A software development team includes a variety of roles, each with unique responsibilities. You may hear these titles being thrown around as you search for a custom software vendor, but without a clear understanding of each role and how it operates, it can be difficult to make a confident decision. So, let’s take a look at the different roles and responsibilities on a software development team.
According to PMBoK, project managers “are organized, passionate and goal-oriented leaders who understand what projects have in common and their strategic role in how organizations succeed, learn and change.” The project manager is the person assigned to manage the team, and he or she is responsible for ensuring the team achieves the project’s goals. The goal of the project manager is to outline the work process necessary to complete the project with the given resources and budget, within to the predetermined timeline, and according to an established quality standard.
To put it simply, the project manager is the specialist who puts together the right team and creates favorable working conditions to enable them to complete quality work on time, within budget, and according to clients’ specifications.
At a high level, there are five stages to the project manager’s work on any given project:
- Initiation: establishing the project concept and making the decision to start the project
- Planning: drawing up the project plan and making preparations to fulfill it
- Delivery: fulfilling the plan by carrying out the work it specifies
- Monitoring and control: keeping track, controlling, and reporting progress with the purpose of reaching the goals of the project
- Closeout: finalizing the work on the project and handing over the documentation
The business analyst is responsible for working with the client to identify key needs and goals for the software, and working with the development team to convert those needs and goals into actionable product requirements and specifications. The responsibilities of a business analyst include the following:
- Analyze client’s needs
- Write up product requirements
- Analyze requirements and make adjustments or improvements as necessary
- Write up product specifications
- Manage requirements throughout the development process, apprising both the developers and client of any changes
In their work, business analysts use various techniques, including building process models and structures, creating prototypes of the UI (User Interface), and documenting user scenarios. When this work is complete, it then becomes possible to estimate the hours of work and the overall duration of the project.
Once the business analyst has locked down product requirements and specifications, the designers work to figure out how the final product will look, which is critical to the end-user experience. Designers have several key responsibilities on each project:
- Designs for web and mobile apps, or any specific pages
- Layouts and mockup drawings
- Icons, artwork, and graphics for web and mobile apps, banners, etc
Additional materials as necessary depending on the proejct:
- Company logos
- Flash animation
- Web design
The developers — engineers — bring the project plans and requirements to life. The functional duties of engineers include the following:
- Completion of tasks that are set out by the lead engineer or the project manager
- Analysis, design engineering, development, and testing of the software according to the standards specified for the project
- Work planning and project documentation
- Production of high-quality work
- Synchronization with other developers when there are multiple involved in a project
Quality Assurance (QA) Engineers
Quality assurance engineers approach each project as perfectionists. Their work always revolves around answering three core questions:
- What is working?
- What is not working?
- What is working not as intended?
To answers these questions about every part of the software product, QA engineers typically carry out the following activities:
- Quality control and problem search. To begin, the specialist investigates the quality of the product being developed and analyzes errors that end users might be getting during usage.
- Testing. This is done by creating and regularly implementing test sets. The specialists also document and record the outcomes and write up testing methodology.
- Analysis. Then they analyze the data obtained as the result of testing, classifying and recording any bugs in a database.
- Support. Quality assurance engineers do not fix the bugs themselves but delegate that task to the developers, providing any additional information about the defects that the team may need.
- Defect documentation. To carry out testing and record the results, the QA specialist needs to correctly input the data into the technical documentation of the project.
The DevOps (development operations) engineer handles everything pertaining to the infrastructure of both the development process and the deployment of the final. Their role is to help streamline the work of other engineers, keep track of all the changes in the application, and automate a lot of mundane tasks involving various server environments and related tools.
DevOps engineer’s job involves a number of tasks:
- Organizing and standardizing the rules of development process, eg., where and how engineers will store the code and coordinate their work
- Choosing the tools and software and optimizing their workflows for the specific goals of the project
- Automating a backup system and change tracker that allow developers to reverse each step to a previous version in case of a problem
- Automating all the software suits, development tools, and environments needed for the software design, engineering, and testing
- Deploying the application to the servers once the development team has completed their work
A software development team has many moving parts, and you’ll hear about how each part operates when you speak with potential software vendors. We hope this breakdown gives you the insights you need to enter into conversations about software development with confidence.