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When it comes to building a startup, what is the right team size for a software development project? The matter of creating the right team size appears on the agenda each time a new team needs to be organized or an existing team is being assessed. 

On the one hand, quality is always more essential than quantity. But on the other hand, the perfect team needs to have enough resources to be productive and cover all phases of the development life cycle. 

To help you decide on the optimal software development team size, we’ve gathered useful tips from our experts in this article. Enjoy!

The Importance of Software Development Team Size

The recent findings by ResearchGate state that the development platform, programming language, and team size are key factors influencing the productivity of software development. We’ll focus on the last one to show you how human resources are vital to project success.

Any project presupposes teamwork and can’t be completed effectively by one person. Your IT project might need several people working on it. However, if the team has too many members there is a hazard for the productivity level of each member to go down with the team’s growth. This theory has been called “Social Loafing” or the “Ringelmann Effect”.

The Ringlemann effect theory stipulates that a company can achieve much more with a greater number of team members, but the individual members of the larger team are less productive than their counterparts in smaller teams. According to this theory, the individual efforts of each group member decrease due to the larger workforce.

The “Ringelmann Effect” has been proven in the course of research. It illustrates the dynamics of team size. Through a series of experiments involving large groups of people pulling a rope, Maximilien Ringlemann concluded that individual contributions were decreasing for every person who is added beyond 5-6 people who pulled a rope.

Consequently, some employees might want to weaken their work resolve at their workplaces thinking that their lack of effort will be complemented by the overall team’s greater effort. Others won’t simply work hard as they did before because their efforts may be unacknowledged. Even if the company increases in overall output, it’s not where it should be when their individual productivity level decreases.

In the case of software development team size, the “Ringelmann Effect” is avoided by keeping the number of professionals to fill all necessary roles to a minimum. A competent PM selects the exact number of specialists for an IT project, oversees their work, and motivates the team to mitigate the “Ringelmann Effect.”

Now let’s go further with the factors you should consider when determining the right software development team size.

Factors to Consider When Building a Perfect Development Team

Before starting a hiring process, think about the key factors influencing the number of specialists required for the particular project. Below, we’ve gathered the most valuable things to consider when deciding on the software development team size. 

Project complexity

The project scope and complexity define the number of tasks, specialists, and resources. That’s why you need to assess the scope of your project first and then decide on the team size required to cover every stage. 

For example, when you start a project from scratch, you’ll need a bigger team rather than when you need some redesign or rebuilding. Project complexity may also depend on the industry and type of software. 

Balance in skillset

How many people do you need to fill the unique roles and responsibilities on the team? You should make sure that there is no skills gap in your team. On the other hand, too many people with the same skills in your team might lead some people to loaf and be less productive. 

Thus, try to keep a balance between required skills and avoid duplication of competencies. An employee skills matrix is a great way to help teams distribute the skills among specialists the right way. Here is an example of such a matrix:

Project’s timeframe

Work that should be completed quickly calls for a larger team with more hands on deck to do all the necessary work on time. Longer-term projects can be best accomplished by smaller teams as they tend to be more cohesive and less friction-oriented. 

Typically, people are more open to sharing their joys and pains about their work in a small group environment. Additionally, such teams are easier to monitor and are the most active “rope-pullers.

Budget capacity

Your software development team size may greatly depend on your budget. If your project runs on a shoe-string budget, we recommend you to focus on the alternative employment models rather than hiring fewer in-house specialists for your project. 

For example, you can choose between freelance, part-time, contract, or outsourcing options. Based on our deep expertise in gathering dedicated development teams, we can say that outsourcing is one of the best-working and reliable employment models in the software development industry today. You can hire the brightest IT minds from any corner of the world according to your budget, goals, and required skill set.

What is the Ideal Size of Development Teams?

In most cases, software development teams work according to Scrum, Kanban and other Agile methodologies. Scrum is an iterative and incremental agile software development method for managing software projects and product or application development. Moreover, Scrum is the agile project management framework that is widely used in software development. 

Agile has mainly two roles within it: primary or required and optional roles that depend on the project needs. For example, a software development team may include, but not be limited to, the following roles:


  • Project manager (PM)
  • Product manager 
  • Business analyst (BA)
  • Backend developers
  • Frontend developers
  • Mobile developers
  • UI/UX designer
  • Tech lead
  • Quality assurance (QA) engineers/QA automation engineers

Optionally, if your project requires, you might also need the help of:

  • Solution architect
  • DevOps engineer
  • VR designer
  • 3D modeler

Final Thoughts

Deciding on the size of the software development team for your project requires deep research and analysis of all influencing factors. 

Onix has over 100 IT specialists possessing various skills. Our PMs will select a dedicated team based on your needs. The number and expertise of the company's programmers, UX/UI designers, quality assurance engineers, and project managers ensure that all necessary team member roles and responsibilities will be filled perfectly. A culture of cooperation and team-play facilitates teamwork for the best results. 

You can be sure your software product will be delivered on time and within budget. Contact us for more information and let us form the best project team for you!

FAQ: Software development team size

1. How many people are in a software development team?

The size of a software development team depends on several factors: project goals, complexity, budget, timeframe, and required tech skills. In general, development teams include from 5 to 10 specialists. 

Teams with less than 5 members can experience skill gaps and awkward team dynamics, while teams consisting of more than 10 people require more time on communication and management, compromising the overall performance.

2. Who are the members of the software development team?  Software development outsourcing team key positions are the following: 

  • Business Analyst (BA) is responsible for setting goals, analyzing and documenting key processes and systems, and ensuring consistency between the business model and technologies. They assess what works and what doesn't work and set the direction for business development.
  • Project Manager (PM) is responsible for planning and execution. The PM is responsible for getting the job done. They also take care of building relationships between the client and the various parts of the organization. Project managers oversee all processes, delegate tasks to other team members, and make sure everyone is on the same page.
  • UI/UX designer creates the way users interact with the product. They ensure that all functions solve people's problems and achieve business goals. Namely, they determine how the product will look and how it will work. The main focus of a UX designer is functionality and usability.
  • Developers (Front-end/Back-end) are the people who do the coding. While the front-end designers are working on the customer-centric elements of the product, the back-end designers care about the functionality.
  • Quality Assurance Engineer (QA) tests the product to make sure it performs well, meets quality standards and customer requirements. QA is like the ultimate editor that pays close attention to the smallest details. They catch bugs early so the team can fix them before they reach users.

3. How to define the software development team size? You need to decide on your project goals, functional side, employment model, and budget. We recommend getting help from experienced software development companies that can form a perfect team with the required skills and expertise.