Tips for Scaling a Software Team
Scaling a software team involves more than just hiring new people. It requires looking into a lot of different areas of your organization’s structure. Read on to learn when and how to properly scale your software team.
They say that the greatest investment you can make in your business is your employees. They are considered the most valuable assets of your company, as the backbones of your operations. So as your business grows, so should the ones who manage it.
This is why scaling a team is essential when your startup is expanding. You can’t expect the same level of service when the customer base has doubled and the demand has increased twice as much. You need to ensure that the staff to customer ratio is evened out.
It is especially true in an ever-changing industry such as technology. Scaling a software team is tricky when there’s so much at stake with each project. You don’t want to make mistakes such as hiring the wrong experts or destroying a product you’ve built from scratch. Hence, you must pay close attention to the scaling process.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s first make sure that scaling your software team is indeed the best option.
Are you Ready to Scale?
Premature scaling can be a fatal blow to a business. When you scale your team too early without nailing the product-market fit first, it can be disastrous. A lot of startups fail because they’ve made mistakes in prioritizing the wrong resources. Spending money on things that are not urgently needed will do more harm than good.
Hence, it’s important to determine when you should scale your team. Run through these factors first and see if they are areas that need to be changed.
A lot of software development companies usually follow a flat organizational structure. Having few or no middle management makes it convenient to communicate work faster and easier. It’s suitable for startups because they begin with only a few employees and there’s less need for a hierarchical structure.
However, this will no longer be the case if you’re planning to hire more people. As your team grows, having a flat structure will pose more challenges when there are already too many members. Your workplace will turn into a circus with everyone trying to talk at once. Instead of having a big crowd of people pitching in their ideas and opinions at the same time, you can better hear them out in smaller batches.
Changing your team structure is one of the first things you should consider in scaling your software team. Is there a need to change it? Or are they manageable as they are?
Before making any big decisions, it’s best to test out the water. You don’t want to catch your staff off guard with sudden changes. Everyone has to be on the same page.
For example, if you’re planning to change the team structure, you may want to pitch the idea to your members first. Or if you plan on promoting someone to a higher position, get some feedback from the other members about that person’s performance.
This also applies if you’re planning to change something in the operations. Imposing too many new things at once may end up ruining their momentum. Evaluate the team task management to find out which areas need focus. Give your members a chance to adjust to a new rhythm of work before fully immersing them in it.
Again, before fully committing to the idea of scaling your team, you need to assess if they are ready for it.
Do they have something new to offer? Ideas are great and all but if there’s no concrete plan to mobilize them, then they’ll just go to waste. You may want to hear out what promising ideas your members can come up with and how to go about them.
Empowering your team to speak up will help you gauge whether they’re ready to try new things. If their ideas involve hiring more experts in a particular field, then that’s a good sign to scale up your team.
Keep in mind, when your members pitch it, it has to come with a comprehensive plan. If they’re only throwing out potential possibilities then that means they’re not fully convinced of it yet. Discerning whether they truly have the drive to innovate is an important step in scaling.
Scaling a software team involves assigning new responsibilities and creating new roles. You have to hold people accountable for their positions. Hence, you need to assess if they can also handle a change of assignments or an added workload.
Toss around the idea of giving them bigger responsibilities such as providing mentorship for new members. If the concept appeals to them then you’ll get an assurance that they can seamlessly expand as a team.
Likewise, you also have to properly recognize their value and achievements. They also hold ownership in the company’s success. Before scaling your team, you have to ensure that they’ve made great progress in their current state.
Overall, these are just a few factors to look into before scaling your team. If you find that your team has great potential to grow, then, by all means, encourage them.
How to Scale your Software Team
Now, if you decided it’s time to scale your team. Here’s a quick guide to get started.
There’s no one-size-fits-all process when it comes to scaling a software team. It will depend on the current state of your members and your resources. Do they already have excellent leadership and mentors? Or do they need a new expert with other insights to step in? You can learn all these by simply observing the overall structure of your operations.
So, without further ado, here are the steps in scaling your software team:
1. Identify the reason for scaling
Are you planning to expand into unfamiliar territory? Do you need new leadership to guide you through it? Or do your existing members need a boost for their innovative ideas? In some cases, it’s a combination of all these reasons.
Before getting carried away in hiring new people, you have to clear out why you’re doing so. You have to provide a clear and solid answer for your staff as to why you’re making drastic changes. Explain your goals and the direction you’re steering the company towards.
2. Find a Mentor
Scaling a team can be extremely daunting if you’ve never done it before. This is why a lot of startups seek mentorship in this process. Mentors are often referred to as the secret weapons for success.
Mentored startups tend to grow faster and reach their financial goal quicker than others. With the right mentor, you can be confident in picking out which resources you should invest in. A mentor will also help you network and connect with other people who can help you scale up.
3. Evaluate your Team
You may just have a hidden gem under your nose. Take time to review everyone’s performance on the team and see if there are people who may have the potential for a leadership position. Allow them to take ownership of their tasks so they can also guide new members.
By knowing who to go to for specific tasks, team collaboration would be much easier in the future.
4. Assess your Technology
The upgrade doesn’t stop with just the people, it also applies to what tools they use. Part of scaling is to evaluate which processes can make your team’s job a lot easier.
Say, for example, there’s a tedious task that takes up a chunk of time in their daily routines. You can invest part of your scaling budget in tools to help with it. Or you could assign your developers to code their way in automating that process.
5. Hire new talents
Lastly, you may want to hire experts who are adept in the newest technologies. But this may prove difficult in today’s market. Despite the booming IT industry, finding tech experts is incredibly difficult.
Software developers, in particular, are especially hard to find for a project. Not only do you have a limited talent pool, but it’s also challenging to find a developer who has the right skills and experience.
The best way to go about this problem is to ask for referrals from your team members. Or, you can look into options such as outsourcing software developers.
Scale with Full Scale
Now that we’ve learned how to scale a software team, it’s time to assess yourself. Are you ready to take on the challenge? Threading new shores always have its risks. You may end up losing your way in the new territory. This is why having someone to guide you is important. You have to surround yourself with people who can help you make those crucial decisions.
Full Scale is a software development company that specializes in scaling startups. We draw inspiration from our own experience in scaling our development team. We’ve expanded our operations with the help of talented programmers and project managers. We can help you achieve the same type of upgrade by providing you the resources.
Ready to scale your business? Get your FREE Consultation today!