One of the factors for building a great product with on-time delivery is having a recommended size of an Agile team. A right Agile team size increases overall productivity. Besides, it can help your business make better decisions, propose solutions to problems at speed, and savor software quality.

But what is an Agile team? The number of people in an Agile team? And what roles are they assigned to? This article will reveal all the secrets of having the correct number of team players in Agile and Scaled Agile Framework SAFe. It will help you interpret the Agile team definition and SAFe for teams. You will also explore traits and factors that influence building a solid team. 

What is an Agile development team?

When people work together to build software solutions through Agile principles, it is called an Agile development team. The group uses iterative development, such as sprints and CI/CD methods, to create products according by conforming to quick feedback.

Agile Agility Nimble Quick Fast Volant Concept


Such teams are self-organized and rely on internal (within the team) and external (stakeholders) collaboration for product delivery. That is why they are also known as scrum teams since Scrum is a part of Agile methodology and has the same number of members.
Agile teams are cross-functional. So if you’re wondering what are the two ways to describe a cross-functional Agile team, here’s the answer:

  • A self-empowered and self-organized team with the autonomy to make its own decisions
  • Different people with different expertise and background, working as a team to deliver a high-quality product

As a matter of fact, you can easily spot an Agile team if you know which behavior indicates a team is cross-functional in an Agile framework, such as:

  • The members are capable of identifying and solving issues quickly
  • All team members can work independently on their tasks, but as a unit
  • Agile squad adapts to change without hesitation in order to meet the project’s needs

Agile vs safe agile framework (SAFe)

Before knowing the recommended size of an Agile team, it is vital to understand the difference between Agile and SAFe frameworks. Although most parts are similar, there are a few major distinctions between their scopes.

02 Recommended Size Of An Agile Team


Here are some Agile team characteristics:

  • It is a small, lightweight team
  • Delivers value to users as early as possible
  • It strictly works through the Agile Manifesto
  • The development process is iterative and incremental
  • Agile cross functional team adapts to amendments in software requirements

The following are the traits of a SAFe team:

  • It is comparatively a large team
  • It follows the Agile Release Trains (ARTs)
  • SAFe is a heavyweight framework designed for big organizations
  • The members use Agile Manifesto, systems thinking, and Lean principles
  • Major focus on delivering value, as well as ensuring coordination and team-level events

Roles in a recommended size of an Agile team

The Agile team structure is divided into four Agile team roles:

03 Recommended Size Of An Agile Team

 

Product owner

The Product Owner (PO) is accountable for the product vision. They also ensure that the Agile team delivers the right software to the customer. Therefore, they are also responsible for product backlog management, communication with stakeholders, and prioritizing features.

Scrum master

The Scrum Master (SM) facilitates the Agile process and makes sure that the entire team is working through top-notch Agile practices. They also hold scrum meetings, remove impediments, and coach the Agile team.

Also Read: Product Owner vs Scrum Master – 5 Key Differences and Explanation

Development team

The development Agile team comprises software engineers, testers, and designers, who work harmoniously to deliver the product.

Stakeholders

Anyone interested in the software product, including users, business owners, or users, is a stakeholder in an Agile setup. They are a necessary part of the team as they provide feedback confirming whether the product meets all the needs.
On the other hand, SAFe agile roles are similar to the Agile team with the following addition.

Solution architect

In the SAFE Scaled Agile framework, the Solution Architect is obligated for the entire solution’s architecture. Moreover, they work with teams to ensure all the features are created and implemented without disrupting the product’s architecture. 

Release train engineer

A Release Train Engineer acts as a full-time chief SM for SAFe. They facilitate product execution, ensure continuous development, mitigate and manage risks, and highlight impediments to higher authority for an action plan. 

2 common traits in a recommended size of an Agile team

The question, “A healthy agile team has which two common traits?” is mostly asked by businesses that are finding ways to improve their Agile methods.

05 Recommended Size Of An Agile Team

While there are many common features of an Agile Team, the 2 most common are below.

Every team member knows about the purpose and goals of their tasks

Each Agile team member understands the project goal and the importance of their contribution towards achieving it. Furthermore, they realize the necessity of collaboration and teamwork to accomplish tasks by overcoming challenges. 

Freedom to take risks without fearing consequences

The second common trait of an Agile development team is freedom of creativity. An environment where members can share their thoughts about the software solution even if the idea has some blurry parts. Besides, they are free to experiment without feeling embarrassed or fearing punishment from their group members.

Tweet: https://twitter.com/Agileonthebeach/status/1280508134793117696?s=20

3 factors influencing the recommended size of an Agile team

Before deciding on the cross functional team Agile size, you should consider these three factors.

04 Recommended Size Of An Agile Team

Cross functionality of the team

Agile principles insist on having a cross-functionality. If your team is cross-functional, you will need lesser team members. Keep in mind that if the team is under the supervision of a skilled and experienced project owner, all the members will work effectively towards achieving the goal. Nevertheless, if the supervisor wears different hats, the effectiveness of the team will be reduced. 

Difficulty level of the software

It is not always the case that a big scrum team size can handle complicated projects easily. In fact, the Ringelmann effect recommends that adding more members to the team does not work whenever you’re way behind the task completion day. But it depends on the type of application you’re building. In simple words, if an Agile / Scrum teams become too large, they should be brought down according to the exact requirements.
Some products are simple, while others are difficult to handle. For instance, building an app like Uber may require at least two Agile teams to work on different features at the same time. Contrarily, if you’re creating web apps or dashboards, a single unit will be more than enough to complete the project.

YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbutuHXXvp4

Requirement and budget

Every phase of software development requires a different budget. The more budget you can arrange, the sooner the product will enter the market. However, most entrepreneurs may prefer a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to get investors on board. As all they need is to demonstrate the product concept and viability. And MVP can do that. Therefore, in such a case, an Agile team will do a great job compared to SAFe, where members are high in numbers.

Also Read: 7 Steps on Building a Great MVP 

An established business will still require the MVP, but it will also need to complete all the other development stages. So again, depending on the software’s difficulty level, you may need multiple Agile teams or an entire SAFe Agile framework to do the job. 

Recommended size of an Agile team

As you now have all the essential knowledge about Agile, let’s unearth what is the optimal number of members for an Agile team?

06 Recommended Size Of An Agile Team


In Jeff Bezos’s view, if 2 pizzas can feed a team, then that’s what is the typical size for a scrum team. Regardless of how large the pizza is, it can’t fulfill the utility of more than 9 people, no matter how foodies they are.
On the other hand, if you take an example of a Spotify model, a maximum of 6 team members will make a great Agile development team. But according to the Scrum Guide, scrum members can’t be more than 10 persons, where the max number should be software developers.

Also Read: Scrum vs. Spotify Model – Which One is Best for Your Product Development 

Nevertheless, ideally, the magic number is 7, as the number seven is prudent to be the magical spell to complete a particular task. Some experts also advise keeping a space for 2 more or 2 less, but you shouldn’t reach for more because.

Adding people to a late software project is like pouring gasoline on a fire. It just makes it later.

– Frederick P Brooks

And, if there’s a requirement, you can multiply the number of teams instead of increasing the number of members of an individual unit. So, if one team has 7 members, two teams will have 14, and three will accommodate 21. 

Conclusion

Different experts have recommended the size of an Agile team in their own experience. Some prefer 6, while others prefer 9 cross functional Agile team. But all agree that there shouldn’t be more than 10 people. However, 7 is the ideal Agile team size where most Agile professionals are on the same page. Otherwise, it is better to create multiple teams or choose SAFe over Agile.
At Slash, we are always happy to serve entrepreneurs and established entities. We customize our Agile teams to your needs, so your product can be built under experts’ supervision. Contact us to learn how our Agile wizards can help you craft a striking software product.

FAQs – recommended size of an Agile team

What is the recommended team size in scrum? Scrum team size can include a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 9 people. If scrum teams become too large they should be narrowed.

What is the recommended size of an agile team quizlet? 7 team members are more than enough to become part of an Agile team. However, in some exceptional scenarios, the numbers can be increased to 10 to 12 people.

How do you calculate team capacity in agile? The capacity in Agile can be calculated by multiplying the number of team members by the number of sprints and working hours of each member per week. For instance, 7 team members work on a 2-week sprint, each working 40 hours a week. Therefore, the capacity of this Agile team is 560 hours ( 7 x 2 x 40).

How do you determine the size of the team? There is no standard on the number of members. However, 7 is the ideal recommended size of an Agile team by most experts. 

What is the formula for team size? The formula for team size is N (N-1) / 2.

What are two examples of team-level events? Daily stand-up and iteration planning are two examples of team level events.

Aditya Prakarsa
Aditya Prakarsa
Software Developer
Aditya has worked as a software developer for more than 10 years. He has also worked as a sales and marketing manager for more than 5 years. He joined Slash in 2021 as an Iteration Manager and has since been introduced to Agile. He has discovered the benefits and advantages of Agile in software delivery when compared to traditional software delivery or Waterfall. Working as an Iteration Manager has forced him to deep dive more into Agile and its frameworks such as Scrum, Kanban, and XP.
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