“Can you scale up to accelerate the project?” It’s a recurring client question. But scaling up implies a larger team, and at CE-iT we prefer small teams. We explain how and why we work with small teams.
More people ≠ higher productivity
In practice, it appears that more people does not equal higher productivity. When you work with two developers on a project, and you add two, you don’t halve the development time. More people means more coordination.
So the real question is: What is the ideal size of a development team? We believe: the smaller, the better.
We are not alone in that regard. 37signals, the company behind Basecamp and HEY email, works with small teams too. A team at 37signals usually consists of two or three people. A developer and a designer, or two developers and a designer.
At CE-iT we work in a similar way. This applies to internal projects and projects at customers. For customers, there is a person from CE-iT who takes care of the coordination and the design. We often refer to that person as the product owner, even if it does not match the formal description.
In addition to the product owner, there is a developer. Sometimes we add a second developer. In most cases, each developer then works on a different part.
This composition also works for larger projects. You break the project down into smaller parts and each part is picked up by a different team. In practice, the product owner frequently works on several projects at the same time.
You can read more about how 37signals organizes work and teams here.
No project manager
One thing that may stand out is the lack of a project manager. At CE-iT we don’t work with project managers. The person who takes care of the design and the contact with the customer also does the planning and what is involved.
We believe that project management becomes easier when you know the details of the product and project. At CE-iT, the person who does the project management knows all parts of the project. This works both internally and for customers. You tune points faster and there is less chance of noise.
When you work with two or three people, you don’t need fixed meeting times. You have continuous contact, and you know what is going on with each other. You schedule a meeting when you want to discuss a larger or more complex item. The rest takes place on the fly.
For larger external projects, we often work with short fixed meetings. That is a 15-minute consultation via Teams that takes place once or twice a week. Most companies would call them stand-ups. Topics that require more time are discussed separately from that consultation.
Working with a small team has another important advantage. Everyone is and feels responsible. When you work with two or three people in a project, there is no one to hide behind. Everyone is responsible for the success and mistakes. And that is reflected in the attitude of people and the result.
At CE-iT we believe in working with small teams. It brings us better result, shorter lead times, less noise and more involvement.
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