Software Development: What are the Key Roles in the Team?

Many people think that to create an app, it is enough to hire a single developer. However, as the complexity grows and the development time increases, it becomes clear that someone has to perform other roles, even if they are not clearly defined.

Software development is carried out within the framework of projects. The time frames, the desired result, and the budget are clearly outlined. Every project also includes human resources, and it is crucial to properly select participants because this influences the required budget. So, let’s try to figure out who is involved in project development and what duties they have.

10 Key Roles in the Software Development Team

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“When analyzing the project roles, it is necessary to understand that a typical employee from a company can play several roles at once, and also participate in different projects in different roles.” – as mentioned by Sebastian Streiffert, the chief marketing officer of Beetroot, in one of his recent articles.

We will talk later about the combination of roles. Let’s pay attention now to the main roles and positions of a software development project team:

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1. Project Manager

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This person sets up a project plan and takes responsibility for its implementation. He or she receives pieces of the plan from the staff, brings them together, and verifies their consistency. PM is in charge of making reports for team members and delivering the result on time and within a certain budget. Besides, they perform the following tasks:

  • Conduct a regular (weekly) review of the plan with the customer and the project team;
  • Adapt the plan in accordance with the client’s requests;
  • Write weekly project reports;
  • Inform the client and the staff about the problems and try to solve them within a budget, etc.

Basically, the PM is in charge of the project’s KPI. According to statistics, only a few development projects are completed on time with the established KPI and within the initial budget. Whether something goes wrong, the PM ultimately takes responsibility for the product release postponing, updates’ bugs, etc.

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2. Analyst

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The analyst is responsible for writing and keeping up-to-date requirements. In particular, he/she is the main negotiator with the client on project requirements. This person writes recommendations for the project, reviews them with stakeholders, architects, and leading developers. Also, an analyst reviews test plans, explain difficulties to testers, and can also take part in code testing. This person can also participate in the review of the top-level development.

Complex projects may require a group of analysts and a lead, responsible for the team.

3. Architect

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This person develops the architecture for the project. For large projects, an architect should be a full-time employee. This team member is responsible for high-level documents (HLD), alignment of architecture with the customer technical requirements. He/she structures the project, distributes tasks between developers, and helps them with difficult issues.

4. Leading Developer (Team Lead)

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In small projects without dedicated architects, leading developers are responsible for all development tasks. They appoint developers, review the plan, and stipulate deadlines for them. Besides, they perform the following tasks:

  • Accept work from developers and perform code review;
  • Merge branches in the repository and make sure that only tested and relevant code gets into the main branch;
  • Write project documents;
  • Train employees and help them with difficult issues;
  • Write code.
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5. Developer

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This person writes the code for the project. He or she reads the requirements, analyzes complex areas with an analyst, accepts development tasks from a team lead or an architect, and, if necessary, gives feedback. Their direct responsibilities are:

  • Developing code components and unit tests;
  • Running tests;
  • Checking if the implemented functionality meets the requirements;
  • Receiving tickets from testers and corrects errors;
  • Taking part in testing in difficult cases.

Without written and compiled code, there will be no app. That is why developers cannot be excluded, even if some apps are created in a simple visual constructor, which is also a kind of programming.

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6. QA-Specialist/Tester

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These are the people who check if the app is working correctly. Moreover, correctly does not always mean user-friendly. The tester can write a usability note, but their primary concern is to make sure that the app works according to the requirements and specifications. They can test apps both manually or by using autotests.

As for analysts, testers can be assigned by project subsystem or testing methods. If there is more than one tester, one of them should be appointed as a team lead. If there are no dedicated testers in the project staff, their functions are usually delegated to developers. At the same time, it is considered that developers cannot correctly test their own codes, and therefore cross-testing is a better option.

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7. Designer

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This is a person who determines how the app will look and operate. The designer has to think over the elements’ location, movement schemes, animations, etc. Complex apps may require several designers. For example, one designer can draw the interface, while the other can think over the whole concept of user interaction. Some software development companies do not have designers, so developers might take this role for simple projects. The main tasks of the designer are the following:

  • ScreenFlow development;
  • Screen prototyping;
  • Optimization of user interaction (giving recommendations);
  • Consulting the development team.

Sometimes a designer together with the programmers is responsible for some errors in the application. For example, it may be quite difficult to implement the design ideas of the customer, so the probability of making errors increases. Consequently, all the failures are associated with the work of the designer.

8. System Administrator/DevOps Officer

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This team member is responsible for the continuous delivery and continuous integration workflow, the organization of interaction between systems, deployment, identifying problems during the testing. They take part in planning and working on data migration and synchronization. Besides, they perform the following tasks:

  • Write a guide to system deployment and administration;
  • Interact with customers;
  • Compose and structure the system hardware;
  • Install VPNs and cope with firewalls;
  • Deploy the system without programmers.
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9. Head of the Development Department

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This person takes part in the formation of project teams. They are responsible for the qualifications of employees, so their job is to organize training, monitor the career growth of employees. Besides, they are also responsible for comfort in the workplace.

10. Customer/Product Owner

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This is the main team member who determines the entire course of product creation. This person decides what needs to be done and evaluates whether the implementation is in line with the product concept or not. In particular, a responsible product owner performs the following tasks:

  • Defines the concept of the product;
  • Creates a marketing strategy;
  • Makes the competitor analysis;
  • Performs the development status control;
  • Choice of product strategy and methods of monetization;
  • Generates the ideas of business performance improving;
  • Evaluates product quality.

So, the main objective of this person is to make sure that the product corresponds to the business goals.

Typical Combination of Roles

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Sometimes when discussing the results, clients say that the developers have done something wrong. Such a situation may appear if some members of the project staff have to perform several roles at once. This problem usually arises when there is a lack of financial resources to hire a group of developers. Sometimes, the combination of roles can bring positive results. For instance, the following options are possible:

  • Analyst + tester – it sounds good, but such a person will cost you a fortune;
  • Project manager + analyst – such option is acceptable in a small project;
  • Architect + leading developer – this is ok in small projects;
  • Project manager + leading developer – for smaller projects with an experienced team of programmers and testers, you can try this option as well;
  • Developer + designer – possible in case of a skillful team of developers.

Meanwhile, there are also team roles that should not be combined in a software development project if possible:

  • Developer + tester – not allowed.
  • Architect + Analyst – at first glance, it sounds acceptable but overall, it is not an option. These two roles are a bit antagonistic.

As you can see, while some positions are possible to merge, others will make an explosive mixture that will damage the final outcome. Try to avoid combining roles or make sure to invest enough time in project development.

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In Conclusion

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Now you know who is who in the project development team. If you consider developing an app for Android or iOS, you will know what kind of people you need to find. Meanwhile, key roles can significantly vary depending on the type of project. If you want to create the software from scratch, you need a different team from those implementing an ERP system or installing a BI app for the customer’s top management.

If you hire your own team, you have to maintain a full staff of employees, even when they are not involved or not fully involved in your current projects. In reality, most projects do not require a full-time designer, sysadmin, or tester. Therefore, hiring a dedicated development team or giving this job for outsourcing can be a good idea.

What software development roles were useful for your project and for your team? Share your experience with us in the comments.

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Article Published by Souvik

SouvikWeb Developer & SEO Specialist with 10+ years of experience in Open Source Web Development, specialized in Joomla & WordPress development. He is also the moderator of this blog "RS Web Solutions".

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