The Structure of a Mobile App Development Team

If you’re exploring your options to have a mobile app created, then you should first understand exactly what you’re paying for.

A clear understanding of mobile app development team structure will help you select the right partner, spec your project properly, and ultimately find success in the market.

This is true whether you’re outsourcing or creating your app in-house.

Modern app development is much more complex than the “guy in a garage” of the past. Depending on the scale of an app, dozens of people could be needed to bring it to life.

Keep reading and we’ll explain what all those people do, and how to get started in assembling your perfect team.

Mobile App Development Team Roles

Most modern software teams use some variation of Scrum to conduct their work.

This is a project management scheme that optimizes workflow, ensuring that apps are created quickly and efficiently without sacrificing quality.

Scrum focuses on a close adherence to the vision for the app, decreasing the likelihood of it drifting away from its original purpose during development.

AppReal uses Agile, which was derived from Scrum and has quickly become one of the most popular software development methodology in the world.

Agile emphasizes Customer Collaboration, meaning the client is kept informed of the ongoing progress of the app, every step of the way.

In fact, with Agile, there is always a runnable, executable version of the app in progress. At any stage of development, it’s possible to see and use exactly what has been created, not just read reports or look at screenshots.

Agile and Scrum incorporate some highly specific roles for team members that go beyond what non-developers might think of.

Let’s get familiar with the names of those team roles, and how they function within the dev environment.

Project Manager

Every development team, whether it’s creating a mobile app or anything else, needs a project manager.

This is the mobile app development team lead.

The one who is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the project.

  • Overall administrator of the project
  • Works closely with the client to define scope, budget, and schedule
  • Facilitates communication between team members via meetings
  • Troubleshoots high-level issues that may cause delays, such as resource or personnel problems
  • Continues to serve as the main point of contact with the client

Scrum Master

The scrum master is essential to the Agile process and maintains a detailed awareness of everything happening in the project.

If the project manager is the general, then the scrum master is the sergeant. Although, in some teams, the two roles can be filled by the same person.

  • Assigns individual tasks to each team member
  • Makes sure that the team development processes are followed
  • Follows up with team members for status on tasks
  • Keeps the project manager apprised of the progress of individual tasks
  • Troubleshoots low-level issues that cause challenges to individual team members

Product Owner

Unique to scrum methodologies like Agile, the product owner serves as the advocate for the stakeholder.

In fact, another name for this role is the Active Stakeholder. That is a stakeholder who participates in the daily operations of the team.

Their job is to look at the project from the user’s point of view, ensuring that the final product serves the function for which it was intended.

  • Communicates with the client to define their vision and requirements for the final product
  • Prioritizes requirements and maintains careful documentation
  • Communicates requirements to the scrum master and ensures that they are consistently followed
  • Works with the client to clarify requirements when needed, and answer questions that arise during development

Design Lead / Designers

To the software layman, “designer” and “developer” are often used interchangeably. However, in mobile app development teams, they do serve two distinct roles.

  • Responsible for look and feel of an app
  • Creates all visual and audio assets for the project, including color schemes, graphics, animation, sound effects, music, and so on
  • Maintains communication with scrum master to ensure that assets are delivered on schedule and in the correct order for app iteration
  • Oversees a team of designers to accomplish these tasks

Development Lead / Developers

Also called coders, although this is a somewhat diminutive term. The development lead and the developers under her are responsible for the ground-level work of creating the app.

  • Selects and maintains development tools, such as a Git management system
  • Defines coding standards to be maintained during the project
  • Responsible for all coding of the mobile app
  • Fixes bugs and corrects errors as they are found by QA
  • Oversees a team of developers to accomplish these tasks


A communications facilitator, the analyst is a crucial part of any mobile application development team structure. In some teams, this role may be filled by the scrum master or the product owner.

  • Determines how project requirements can fit within the project budget
  • Maintains documentation of business requirements for the project
  • Acts as a translator between development lead’s technical jargon and product owner’s perspective as a user
  • Helps communicate project requirements for development and design teams

Quality Assurance Lead

As with the development lead and design lead, the QA lead or may not be in charge of a team of testers, depending on the size of the project. Regardless, quality assurance is not optional when creating a professional product.

  • Establishes a testing process to quickly and accurately identify bugs and problems
  • Takes direction from scrum master to focus testing on areas important for the upcoming iteration
  • Creates test cases under which to test app iterations during development
  • Performs manual and automated testing to identify bugs and shortcomings
  • Creates detailed reports on bugs and how to reproduce them, so that the development team may fix them

How to Build a Successful Mobile App Development Team

If all of this seems like a lot, that’s because it is.

Software development is a resource-intensive process that takes the skills and work of potentially dozens of highly talented people.

If you’d like to get started bringing your own app to market, the best thing you can do is partner up with a team who has done it before.

AppReal is composed of mobile dev industry veterans and has successfully completed tens of  projects. We can set you up with an offshore development team in Ukraine, the global capital of outsourced software development.

If you’re in need of an expert team for a long-term project, just drop us a line.

We’d love to see what we can do for you.

And by the way, finding the right people is only half the battle.

Your next task is to learn how to effectively use your new team for a successful project. To do that, read our extensive guide to offshore team management.

And to learn about the technologies and features that matter today, check out our guide to the top 9 tech trends in mobile app development.

Categories: Team Management

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