Scaling your Product Team: When and How to Start

12 December 2022 Writer: Lera Grechanik 238 views

Sooner or later a startup is going to face the need of expanding the team along with projects increasing in numbers or in complexity level. There’s no “perfect” team size that would work for all. The expansion of the development team is rather the startup's ability to set efficient in-team communication, prioritize things wisely and clearly, motivate team members to strive for high results, and take the initiative than simply hiring new developers. 

Before going into “how” it’s important to know “when you scale the product development team” first. Let's look at the top 3 obvious signs that it's time to think about expanding the team.

When It Is Time to Scale the Product Team

The Current Size of the Team Has Become Tight for the Product

It’s quite a run-of-the-mill and natural reason to grow your development crew. You have built software that has found its audience. A number of customers have enrolled for the product and now you need to scope up the project to meet the soaring customers’ demand and to reach the next level. 

The reason for the expansion is that you don't have enough human resources to roll out the product. The current team is too busy or does not possess enough competence to size up the product. WhatsApp and Wase followed exactly the same path to scale the product team.

It is worth noting that it is critical to timely pinpoint the need for team expansion and not to put it off until a better day. Delays can come at a high cost. For example, your place will be taken by a competitor who has implemented user demand faster.

The Idea Stretches Beyond One Product

Your ideas go beyond one product and there is a need to develop side projects. In other words, it's time to move from product to platform. 

The Facebook platform was once a product. Now Facebook is represented by the web and mobile Facebook applications, Messenger, Ads Manager, and Pages Manager. Each of the products is handled by a separate team and product manager even though they are all working for good of the single platform. 

The same growth can take place with your product. So if you decide to move to a platform product and develop one or more backing applications, that's a reason to employ more product developers and generally a whole separate team to create and maintain a sub-product.

The Marketing Campaign Is Way Too Cool

Perhaps you have passionate marketers that overdid it and promoted the app slightly too much. You end up with a situation where user expectations don't match the actual app and the app itself doesn't solve the problem as advertised.

In such a situation, it is necessary to improve the app so that it meets the expectations of users. If this is beyond the capabilities of the current team, then you need to scale the software development team.

The Project Exceeds the Human Resources

As for outsourced software development companies, in addition to the above-mentioned reasons for expanding the software development team in projects, they may also face another quite evident dilemma - a lack of staff to cover all projects.

This problem can be caused by too fast growth in the number of projects or by the lack of skills and experience of current employees to implement customer requests. Scaling the software development team can help solve these problems.

These are the most day-to-day reasons for hire more product developers. Though you may have your own ones, one thing remains important - to not miss the moment when expanding the product team is required. 

Have an exciting project on your mind?
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How to Scale the Product Development Team

Well, your startup falls for the abovementioned reasons or any other reason to scale the product development team. Scaling a team can be viewed from two perspectives: managerial and technical. Today we'll talk about a step-by-step guide on how to scale the software development team from a management perspective.

Defining the Goals of Expansion

First, you need to understand how to scale the product team out of problems, because expanding the software team costs money.

Perhaps your goal is to avoid the risk of work slowdown in the case of employee departure, or any other. Above we have listed the possible reasons to scale the software development team. You can also answer the following questions to understand the purpose of hiring new employees. 

  • Do you need to increase the development speed?
  • Is improving any part of the project your goal?
  • Is the current team able to cover the existing number of projects, or is the number of projects exceeding the human resource of the team?
  • Are you planning to move from product to platform?

Knowing your goals will give you insights into what professionals you’re looking for. Thus, the scaling will be more effective.

Determining the Size of the Team

Team size matters when it comes to project management. A small team is easier to manage. It is believed that the best team size is no more than 7 to 10 people.

There are several tactics for dividing staff into crews:

  • The "whole team” tactic for focusing on a particular development process. If we are talking about product companies, such a team works on a particular feature or side project from start to finish. For example, Spotify and Twitter use this approach. Outsourcing companies also often use this approach. In this case, a team is assigned to a project and works on it.

  • Segregation based on skills is not used in outsourcing companies and is most suitable for product startups. Employees are segregated based on their role in the project: design team, development team, QA team, etc.

Setting Up Project Management

Team performance relies on project management. Do not neglect the below-mentioned aspects when it comes to project management: 

  • Backlog. The backlog should never be incomplete and tasks should be assigned to team members
  • Responsibility. The team is blameworthy for the project or functionality it is working on. Each employee is personally accountable for completing their tasks. 
  • Communication. Fruitful communication is extremely important in project management. Choose communication channels to ensure that every team member gets the information they need quickly and clearly - Jira, Slack, Trello, etc.

Keeping Balance in and Between Teams

When team expansion takes place, there is a risk that company employees will be in different tunes. This is not good in terms of team performance, but the good news is that it can be prevented:

Onboarding of new employees. For better onboarding and faster diving into the state of things on the project assign a tutor to take care of newcomers. 

Keep a team Independent. When it comes to the “whole team” tactic, keep each team separate and independent by keeping the ratio of team members.

Daily statuses. Sharing what was done and is planned to be done is key to harmonizing the workflow inside the team.

Don’t be afraid of leveraging a third party’s services. Scaling the team only to get a part of the work done isn’t wise. Contracting a third party’s dedicated app development team can help to finish the project and keep balance within the teams.

Expanding Your Team With Celadon Tech Talents

If you’re in need of some extra talents for developing a web product or any other software but it’s too early to talk about expanding the team, Celadon can take over the work. We are an outsourced software development team with large expertise in the field and who delivers their services across industries. 

Our tech pros will harmonically blend into your team and strive for better software development as if it were their own project. As a part of the scaled development team, we stick to close collaboration and build effective communication so that you’ll forget that the team members are outsourced. 

 

Areas of responsibility - brand and growth marketing. Strongly believes that software development is an art and marketing is not just about sales but about sharing your passion. Her educational background in the field of business and marketing allows her to create expert content and help others to grow and expand knowledge.

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F.A.Q.

01.
When do you need to scale your team?
Lena
Project Manager

Your team can't always handle all the tasks that come to your company. In cases when the workload exceeds the human resource capabilities, probably it’s time to scale the product team

Typically, team scaling is required in the following cases:

  • The current team size has become insufficient to work on the product;
  • The essence of the project goes beyond just one product;
  • The marketing campaign is too complex;
  • The project exceeds human resources.

 

You can always turn to Celadon to find the right people for your project. There are many talented employees here who can help your business.

 

02.
What is the most effective way to scale a development team?
Sanya
Project Manager

Projects may come in all kinds of complexity. In the process of creating applications, there comes a time when you need to scale the product development team.

We offer below steps on what to do when scaling up a team as a PRO manager:

  • Determining scaling goals;
  • Determining the size of the team;
  • Setting up project management;
  • Maintaining balance within and between teams.

The wisely scaled team will increase your performance.

 

03.
It seems like my team is not able to handle the current workload. What can I do?
Victor
Project Manager

Sooner or later the current team may find that it is not enough for the current workload. This may happen for several reasons. For instance, increase in the number of projects, the projects get more complicated or a project concept required a side app. Whatever the reason for the issue, expanding the team may become a solution.

The important point here is to make it wisely. Erroneous scaling may lead to teamwork disruptions.

 

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