Team sizes vary depending on the workload, development cadence, and progress of a project.  In general it is best to push for smaller teams to keep communication clear and cohesion high. Most likely, you are struggling with a small budget and need to carefully spend every penny while trying to balance the need to have a high impact dedicated team.  Key concepts to maintaining positive dynamics for your team include building high quality software at all times, establishing workload predictability, and most notably, right sizing your team to keep them as productive as possible.

Design Sprint

Product market fit for a digital product is the king.  Nothing else matters for someone building a SAAS platform.  Before development takes place, it is critical that a team validate a product idea.  Using the Sprint Guide, a team of 2 designers should be able to conduct a design sprint and deliver a web-based clickable wireframes that have been reviewed and validated by customers.   The final clickable wireframes should be modified based on helpful feedback from customers.  Example output is here:

Team Size

1 PM (20 hours) – Ensures that the team is following the process and moving along. Removes roadblocks from a team if there is a problem.

1.5 Designers (60 hours) Usually a team work together on and off throughout the week to conduct research, interviews, and mockups, and validation.

Total = 80 hours over a week

High Fidelity Clickable Prototype

Only after product market fit is determined with a success design sprint  or series of design sprints, should this option be considered. A high fidelity clickable prototype should be used only when you are trying to raise a seed round for a high end product or if you are pre-selling your platform idea. Otherwise, it can become expensive if you have a limited budget.  If you are going to build an MVP based on a product market fit, this step is not necessary. Example is here:

Team Size

1 Designer (40 hours) Usually a team work together on and off throughout the week to review similar product looks and feels as well as branding

Total = 40 hours over a week

Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

After a design sprint it, our recommendation is to build an unproven concept with a small and flexible team.  A proven concept is best served with a steady workforce.  Hours are per 2 week sprint.

Team Size

  • 1  Deliver Manager / Product Owner – Expectations are that the Stakeholders will be heavily participating during the MVP process. Additionally, the delivery manager should be comfortable developing wireframes to communicate with the team. 80 hours.
  • 1 Lead Backend Engineer  – full time for MVP build.  This engineer will rapidly move the application into working order. 80 hours
  • 1 UI Developer – Initially, the demand application implementation will be large. 80 hours
  • Design Work – This work should be limited in the MVP stage.  We typically recommend that the UI designer design 5 important screens.  What are those screens?  30 hours
    • Homepage
    • Dashboard
    • 3 key screens to depict the most important workflow.
  • Tester-Minimal. Team does some bug testing.  Major bugs will be resolved  Minor ones are prioritized.
  • Mobile too? Add 80 hours starting on sprint 4

Total  = 280 hours per sprint

Most MVPs can be developed in 7 sprints x 280 = 1,960 hours

With Mobile  = 1960 hours + (80 hours x 4) =  2,280 hours

 Bus Factor

  • Low

Post MVP Team – Launch Prep

The team has built and shown the MVP.  People are very interested in the product and the feedback is great.  Funding has increased and the team has a next step of experiments planned.  If the MVP doesn’t generate the proper response, then continue with a minimal team or pivot as needed.

Team Size:

  • 1 Delivery Manager / Product Owner
  • 1.5  Lead Engineer full time for continued platform development.  A part time engineer will increase your bus factor and make your engineer more productive.  There are social benefits for the team as well as technical.
  • 1 UI Developer.  Full time developer will be able to polish more features and design work.
  • ½ Designer.  Work with some on demand / crowdsourcing.  Design work will require more resources.  Having someone in house to do this work will be helpful, but having access to crowdsourcing is still critical for this.
  • ½ Tester – You will want some dedicated resources to test the application.  Without it, the team will be burned out quickly and bugs will be present in the system.

Total = 360 hours per sprint

Bus Factor:

  • Better, but still low.

Successful Launch Team

The team is opening the application to the public after honing their product.   Revenue is paying for not only development, but the other business functions.   Seed rounds are being evaluated and high end investors courted.  Team size is still kept low to keep communication high, but large enough to allow for increased workload.

 Team Size:

  • 1 Project Product Owner

  • 2  Lead Engineer full time

  • 1.5 UI Developer

  • 1  Design Work with some on demand / crowdsourcing

  • 1.5 Testers

Total = 560 hours per sprint

Bus Factor:


Software Re-Platform

There are times  that it becomes necessary to Re-Platform  a software application, which means porting it over from an older framework like Delphi to something modern, like NextJS.  Typically, the product has revenue, a team in place, and a sales pipeline.  The funding from this effort is organic, but it usually requires a fresh set of eyes and will most likely need some redesign to help with it’s modern look and feel.  Depending on how large the application is and how well it is written, you can form your team.  If the application is relatively small and straight forward, then you can essentially get away from an MVP type style team.

 Team Size:

  • 1 Project Product Owner

  • 1 Tester
  • 1.5 to 2 Backend Engineer (with modern and older framework experience)

  • 1 UI Developer

  • 2 Design Sprints  in Total

Total = ~400 hours per sprint for 7 sprints = ~2,960 hours

Bus Factor: