...It makes little difference whether you have an in-house team or an outsourcing development partner, the number of development team members depends on your vision of the project, i.e. what you expect from your app and how fast you want to deliver it to market. Based on your vision, you and your technical experts determine scope of the work, acceptable timeline and amount of person hours needed to accomplish the project.

In practice, start-ups begin small with a minimum viable product: a solution that has 1-3 core features. Let’s assume you are in the early stage of your project. You have a concept, you plan a prototype or you have just presented it to your investors. Now you look for a development team who will transform your idea into a working solution. You expect your software to be reasonably popular and grow gradually.

So how many people do you need to get the work done?

Usually, 3-6 people comprise a prefect team. You have to keep your team small to keep costs contained and to obtain optimal performance. Teams of this size are flexible, communicate faster than larger teams and have fewer issues with self organisation. Hence, they have higher productivity when it comes to custom software development.

Who do I need to get onboard?

Based on the scope of the work to be done, you will need help of several IT professionals. Here are the typical roles you will need for your squad:

Role Occupation Full-time/part-time Note
UI/UX designer creates intuitive thoughtful interface PT
Front-end developer / Android/iOS developer transforms requirements into code FT Minimum

1 platform = 1 developer *

Back-end developer tunes database and binds it with front-end PT/FT
QA engineers improves code quality FT
Project manager organises smooth workflow and communication PT
Business analyst analyses requirements and makes them understandable for your team PT
Product owner makes final decisions on product development FT/PT Usually, it is you or your representative

*In our company, when there is time only for one full-time developer on the project, we divide this role between two developers to eliminate fall backs.

But wait! There are at least 9 roles and you said the team needs maximum 6 people. Do I need them all?

It depends. While you need foremost the technical experts to implement the technical part of the project, you can save on management doing it by your own. But be careful! If this is your first start-up and you have no strong technical background we highly recommend you to hire a remote team with all its members. This way, you do not ruin the established workflow and can expect maximum productivity.

When you hire an outsource development company, you will have a project manager and a business analyst who work only part-time on your project. This means you have people  who always listen to you and advise you how to reasonably shorten delivery time. Also, these people do not stay idle to acquire extra payment, as happens when you hire business advisors. So you have minimum to nothing overlap.

Also, there are additional roles you are likely to need as soon as you launch your app.

Role Occupation Full-time/part-time
DevOps maintains servers FT/PT
Support service help users with any questions FT
Technical writer writes documentation like manuals, specifications, user guidelines etc. FT/PT

You will have to hire these professionals after you acquire reliable customers and plan an expansion.

Are there any ways to save on development?

Yes, there are. Save on a project, not on people. Remember: it is easier to start anew than to maintain buggy code.

Here is some advice on how you can save on the development process without losing either quality or delivery time:

  • Hire a team when you have a big scope and do not have your own (as mentioned above). You get established workflow and save on coordination.
  • Do not cut on management costs unless you know what you are doing.
  • Buy the expertise. It is worth hiring experienced developers even if they are expensive. They build your solution earlier and with no critical issues. Also, they tell you honestly when something is impossible instead of taking your money for the work they are unable to accomplish.
  • Start and keep small; extend only when you need it.

This way, you deliver your product as early as possible keeping costs to a minimum and ensuring maximum code quality.

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