Optimal Team Size


So we’re having a nice, healthy debate regarding the optimal team size for a cross functional team.

Plenty of references to toss around:

What say ye?


Oh @andycleff you’re so precious for giving me another reason to say “it depends”. LOL

Some things I consider when rounding out a team:

  • Are there any specialist roles needed for the team other than the usual 3?
  • Are we pairing or not?
  • What’s the roadmap and timeline look like?
  • How’s the gender mix at this company? (cause it matters)
  • What’s the current shape of the pipeline?
  • How many 3rd party and internal stakeholders so we interact with?

Once I get that picture, a better number comes to mind. :slight_smile:


I am sure @chrismurman has “it depends” as a text expander snippet.

Specialist roles - yes. Assume a Front End, E Commerce App. So we have specialists, or t-shaped people, for the following: SEO, Analytics, API coordination/specification, in addition to the usual angular.js, css. Add to the mix CI/CD w automated testing.

Pairing: yes, yes, yes. But not “mandatory”…

Roadmap and timeline: Shipping feature enhancements every two to three weeks, major elements every six weeks. Roadmap a bit uncertain and in flux.

Gender mix: 80/20 m/f

Pipeline: clogged and leaking

Stakeholders: too many. 4.6 :stuck_out_tongue:


Ha! I just stepped out of a meeting where we had the same conversation. We have a group of 16 - so scrum logic says “too big! split in half!”. Now I see

anything up to 20, except 8

le sigh

Honestly, looking at a full kanban team as an option for the aforementioned project. Weighing options and intent.

(editorial, I started responding hours ago. Just now hitting send)


@chrismurman, I am interested in the “why” behind “it depends” questions…


No I just tell Siri to say it for me Andy. It’s 2017!


@mccallam2 the why is that I have led teams building all sorts of shit over the years.

If it’s pairing dev teams you could have 3-4 pairs, myself and a tester and get away with it.
If you’re building a small native mobile app I could do 5 people total. Rewriting a part of an ecom site with APIs means more.
If the gender mix in the company is decent I would allow for a larger team to get more women on it.
If the CD pipeline is in poor shape I might want a platform dev or two on the team.
If I have a ton of 3rd party interactions might need a second chair to me to lead those relationships so I could focus on internal peeps.

Make sense?