
  • 2-3 programmers with the relevant niche skills like AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning), IoT (Internet of Things), etc.;
  • 4-6 testers/QA engineers;
  • 2 DevOps engineers.

Assumptions for the general guidelines to estimate the number of people in an iOS development team

We make the following assumptions when estimating the number of people in an iOS application development team:

A. You will hire mobile app developers from an app development company

Do you already have an in-house team for iOS development? If you don’t, then we assume that you will hire full-time developers from a mobile app development company.

Our estimation guidelines assume that you have either a dedicated team or dedicated developers. Hybrid software development companies like DevTeam.Space provide such programmers.


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Full-time developers can devote sufficient time and energy to your project. Mobile app development companies like DevTeam.Space offer highly skilled and experienced developers.

Such companies provide comprehensive growth opportunities. Therefore, their developers demonstrate a high degree of motivation. Companies like DevTeam.Space offer both complete development teams and individual developers.

What if you hire Android and iOS developers from freelance platforms? Freelancers don’t work full-time on your project. You might not get sufficient bandwidth from them.

Furthermore, freelancers hired separately might not form cohesive app development teams. You will need to integrate their work. Therefore, you might end up spending a lot more time on the whole app development process.

These factors introduce unpredictability. This is why we assume you hire full-time developers from hybrid software development companies.

B. You will follow the established app development processes

We assume that you will follow the standard mobile app development processes. These processes bring predictability, therefore, you can use an estimation guideline.

You shouldn’t burden your team with too many development process overheads. However, we assume that you will follow the app development processes relevant to the agile methodology.

Our estimation guidelines assume that you will use tools like Xcode, XCTest, applicable code versioning tools, etc. We also assume that you will implement robust code review and testing processes. You should use established bug tracking systems to manage defects effectively.

C. You will have an app development team with sufficiently experienced developers

We assume that you will have a reasonable and practical mix of senior and junior programmers. Don’t use a too-heavy or too-light mix of experience when planning an iOS development team structure.

An iOS team to develop a successful app needs the following mix of experience:

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  • 20-30% experienced programmers;
  • 50-60% developers with a medium level of experience;
  • 10-20% junior programmers.

You can try to build a team with too many senior developers. However, your hiring lead time will increase. Your manpower costs will increase too. A team with too many junior developers will need many more people.

D. You will use the agile methodology for software development

We assume that you will use the agile methodology for iOS app development. Furthermore, we assume that you will use the scrum framework. You can use our estimation guidelines for iterations in agile projects. These iterations are called “sprints” in the scrum framework.

Traditional estimation models require a set of finalized business requirements. You also need a set of finalized non-functional requirements (NFRs). These estimation models catered to the waterfall methodology.

However, iOS or Android app development teams don’t have such a finalized list of app features initially. You might only have an app idea to start with. You could create an initial app prototype, and your business stakeholders might identify a few key functionalities.

Subsequently, you might launch an MVP (minimum viable product). It’s a functional product with fewer features. You might test the market with it. After analyzing the market feedback, you might develop a full-fledged mobile app in iterations.

You should use the agile methodology and scrum framework for such projects. We calculated the number of people needed in an iOS app development team assuming iterative development.

E. You will utilize an MBaaS (Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service) platform for project development

We don’t include a mobile backend developer in our estimation guidelines. That’s because we assume that you will use an MBaaS (Mobile-Backend-as-a-Service) platform.

Several prominent cloud providers have MBaaS offerings. An MBaaS platform manages the cloud infrastructure and cloud storage. Apart from managing persistent storage, MBaaS platforms make it easier to implement features like push notifications and user management.

These factors make it easy to develop and manage the mobile backend. You don’t need backend developers if you use a robust MBaaS platform. You can focus on the mobile front end and operational logic.

F. The skills that you need in your iOS mobile application development team

Our estimation guidelines for developing iOS mobile apps assume that you will use skills within a certain broad range. These ranges are as follows:

  • In simple projects to develop native apps for iOS, you will need Swift developers.
  • You will need Swift skills for medium-complexity projects too.
  • In complex projects, you might need niche skills in addition to iOS development skills. The features you offer will drive the niche skill requirements. We categorize IoT, blockchain, AI/ML, AR, and VR as niche skills.
  • You need testers with iOS mobile testing skills.
  • DevOps engineers should have standard DevOps PM&T (processes, methods, and tools) skills.

G. You will use the established criteria to define simple, medium-complexity, and complex apps

We assume that you will use the following criteria to categorize your project as simple, medium-complexity, or complex:

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1. Simple iOS development projects

A simple iOS development project has the following characteristics:

  • Your proposed app with use a standard UI design.
  • You will utilize established and industry-standard login and user authentication processes.
  • The app offers user management functionality.
  • You will have standard administrative features.
  • The app has standard features like mapping support, push notifications, etc.

2. Medium-complexity iOS development projects

An iOS development project meeting the following criteria is “medium-complexity”:

  • The app has a customized UI.
  • It has features like in-app messaging and payment.
  • You need to create simple APIs and integrate 3rd party APIs.
  • The app has simple database queries and a simple backend.

3. Complex iOS development projects

A complex iOS development project has the following characteristics:

  • A UI with a high degree of customization;
  • Stringent security, performance, and scalability requirements;
  • Complex features like streaming, in-app chats, and real-time data synchronization;
  • Complex APIs;
  • Integration with several 3rd party APIs;
  • A complex mobile backend with complex database operations;
  • Features that use cutting-edge technologies like AI, ML, AR, VR, IoT, or blockchain.

H. If you use complex technologies, then you will use the tested and commercially-available technologies

We assume you will use generally-available technologies. Our estimation guidelines factor in the use of complex technologies. E.g., we take into account the use of advanced technologies like AR (augmented reality), blockchain, IoT, AI, and ML. However, these are commercially available and tested technologies.

We assume that you will not use technologies that are still under development. You don’t have benchmarks for untested technologies, furthermore, you won’t get developers for such skills. There is a higher degree of unpredictability. This is why we assume the use of tested and generally-available technologies.

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1. Should I use Swift or Objective-C in my iOS mobile app development project?

We recommend you use Swift for developing iOS mobile apps. Although Objective-C offers many advantages, Swift is a more powerful and modern language. It offers excellent performance, security, and maintainability. Swift offers high productivity to iOS developers.

2. I already have an Android app. Can I reuse any of that work?

You can reuse the requirements documents, technical solutions, technical specifications, test strategies, test plans, cloud hosting, databases, database schemas, and APIs. However, you need to code the iOS mobile application from scratch.

3. Should iPhone app developers use the Apple Core Foundation framework?

We recommend iOS mobile app developers use the Core Foundation framework. It provides many advantages when you develop iOS native apps. You can access low-level functions and primitive data types with the help of this framework.


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