A well managed team with solid development practices can get a lot of quality work done in a short period of time. What does a team like this look like? Small, at least that’s what the 2012 TSS Java Trends survey indicates. When asked the question “What is the size of the typical development team you work with?” fully 40% of respondents said their team size was 4-9 with 24% saying 10-20.
With Agile development practices being all the rage these days, the survey results seem to fit well with this practice. Agile philosophers evangelize a team of 4-9 as being the optimal size and balance of getting things done quickly and too much overhead. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a bigger team. 24% said their team sizes range from 10-20 members, which may have included non-developer positions such as project managers, business analysts and management.
So what does the optimal Agile development team look like? In a nine person team, the individual skillsets might break down like this:
1 skilled in Architecture
1 skilled as a Systems Analyst
1 or 2 skilled Senior Developers
2 or 3 skilled Junior Developers
1 skilled Build Person
1 skilled in QA/Testing
Of course, the team size is highly dependent on several other factors such as project size, project complexity, timeline, available skill sets and budget. But any size project can benefit from an agile approach. In fact, 11% of respondents represented teams of more than 50. That is a big team, probably representing multiple technology layers and a mix of distributed and dedicated onsite developers all working on a multi-year project.
But let’s not forget the really small teams. 16% of respondents said they worked with team sizes of less than three. These are most likely developers that wear many hats or are in a break-fix mode where patches and maintenance are more the priority.
Interestingly in contrast to the 2010 TSS Java Trends survey, 2011 saw a contraction of team sizes of 4-9, down from 57% of respondents. Growth seems to be trending upward in the 10-20 team size over last year, from 14% to 24%. That is a big jump. This could mean either there are bigger projects with more need for developers or the Agile evangelists need to get out there and well, evangelize, more. In any case, Java developers and Agile philosophies are alive and well, joined at the hip and ready to roll.