The Roles of Your Tech Team

We’ve talked about a few of the tech roles in the past, like project managers or product owners, but today we take a look at the team overall. What can you expect from your team? What can you expect from a freelancer versus a development firm like Bixly?

Full Transcript Below:

Andrew:

Two actionable tasks that the developers can do. I also have estimates, timelines, a schedule to them.

Cris:

How do all these roles actually fit together on the project?

Andrew:

So they’re the one that’s going to essentially help build a feature set of what’s this thing going to do, what problems is going to solve? What does success look like?

Cris:

Kind of the way that they’re actually interacting with that code is going to be a little bit different and the tasks are not going to be the same.

Cris: Today we get to sit down and talk about roles on tech teams and kind of digest that out into what are the different applications of positions on tech projects and how they all kind of fit together. So just starting at the top, what are some of the typical roles that you’re going to see on a tech project? And then I’d also like to say how you can kind of have to find those in a single person, if you’re trying to freelance versus being able to find those in a team. So what are the typical roles that you’re usually seeing on the tech project?

Andrew:

The typical roles that we’ll see on a tech project are you’ve got the developers that actually write the code. You’ve got CIS admins that are responsible for IT related things, server related things, security, that sort of stuff. You’ve got a project manager who’s responsible for actually interfacing with the developers and gathering your requirements and translating that to something that is actionable. And then you’ve got the product owner, which is you as the client, is the product owner. And the product owner is really responsible for understanding your clients and their business needs and just the case for making the software and really what software needs to be built and why.

Cris:

Gotcha. So how do all these roles actually fit together on the project? How do they actually kind of interact with each other on a daily basis? What needs kind of fall within each of those categories, just to kind of give a hypothetical?

Andrew:

Yeah, sure. Yeah. These roles are all very interrelated. So for the product owner, that’s the client who understands their clients, understands their client’s needs and why they’re building the software. So they’re the one that’s going to essentially help build a feature set of what’s this thing going to do, what problems it’s going to solve? What is success look like? Assuming the product owner is not technical, they’re going to work with the project manager who is typically myself, who is going to help translate those requirements that the product owners created, into actionable tasks that the developers can do that also have estimates, timelines, a schedule to them, all that good stuff. So the project manager is really the go-between between the product owner and their ideas and the developers who are actually acting out on these things and building this code. The project manager’s then going to work with the developers to help them actually build the tasks, validate that what the client has said they wanted is what is actually being built.

Andrew:

And again, it’s kind of just a go between, between the two, not that the client does not interact with the developers, but the project manager is a proxy between the two. And then the assist admins again, kind of work with the project manager and the client to help make sure that things are deployed securely, that you have the right level of server capacity. Whether you’re doing 10,000 users or 10 million users, they can help you set all that up and just really make sure that with this thing that’s built, as it goes out into the world, that it has the horsepower it needs to be able to be successful.

Cris:

Gotcha. And you’ve said developers a few times, obviously that could be just plural people on a project, but also there may be even different actual tech stacks that are being worked on. So I mean there’s front end developers and there’s backend developers.

Andrew:

Yeah. There’s definitely segments to developers.

Cris:

Right. And kind of the way that they’re actually interacting with that code is going to be a little bit different and the tasks are not going to be the same.

Andrew:

Exactly. Exactly. Do you want me to go into that?

Cris:

Well, yeah. I mean, if you have some thoughts, even on that, and this plays back to, I think what I was talking about at the beginning, which is finding a single individual that can cover all these roles is really hard and that’s why having a team and being able to focus a bit might be useful, but yeah. Feel free to elaborate.

Andrew:

Yeah. So I was lumping developers together, as I was lumping CIS admins together too. They specialize in different areas also. But with developers, there’s what we refer to as front end developers that make the part that you see, typically that’s a web page as the parts you’re interacting with. There’s backend developers that write the code that actually resides on the server that has all the logic, all the business rules, things like that. But you don’t see it typically. But it is very necessary though. And then you’ve got full stack developers that are a bit more of the unicorns that have both skill sets and kind of tie all those things together. Some projects have, there’s advantages to having people that specialize in one area or the other. And there’s sometimes advantage to having full stack developers too, that are more kind of Jack Of All Trades.

Cris:

So one thing we haven’t talked about is a designer. So how would you kind of describe the role of a designer on a project?

Andrew:

So the designer is the person that’s actually going to be designing what you’re going to be seeing. The thing that we touched on front end developers building the part that you see. Well, the front end developers aren’t designers, they have some basic sense of what it should look like. But a designer is someone who really specializes in this is what current user interface trends are. This is how to make it work really well on a mobile device versus a tablet versus a desktop. And they’re really just user interface experts. They are people that understand the best ways that users are going to interact with your software.

Cris:

Gotcha. Yeah. They know how to design something that’s going to be eye-catching that will allow you to navigate in a smooth manner. And they’re really telling the story and the flow of the site, in a way the front end developers are actually putting that story together. And then we have the backend developers that are basically doing the scaffolding to kind of lift it all up.

Andrew:

Exactly.

Cris:

Okay, perfect. Gotcha. We’ve talked about agile methodology a bit, and we have a whole nother video on that too, that we can probably link to. How do these roles kind of fit into the agile methodology or even just any overall methodology? But let’s talk agile, but how would these roles kind of fit in there?

Andrew:

Yeah. All of these roles fit into agile. I don’t want to get too deep into what agile is, but tying them back to the roles. The product owner is going to be the one who’s going to be helping, again, build these sort of high level requirements. But the project manager is going to be the ones actually creating these individual stories. We refer to them as stories. They’re essentially features, to put it in layman’s terms. They’re going to be done as part of agile. And so the project manager is going to break up all of those requirements into stories and then break them up into a series of typically two week, we’ll refer to as sprints, of work to be done. And that helps establish a timeframe. So the project manager is really responsible for kind of making this agile roadmap. But again, all of this is based on what the product owner has defined as requirements.

Andrew:

If the product owner has defined that this needs to be at this phase of usability in three months, and then at this phase at four and a half months, and then this at six, that’s going to really drive what the project manager does and how they break these things up into these agile sprints. And then the developers, the designers, the CIS admins, they’re all going to be responsible for individual stories that were on there. Maybe one story is deploying it to a staging server so that the clients can review our progress. And that’s like a CIS admin task. And then there’s a designer task for making sure that this particular page is designed to be mobile responsive. And then there’s a front end task. Yeah. Anyways, there’s lots of tasks that —

Cris:

Obviously. Yeah, no, that makes sense. So there’s so many roles here. Do you need all of these roles on a project? I know that’s kind of an open-ended question because it’s probably depends on the project, but I mean, yeah. What are your thoughts there? Do you need these roles on every web project or if not, why?

Andrew:

Do you need them? No.

Cris:

Okay.

Andrew:

Will your project turn out better if you have them? Yes. So it’s the difference between having one person who again, is truly kind of a Jack Of All Trades, maybe a freelancer who’s got a little bit of experience with design, a little bit of back end experience and maybe a lot of front end experience and a little bit of CIS admin experience. They deployed a couple of things. Could that one person fulfill all of those roles? Sure. Are they going to do it as well as a series of five different specialists who come together in a well coordinated team to deliver the same thing? No. So no, you don’t need them, but for best results, it’s good to have people that specialize in different areas.

Cris:

Gotcha. Well, we’ve obviously talked a lot about a lot of roles, a lot of different ways that they interact and fit in with the team. Any other closing thoughts, kind of putting a button on this topic?

Andrew:

Yeah. That’s having all these specialized roles and having a team is one of the hugest advantages of working with a development firm, where you’ve got a deep bench of all these different people that specialize in all these different areas. And you can contrast that to working with say a freelancer who, again, has varying level of experience in all these different things. And I think most of us have basically have been a freelancer at one point or another. And you know that you can get by learning a little bit about this particular server technology or not, but as a freelancer, you don’t really have the time to master all these different areas. You typically are strongest in one area and just get by in all the others. So there is definitely an added cost to working with the development firm, but a big part of that, the benefits you get is again, having specialists and having this team to kind of take care of all of these needs in a very experienced and coordinated way.

Cris:

Yeah. And I would, even to piggyback on that, to close would be, it’s a mental focus. It’s not that the individual can’t learn those skills, even become fairly proficient at it, but they have to throughout their entire day, if you’re working with a freelancer, think in a dev ops mindset and then suddenly think in now a backend developer mindset and think as a front end developer and then do some design work and so on and so forth. And even just that mental gymnastics doesn’t allow you to really truly, again, focus in. If you have a team and be like, “You think dev ops, you think front end, you think design, you think backend.” So forth.

Andrew:

Absolutely.

Alexandra:

Thank you so much for joining us for this episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday, where Cris and Andrew discussed all of the different roles that are part of your tech team, especially when you’re building custom software. And we hope they added a little bit of clarity so that you can understand how everybody works together. And don’t forget to check out the special links that we have for you in the description down below. You can find a link to our free custom software guide, which will walk you through the steps of getting through planning your own custom app idea, whether that be for web or mobile or both, whatever your solution might look like. You can also check out our website, bixly.com. And at the very top of our website, there’s a button that says Validate Your App idea. If you click that, you can schedule a free meeting with Cris, 60 minutes to talk about your app idea and we’ll point you in the right direction. Until next time, this has been an episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday.

Originally published at https://blog.bixly.com on August 17, 2021.

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