Sunday, 2 September 2018

Applied Software Delivery : Full Stack Developer vs Partial Stack Developer

Agile team consists of cross-functional team members, some of them work on the backend, frontend, infrastructure, persistence, etc. Typically developers specialise in one of these areas. However what happens if you identify a constraint in your team? What if a developer leaves? This means you have to hire or borrow a developer from another team. What is the alternative?

Full Stack

This developer is a Swiss army knife developer. Full stack developers have large amount of shallow (and maybe in depth) knowledge and can take on large amount of technologies, such as .NET, Angular, MSSQL, MongoDB, Azure Hosting, Selenium, etc. Finding these people is near impossible, why is explored here by Andy Shora.

Partial Stack

Much more realistic alternative would to be to move away from developers with single speciality towards hybrid developers. These developers would not know the entire stack but they would have a primary (core) and secondary skill. How does this compare?

Team with single skill

Name Skill
John Austin Angular
Vince Perk BDD
Sarah Wood .NET Developer
Ed Skim Test Analyst
Martin Lee Angular
Jason Dmit .NET Developer

Single skill model creates fragile teams. If single skill is not available then developers need to be borrowed from other teams or new additional people need to be hired, chances are that inventory will start to pile up. This slows down overall delivery.

Team with hybrid skills

Name Primary Skill (Core) Secondary Skill
John Austin Angular .NET Developer
Vince Perk BDD .NET Developer
Sarah Wood .NET Developer Angular
Ed Skim Test Analyst BDD
Martin Lee Angular Test Analyst
Jason Dmit .NET Developer BDD

Teams with hybrid developers are less fragile, they can elevate constraints, resolve issues within a team, don’t have to wait for anyone, which means they are more empowered and productive.

To create teams with hybrid developers your company will need to cross-skill existing staff and start hiring people with relevant skills. All of this will take time and patience. However, I do believe that this will not just benefit the organisations, but also the developers.

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