Characteristics of great dedicated software development teams

11 min read
July 12, 2022

In 2022, the cost of building an app is only getting higher.

Prices may vary but expect a minimum of $40,000 for the simplest of apps. Complex apps tend to hit $300,000.

And if you want Uber-level projects, be prepared for a $1 million or more budget.

Unsurprisingly, labor cost tends to be the most significant expense of any app project.

The good news is that you can lower this significantly by forming a remote, dedicated development team instead of an in-house team.

But to get the cost benefits, you need to have the right dedicated team. Here are the characteristics we think you should look out for.

High level of professionalism

Professionalism is a critical attribute that every dedicated team member should have. Simply put, It’s the bare minimum that you should watch out for.

Essentially, professional people are easy to deal with and are reliable. They give you 100% certainty and peace of mind that they’ll do the job.

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Without a professional work ethic, even highly skilled individuals are useless to a business.

But what constitutes professionalism, exactly?

You can look at professionalism as a mix of hard skills and soft skills.

hard skill vsa soft skill

Hard skills are the skills that a person needs to perform their job. It’s their expertise like coding or knowledge of specific technologies like Jira or Kubernetes.

Basically, anything that can be quantified or measured is a hard skill.

Of course, we expect professionals to have a high level of hard skills in their niche. But while it’s a crucial criterion, it’s not the only measure of professionalism.

See, there’s the other side to it – soft skills.

Soft skills are the skills a person needs to work with others.

It’s the social aspect that’s arguably crucial in a team setting because, without it, it would be impossible to work with that person.

Many view soft skills as even more important than hard skills, to a certain degree. You can see this in the nice breakdown of professionalism from the folks at job search platform Indeed:

10 qualities of professional people

Source: Indeed

Notice that expertise is the only hard skill on the list, and all the others are soft skills.

By the way, the above is a good checklist for evaluating your dedicated team.

For example, let’s look at accountability. It means a person admits any mistakes they make and, more importantly, owns up to them.

Suppose you see some team members trying to cover up coding errors or putting the blame on others. In that case, that’s a red flag against accountability.

The challenge with soft skills is that they can be difficult to measure. The best way to gauge it is through clear communication—yet another characteristic of great dedicated software teams.

Clear communication

Clear communication is a powerful thing, essential for every team’s success. Without it, teamwork is impossible.

It’s especially critical in today’s digital world, where remote teams and work-from-home (WFH) setups are becoming the norm.

And when you look at the studies, you’ll find that communication is the #1 struggle in this scenario.

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But effective team communication is worth the trouble because it’s the only way to uncover and fix issues, reveal opportunities, and brainstorm innovative features.

How so?

Well, it’s simple. Good communication fosters an ideal work environment, which empowers teams to do their best work.

And that leads to amazing apps that hit targets, solve problems, and generate revenue.

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Lack of communication can be detrimental to your app. And the worst thing is that it’s not readily apparent.

Classic red flags include low morale, missed deadlines, poor output, and a high staff turnover.

Knowing the importance of clear communication is one thing. But what does it look like? Here’s a good take from Science for Work.

Team communication

Source: Science for Work

As you can see, there are two sides to it—content and process.

The content of the communication largely rests on behavior. In other words, team members must be mindful of relaying facts concisely and clearly.

Everyone should always assume everyone else is busy, so communication must be straight to the point.

Then there’s the process, which depends on systems and tools. One crucial factor is that members should have the right platforms for synchronous and asynchronous communication.

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Source: Doist

For example, urgent meetings and collaborations should happen synchronously on a platform like Zoom.

On the other hand, quicker messages with less urgency can be done with Slack or email.

However, one common point of miscommunication can happen if team members aren’t clear on what they’re supposed to do. That’s why defining everyone’s role is vital.

Clear roles within the team

Before your team starts doing anything, they must clearly grasp their roles and responsibilities. Not doing so risks creating confusion and inefficiencies.

Before we move on, let’s define some of the key roles in a mobile app development team:

Frame 1724

Ideally, you should have individual team members dedicated to one and only one role in any of the above.

For instance, it’s best not to give developers project management or UX design duties.

One important reason this makes sense is perspective and bias. Some roles simply don’t mix well in an individual.

For example, if one person does coding and testing, they might be unable to test the app thoroughly because they’re too close to the code, or they might be reluctant to revise their work.

See, even though testers and coders want the same output, their approach differs.

programmer and tester cartoon

Source: Shiva Mathivanan

Another important reason is focus. People who dedicate themselves to one skill tend to have higher expertise than those who juggle multiple proficiencies.

That’s because they have spent more time and acquired more experience in a particular field.

For example, Java developers will have better expertise than generalist programmers as they’re exposed to more nuances and best practices.

In other words, you want most team members who are specialists more than generalists.

Group 6065

However, note the keyword most. That’s because there are exceptions to this rule.

Sometimes, you want cross-functional members or people who work in more than one domain.

One good example of this is the project manager. While their main task is ensuring the project is moving as expected, they might also dive into UX or help in programming.

The team might also tap members with relevant subject matter expertise. For instance, if you’re building a health app, a developer with a health background can second as a consultant.

However, you must be careful in managing cross-functional members’ roles and responsibilities to avoid confusion and redundant work.

It’s still best if they have boundaries on what they should and shouldn’t do.

Admittedly, this is challenging, which is why studies show that 75% of cross-functional teams are dysfunctional.

But regardless of whether you’re building a cross-functional or focused team, it’s crucial that you have all the skills needed to finish the project.

Well-balanced team member skills

We mentioned in the above section that your team should have members focused only on one task. However, that advice doesn’t hold anymore if you look at it from the team perspective.

In other words, the most effective teams are all cross-functional. That means they’re composed of members with various complementary skills and backgrounds.

Cross-functional teams are much more effective and faster at solving problems since they can tackle anything that comes their way.

However, effective cross-functional teams are also highly specialized. That means the skills they have depends on the nature and scope of your app.

Thus, as a rule of thumb, you should take stock of these during the planning stage.

The best example here is when building Fintech apps.

Apart from essential roles like developers and testers, financial apps also need experts to handle cybersecurity, banking integrations, and compliance.

Thus, it would help if you hire individuals dedicated to these responsibilities.

You should also consult your technical team to determine the technologies and platforms you’ll need. If that’s not possible, a good vendor or app agency can do that for you.

top skill

As you can see, you can only know the skills that you need to hire through careful planning and goal setting. And this, it turns out, is also an important trait for effective dedicated teams.

The team has clear goals

The best teams should have processes for tracking their goals.

They often (and should) have a project manager that monitors milestones and the team’s overall progress. They also take goals seriously.

That’s why they have a large place (such as a whiteboard) where goals and tasks are visible for everyone to see.

But tracking goals is useless if you don’t set the right ones. Great teams know that every action they take should align with the client’s overarching objective.

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However, even the best, most dedicated team with exceptional goal-setting processes will still be ineffective if you don’t provide the big picture.

As the client, it’s your job to establish the ultimate goal the team should aim for.

Great dedicated software teams always have clients that provide complete software requirements. That way, the team can pivot their daily tasks toward achieving that.

Software requirements should cover every aspect of your app, as illustrated below:

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When hiring your team or the agency that will form your team, it’s important to have a pre-hire chat.

This is where you clarify your app’s vision and requirements, then align that with what the team needs to do.

Some of the important points to discuss in a pre-hire chat include the following:

align youir goals

Pre-hire chats help create transparency, which in turn helps develop clear goals to aim for. And that’s how to achieve dedicated teams that get the job done within your timeframe.

Adaptability

One final trait any dedicated software development team should have is flexibility and adaptability.

The thing is, not all clients are the same. Each has different processes and methods, as well as various technologies and platforms.

A good dedicated team functions as if they were hired in-house. They adapt their pipeline quickly to that of the client, and they also use the same tools they do.

In other words, 100% alignment.

This is important because it’s more difficult for a company to adapt to a team’s working style than it is for the reverse. That way, app development can gain traction much faster.

That’s our approach here at DECODE. For example, we have our software tools for communication and collaboration.

But if you prefer to, say, rely on Slack for daily updates, we’ll happily use that.

Another reason flexibility is important is that things won’t always go as planned.

For example, the team might realize in the middle of development that a feature might not be ideal. Or usability testing might reveal that the UI is not sitting well with users.

In these cases, pivoting quickly to a new direction is crucial to success in a saturated app market.

You can gauge a team’s adaptability by the methodology that they use.

For instance, our team at DECODE prefers the Agile methodology.

Agile methodology

Source: DECODE

This methodology divides development into sprints, including reviewing, building, and testing rounds. After every session, the app is sent to the client for feedback.

Any changes are then incorporated in the next sprint session.

The great thing about Agile methodology is that testing and reviewing are done throughout development. That gives us greater adaptability to changing requirements.

Searching for a great dedicated team?

After reading this article, we hope you have a better idea of how to form a dedicated software development team.

However, the harsh truth is that teams with all the above characteristics are rare. They take time, experience, and expertise to form.

Luckily, these are the exact things that DECODE has.

We’ve spent the last ten years forming a talent pool of over 70+ experts with successful projects under their belt.

Collectively, we’ve achieved 30 million downloads across all apps we’ve worked on.

We believe we’re exactly what you need for your next dedicated team!

Interested? Shoot us an email or leave a message!

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Written by

Mario Zderic

Co-founder and COO

Mario makes every project run smoothly. A firm believer that people are DECODE’s most vital resource, he naturally grew into the role of People Operations Manager. Now, his encyclopaedic knowledge of every DECODEr’s role, and his expertise in all things tech, powers him to manage his huge range of responsibilities as COO. Part developer, and seemingly part therapist, Mario is always calm under pressure, which helps to maintain the office’s stress-free vibe. In fact, sitting and thinking is his main hobby. What’s more Zen than that?

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