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Core Product Teams – What Size Performs Best?

In 2015, Agile, Business Analysis, Product Management, Product Management Facts, Product Owner, Product Teams, Project Management, Scrum, Sean Van Tyne, Take Charge Product Management, The Study of Product Team Performance, Uncategorized, User Experience by [email protected]2 Comments

Our market research into high performance product teams continues to yield interesting data about the factors that distinguish the most effective product teams from the pack. In last week’s post Sean Van Tyne and I highlighted our finding that core product teams composed of five to nine members are the most common configuration spanning the majority of company size segments. This week I want to focus in on how core team size impacts performance.

A Core Product Teams Size Matters

Our data shows that product teams which report that they “deliver value consistently on scope, schedule and cost” tend to be small in size. In fact, core product teams of between one to four team members are the only size configuration that report consistently high levels of execution.

Once core product teams reach five to nine team members, the most common size, respondents report a drop-off in consistent value delivery. The majority of respondents (41%) report that they continue to deliver value – but do so with less consistency. As core product teams increase in size the likelihood that they will outperform their counterparts also continues to decline.

In fact, 50% of product teams composed of between ten to thirty team members report that they “deliver value but lack consistency” and this number (approximately 50%) also holds true as teams jump up to thirty or more.


There are many factors that influence the effectiveness of core product teams, size is only one factor. However, the data clearly shows the smaller the core product team the more likely it is to perform effectively. While one to four core product team members is optimal from a performance standpoint, it is not realistic for larger organizations, where five to nine team members is most common. Ultimately managing the size of product teams matters but it is one of a host of factors that can influence product team effectiveness.


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  1. What is your definition of a product team? Are you referring to PM team as a department or the product development team including eng / QA that constructs the product as a unit?

    1. Author

      Hi Shivan, the survey defines “core” product teams as the inner most concentric circle. The titles will vary by company size, product development method used and/or vertical. In a tech company the core team might include the product owner/manager, lead engineer, a BA and a project manager/scrum master or a wide variety of other combinations. We differentiate between “core” and “extended”. Extended team members vary as well but might include for instance a product marketing manager, etc. They are not involved in the daily decision-making but are important to the successful launch of the product. Extended product teams are the next concentric circle out contributing to the success of the product but are not typically involved in the daily decision making process.

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