Scaling your software development team: when and how
Your company’s development pipeline has been running smoothly, but recently, new pressure has been placed on you to begin scaling up your operations.
At this point, there is a tendency to scale inefficiently by focusing on intuitive hiring or rushed decisions. It is a process that can work, but more often than not, not without a solid plan and consideration for the big picture.
If the current team is working, there must be a reason. However, as it grows, challenges will become more complex.. Therefore, it is important to focus on what makes the current team structure effective and how that can translate when developing a larger operation.
In this blog post, we will look at some key considerations when scaling a software development team.
It is important to understand that growth is a result and not a process. Growth alone means getting larger; adding more employees, gaining revenue, and even moving to a larger office. When we talk about the growth of a business, we are speaking of one aspect of scaling—the scaffolding that enables growth.
Scaling is the framework that allows a business to grow by thoughtfully introducing processes, operations, and workflows in the places where growth is needed. This makes scaling a strategy as much as a process.
By thinking of scaling as a strategy, businesses can make smart moves toward growing with long-term projections in mind.
By the beginning of 2021, Pulse247 had successfully grown into a company of 30 people and was in the midst of transitioning from startup to a fully-fledged Product Company.
Even though steady growth was welcomed, the product development team had gotten way too big and rigid. This meant that the product development wasn't scaling as it should in order to meet the requirements of the growing business.
The challenges Pulse247 faced were all too usual for a company beginning to outgrow the start-up phase. When scaling up operations, a business must be sure to prepare the foundation.
Here is our checklist.
Visualize the future of your company by making a clear roadmap with goals and objectives. This serves two purposes, first, you have a tool to apply when making hiring decisions, and second, the goals of your business are now transparent to both the current and incoming employees. Scaling up your operations will be easier if everyone is in the know.
By clueing everyone into the company’s goals and objectives, you can establish better work and communication flows both within and between teams. This will yield better brainstorming and improvement of ideas.
It cannot be overstated enough the importance of having the best tools at your team's disposal. Ensuring that the software is scalable and that the company-wide infrastructure is in-line with team growth will ease operations. Teams will be able to remain agile and function more independently if given the necessary tools to prioritize high-impact work and relegate mundane tasks to automated systems.
In remote working environments, businesses must also be sure that their communications and video conferencing software can handle the planned operational growth.
In venture building, scaling up your business should not affect a team’s ability to remain agile. Focus on building diverse and multi-disciplinary teams with clearly defined roles for each member. Thoughtful hiring creates work teams that are adaptable and resilient—an important feature when the structure of your company is shifting due to growth.
Prioritize hires that demonstrate they are capable of self-organization and understand the values of agile working. Even with clearly defined roles, an agile team should be collaborative and work together to create end-to-end functionality.
Developing leaders is essential for the long-term success of a business. This process begins already with the goals and strategies you have defined to implement growth and scale your operations. When fleshing out teams, assigning leadership roles within designated fields will streamline team management.
In the long-term, you are creating proficient individuals who can take on executive positions and enable further growth of your company.
The reality is that many businesses will not succeed during their first attempt to scale up operations. This can be due to mismanagement, poor hiring choices, and of course, an unrealistic view of business expenditure. It is wise to keep the bottom line in mind during every stage of business growth. Scaling operations will often involve unexpected expenses and spending. Having a contingency in place will help you to deliver results as planned.
As you expand, there may come a time when certain tasks are better outsourced for fear of placing too much pressure on your teams. When outsourcing, be sure that the service you purchase brings value to the business that cannot be replicated in-house.
Specific projects may also require certain tasks that go beyond the scope of your company’s usual team structure. In these cases, outsourcing provides flexibility for scaling up or down without letting go of team members upon the completion of a project.
Knowing when and how to scale your software team can be complicated. Putting in place the proper tools with a long-term outlook can lead to colossal growth. Still, there is no one way to scale a team or company. Understanding what is already working and unique about your business will provide clues for how to best adapt as you scale up operations.