7 min read
The pace at which technology is evolving, changes the way businesses operate worldwide. Updates on existing technologies and innovations of new technologies are happening daily. The number of technology providers is also rising, and with intense competition among them, options for the best technology are several.
One of the most important technologies is web application development. Every business that wants to expand its market globally may either build its website or operate under an already established e-commerce website. If they choose to build their website, the real dilemma may be in choosing the right developer for their project. There are two types of developers, full-stack teams and full-stack developers. There have been a lot of arguments, differing opinions, and articles regarding full-stack teams and full-stack developers over the years. The opinions range from the need for specializing in one area or taking responsibility for the entire project.
This notion of full-stack teams and full-stack developers first emerged in the mid-2000s with the introduction of web development. Interest in full-stack teams and full-stack developers (based on Google trends) grew as a result of prolonged conflicts between front-end developers and back-end developers.
From the very start of programming, one person could write a full software program from start to end. These type of programs had only a single layer and required just one computer to run. Then came the computer networks (connecting computers into networks) which altered software development.
Typically, today’s software systems consist of front-end and back-end. Front-end involves everything that a client can see and interact with on a web browser, desktop or smartphone. Back-end, on the other hand, is the service side of the application. It involves all aspects that enable communication between components to fill the client-side with data, such as application, server, database e.t.c.
Software systems can have several tiers or layers, each of which requires complex technologies. This has made programming to evolve to processes that need teamwork. Today programmers are divided into front-end and back-end developers, and each developer is an expert in the technologies they use.
In some instances, dividing development into back-end development and front-end development can result in inefficiencies. Poor communication is the main reason for such inefficiencies. Back-end developers are not always aware of changes in front-end and API, or vice versa. Since they specialize in a narrow field, they may not know if something is wrong on the other end. Discovering mistakes takes time for developers on both ends.
It, therefore, requires effective communication between back-end developers and front-developers for the development to be efficient. This problem has led to the rise of demand for developers with knowledge in both ends; that is full-stack developers and full-stack teams. In case, a mistake happens, a full-stack team or a full-stack developer will be able to check the problem and resolve it themselves. This eliminates the chances of delaying the development process. This tendency of working with a full-stack developer or a full-stack team does only save time but is also cost-effective. So, which type of developer should your organization work with, a full-stack developer or a full-stack team?
A full-stack team is a group of dedicated developers who specialize in various fields of software development (front-end and back-end development, among others).
On the contrary, a full-stack developer is an expert who can work on every part of the development process. A full-stack developer has skills for both front-end and back-end development. So, should a company go for a full-stack team or a full-stack developer? We do not believe it should be one or the other. Rather it depends on the operating model of your company.
A dedicated development team should have the following characteristics:
This is about being able to move quickly and easily. A full-stack team should be able to develop concepts, test concepts, address issues rapidly, deliver the product quickly and be flexible in responding to changes. A full-stack team should have seamless communication, short feedback cycles and passion for action. The team need not be together physically. A virtual team is okay. The important thing is creating a dedicated development team that can make decisions, implement them, and address issues quickly if necessary.
It is important that a full-stack team be empowered to make appropriate decisions. Such decisions include architectural design, feature implementation, and product release. The team should be able to make independent decisions on its priorities. If a team has to continuously seek approval from the top. It is not an empowered team. Additionally, the team may not be held accountable for other people’s decisions.
If a full-stack team is empowered to make independent decisions, it should be held accountable. The team should be held accountable for the end result from every perspective – product quality, meeting expectations, customer requirements, among others. Full responsibility implies that the team should fully understand the impacts and benefits of the product on the end-user and ensure a successful end result.
A full-stack team should do what matters versus what is easy, eliminate waste, and deliver value. This may seem obvious but rarely do you see developers gold-plating features, or a team working on a super cool product that provides value to just a few end users. A full-stack team should be able to eliminate unnecessary waste from the process of achieving that value.
Just like a full-stack developer, a full-stack team should be able to address all issues in every stage of the development process. The team should be autonomous with the right tools and the right skills to deliver the required outcome.
Whether to go for a full-stack developer or a team of specialist depends on such things as project size, complexity, and budget. Of the two, there is a strong case against a full-stack developer (there is a general feeling that a full-stack developer cannot be as effective as a team of specialists). This is based on the fact that it is rare to find a developer with the capability to easily navigate both front-end and back-end with a superior level of expertise.
Ideally, this is what a full-stack developer should be capable of doing:
While there exists full-stack developers who can do well at both ends, only very few can do it at the level of specialist developers. Truly full-stack developers are rare but there are too many people nowadays billing themselves as full-stack developers without the necessary expertise.
The argument against ‘full-stack developers’ can be summed up by the following points:
True full-stack developers are rare and far between. Rather, most self-declared full-stack developers are front-end specialists with some knowledge of back-end development or vice versa.
Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of both kinds of developers.
full-stack teams pros
full-stack teams cons
full-stack developer pros
full-stack developers cons
Now that we have looked at the differences, pros, and cons of the two types of developers, we want to know whom to choose. Actually, the choice very much depends on the project criteria, that is:
Should every organization go for a full-stack team? Or more importantly, is a full-stack team a modern IT utopia? It depends. Your organization may not need teams that are self-sufficient or agile, but teams need to held accountable for their results, be empowered and deliver value.
There are several aspects that determine the best choice for every organization. A full-stack team is the best option in the following instances:
Whether your organization should hire a full-stack team or a full-stack developer is a matter of choice. Now that we have looked at the advantages and disadvantages of both choices, your decision should be based on your budget, project complexity, project size, required quality, urgency, among other things. Finally, it should be noted that most organizations turn to full-stack teams to build their Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and fully-fledged business solutions.