Scrum Team Size for Developers

Scrum teams are often described as being “small” in size. But what exactly does “small” mean? The size of the Scrum team is actually quite important for the developer role. Teams that are smaller than average, larger than average, or somewhere in the middle all have their positives and negatives. Changes in team size change the team dynamic.

Recommended Team Size

No single team size works for every single project and organization. However, there is a range that tends to work best for most projects and most teams. The recommended range has been defined as 7 +/- 2 members. An average of 7 team members is enough people to get work done, but not so many that communication and administration becomes a problem. As is the case with averages, this means that some teams are larger and some are smaller. Teams smaller than 5 members are often too small to effectively cover all duties. Having more than 9 members on a team yields too many people for effective communications.

More recently, organizations have begun using a range of 6 +/- 3 team members. This range keeps the same upper end of 9 people but extends the lower end down to 3 members. For many organizations, 3 members of a team are too small. Increasingly lean methods have made 3-man teams viable for certain organizations and projects. Splitting teams also tend to yield smaller teams, and having a lower minimum allows teams to be split earlier and with less hassle.

59 Seconds Agile - The Scrum Team Size

59 Seconds Agile – The Scrum Team Size

Too Large

When a team becomes too large, it negatively affects all roles on the team, including the developers. The problems with teams that are too large all stem from communication. More people on a team means there are more people to coordinate. This adds a number of different issues. For one, meetings like the daily stand-up take longer with more people. While still not a significant portion of the day, this is multiplied across every meeting that the team has. What was once a 10-minute meeting may take 30 minutes or longer with a much larger team. With numerous meetings, this decreases the time that developers have to actually do work. Less time to do work means developers are more likely to fall behind and miss deadlines.

In addition to the time added by meetings, developers especially suffer from coordinating multiple team members for the same feature. For projects in which each developer works on a localized piece of the product, coordination is rarely a problem. However, some projects have developers working closely on the same feature. This can cause issues if developers are unsure which team member is working on what specific part. Work can sometimes be duplicated accidentally, or missed completely if every developer thought someone else was responsible. The stand-up meeting reduces the risk of these events, but does not eliminate it completely. The larger a team is, and the more developers there are, the greater the chance of work conflicts. Like the idea of “man-hours,” one developer working 8 hours may be able to accomplish much more than 8 developers working 1 hour each.

Too Small

In addition to teams being too large, teams can also be too small. Particularly for large projects, a small team of developers may be unable to finish all of the work that stakeholders need. This becomes an issue mainly when features are frequently not finished before the end of a sprint, and thus excluded from that release. Most projects can deal with having only a few developers. The developers’ velocity may be lower, but the team can organize stories such that the team still finishes new features each Sprint. However, when stories cannot be broken down small enough, developers may not be able to finish in time. Since a key part of Agile is delivering value to customers, regularly failing to finish a feature is unfitting for the team. Problems happen and any team will occasionally miss a deadline, but if this happens often, it is a key indicator that the team is too small.

Prev <— Continue Reading —> Next

Our Favourite Agile Books

Read Our Reviews

The History of Agile For Developers

Prior to the 1990’s software development was very slow, often taking years to complete development and release the product to market. The industry was following a very formal methodology for products and software development…

Read More

What is Agile to the Developer?

While traditional project management is still widely used, the benefits of an Agile approach to running a project are becoming more and more recognized. Where Agile has a distinct advantage over classic project management is the development of new products…

Read More

Why Use Agile as a Developer?

When determining if a move to Agile is right, a PESTLE can be used to simplify what factors should be considered. While Agile is sometimes thought of as a software development project management method, it isn’t just for these types of technology-centric companies…

Read More

The Agile Manifesto For Developers

Agile is a quick, simple, lightweight and effective way of managing projects. In traditional project management models…

Read More

The Agile Principles For Developers

When the Agile Manifesto was drawn up in 2001, it embodied four values and twelve principles that signaled a new approach to…

Read More

The Agile Fundamentals For Developers

Thinking of becoming a Scrum Master? Or are you already one, but you’re still new to the job? No matter what level of experience…

Read More

The Declaration of Interdependence For Developers

The Declaration of Interdependence establishes that all members, stakeholders, and customers are interdependent and…

Read More

The Agile Frameworks For Developers

There are many different Agile frameworks – all of them share the same philosophy and are built around the Agile Manifesto and Principles. But they vastly differ in their approaches, values, and structure. …

Read More

The Scrum Framework For Developers

The Agile Scrum framework is designed to deliver products and projects of any size. This includes projects, programs, and portfolios. Scrum provides guidelines on delivery techniques, events, and roles. Many of the same ceremonies are held within both a standard Agile scrum project and an Agile Scrum…

Read More

The Scrum Roles For Developers

Scrum is a useful tool for the creation, maintenance, plan, and execution of diverse products and services. The tool consists of…

Read More

The Scrum Team Size For Developers

The basics of Scrum can be easy but implementing them and succeeding with Scrum can be infinitely harder. Scrum …

Read More

The Agile Project Vision For Developers

At the heart of any great product is a great vision. It describes the primary goal or goals of a product and creates a focus that…

Read More

Forming the Scrum Team For Developers

Scrum is a framework that encourages delivery of potentially shippable product increments every 2-6 weeks. The work is…

Read More

Developing Epics For Developers

The term ‘epic’ in agile refers to a large user story that has not yet been defined in detail. Typically, an epic will cover a single…

Read More

The Agile Product Backlog For Developers

A Product Backlog is an organized collection of the existing User Stories (aka Wants and Needs) for an explicit business endeavor. Think of a shopping catalog of User Stories, ordered by urgency, that can be perused and selected from to determine what will be worked on during the current…

Read More

Release Planning For Developers

Although flexibility and adaptability are part and parcel of an agile methodology, this does not mean that no planning is required when…

Read More

Creating User Stories For Developers

User Stories are an integral part of the agile development process. They are an important agile technique that is used to frame…

Read More

Estimating User Stories For Developers

One of the principles of self-managing teams in Agile Scrum is working collaboratively with the Product Owner to effectively deliver…

Read More

Creating Tasks For Developers

According to The Agile Manifesto: “The best architectures, requirements, and designs emerge from self-organizing teams.” As a…

Read More

Estimating Agile Tasks For Developers

In Scrum, a list of user stories is produced and put together to form a product backlog, and each of these user stories will need to…

Read More

Creating the Sprint Backlog For Developers

The Sprint Backlog is defined as a group of user stories that are grouped together during the Sprint Planning Meeting. This…

Read More

Creating the Deliverables For Developers

Agile Scrum provides the framework for delivery of the vision of an organization. Execution of the vision includes processes, ceremonies and project deliverables that are also known as artifacts…

Read More

The Daily Stand-Up For Developers

The daily scrum is an opportunity for developers or anyone committed to working in the sprint to talk to each other to make sure the…

Read More

Product Backlog Prioritisation For Developers

The product backlog is a key element of Agile software development. It facilitates a development environment that creates valuable features and products for stakeholders…

Read More

The Sprint Review Meeting For Developers

The Sprint Review meeting comes at the end of the sprint and the goal of this meeting is to have key people in the room to be able …

Read More

Demonstrating and Validating the Sprint For Developers

As organizations migrate to Agile principles, there may be questions about how the organization can prove that there is value…

Read More

The Sprint Retrospective For Developers

A very simple step by step guide to help you choose the appropriate product development methodology from…

Read More

Releasing the Product For Developers

One of the most important milestones any project will ever have is finally releasing their product and putting it out there. It’s the…

Read More

Regression Testing For Developers

In companies using agile development, it is common to introduce changes in a product incrementally. Along with the new changes, unexpected issues may arise, testing whether the existing functionality is broken or not becomes very important…

Read More

Product Owners

Find out more about the Agile and the Product Owner Role

Read More


Find out more about the Agile and the Developer Role

Read More

More Articles

Read More

Chicken Appreciation Society

Translate »