April 23, 2014
  |   AEM, Blog

Adobe Experience Manager: Pros and Cons of Small vs Big Development Groups

Ask any developer who’s been in the industry for a few years and they’ll tell you stories about previous development teams they have worked with. Some tales of development groups can be pretty comical or heart-wrenching when you look back at them.

Which one of us hasn’t been part of a team that was going to be the next facebook only to crash and burn three months into the project. But let’s face it there are some great and not so great parts of being in a small or large team. Let’s examine the small team first.

Arguably one of the biggest pros of working in a small development group is you don’t have thirty people looking at your code telling you what you did wrong. Or thirty people discussing implementation and two of them just don’t see it everyone else’s way. You don’t spend days and days polishing code to get it just right for your development team only to realize that the client wants something completely different two days later. Small groups of developers can often churn out an inordinate amount of code in a short time period, granted it may not be the most reusable or the cleanest code but you can get it out there to the client.

Just like with anything though there are always cons with working in a small group. Often a small group has minimal senior developers or a pool of developers to ask questions of. You’ll often have to figure things out on your own and spend hours learning something that a majority of developers know you just didn’t have the time to learn. Large development groups have people with strengths and weaknesses and it’s often as easy as walking over to someones desk and explaining the problem. With small development groups, there’s little time for documentation and knowledge transfer since the projects are often going at such a fast pace. Thus leading to possibly the biggest con of a small development group, the impact if one of the developers leaves. With a small group of developers losing one of them can have a tremendous impact on the project, often times leading to other developers having to pick up the slack, missing deadlines and unrealistic expectations.

Large development groups also have their challenges though. In many instances with such a large development team developers can simply feel like a cog in the machine. Just churning out code and not really having much say in how their code gets implemented or the ability to talk to the client about what they really want and the end goal of the project. This is great for some, but others want to learn new technologies or take on more responsibility.

One of the great things about large development teams is the amount of documentation and ramp up time on the project. Usually, there is well put together documentation and if you have a question usually more than one person knows the answer or has touched the code. There is also little to no ramp up time on larger development teams due to the documentation, amount of other people who have done it and the ability to turn to the person next to you and they can walk you through the code or walk you through getting set up. One of the often overlooked parts of large development teams is the knowledge base you have to pull from. Not every developer is the same and they have their strengths and weaknesses. When you work with a large team inevitably someone has run into a similar problem to yours and figured out a solution for it. You don’t have to spend hours googling to simply uncover that it was a simple line of code you were missing.

Everyone is different and some prefer working in a small team or choose a small company when building their site.  But when you’re dealing with large enterprise level applications and sites with many moving parts it’s much better to go with a company that has a group of experienced developers. This is where Blue Acorn iCi’s eTeams can help you with your needs. Blue Acorn iCi has a group of experienced Adobe Experience Manager developers that have worked together on multiple projects. Whether it be executing a CMS migration, architecting your project or training developers.

John Zeren
John Zeren has over 12 years of industry experience with a passion and focus on web application development. As the VP of Software Development at Blue Acorn iCi, John is responsible for ensuring quality and consistency in our delivery to our customers as well as helping to maintain and build strong relationships. He is also responsible for the tactical and operational direction for the Digital Solutions team and ensuring that individuals have the best means and opportunities to succeed, thrive, and grow in a fast-paced environment.
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