We often get asked what the optimal team size is. And of course, it depends. But when taking all possible dependencies into account it could be anywhere from 2 to 25… which in turn is not a terribly helpful estimate.
In most cases of a product or software development team, the optimal team size is a trade-off between independence and responsibilities on one side; collaboration and performance on the other.
The larger the team the more overhead in terms of coordination and communication. So in our experience, there are very few high performing teams with more than 15 members. Think of it: very few sports teams have more than 10-12 players on the field.
The best collaboration and team dynamics are typically found with smaller teams sizes of 5-8; that’s where the need for coordination and communication is essential, and the effect of every team member’s contribution to the goal is significant.
Team works best with full-time dedicated resources that are aligned towards and accountable for achieving a shared goal. In order to do this, the team members should have all the necessary skills and competencies to achieve the goal among themselves.
Measure how many work items your team can complete without dependencies today. Also investigate if there are skills and knowledge the team does not have that would be easy to transfer. What’s optimal in your case does not make it optimal for everyone else. And the other way around, it will also change over time. So inspect and evaluate accordingly.