How to Scale Your Product Development Team Painlessly

scale software team

Team scaling is all about bringing new specialists to an existing team in order to increase project capacity. Today, organisations typically have two ways to scale their internal product engineering teams:

  • By hiring new required skills locally, and
  • By extending in-house teams overseas and augmenting them with remote resources.

Attracting and hiring new employees implies that an effective recruitment strategy is developed and put in place. Experience and data show that, based on geography, recruitment can be quite competitive. 

Since finding and hiring highly-qualified tech talent fast is a huge challenge today (and Evolve has firsthand experience with overcoming it), an excellent screening process is a must for your in-house recruitment team or an external agency you use. A competent interviewing panel is required to ensure that over-indexing on technical abilities and under-indexing on attitude and cultural differences will be avoided.     

Tips for Overcoming Team Scaling Challenges

What can you do to overcome the issues that pop up during the team scaling process? Below are some useful tips.

Scale While Aligning With Company Strategy

Companies should scale their development teams while complying with their higher-level product evolution and/or R&D strategies. Failure to comprehend the purpose of scaling and how it aligns with the company’s collective plan can damage the entire team experiences. While communicating the bigger picture can be tricky, it is essential to figure out what the first months of employee engagement will be like.

It’s recommended that you hire a facilitator or moderator outside of your organisation to lead your corporate strategy session. This will help avoid subjectivism and look at your business through someone else’s eyes. The session should gather all of your key stakeholders and decision-makers. Ideally, you should conduct strategy sessions every quarter or at least every six months to make sure your company is moving in the right direction and change it fast if your strategic goals are deemed wrong. This session can also help ensure buy-in for scaling your software development endeavour (read Team) from senior leadership.

Scale While Keeping an Eye on Dependencies

The majority of teams today take on several functions. They handle product management, design, research, engineering, testing, and data analytics, among other operations. As such, companies should understand the needed dependencies. There should be useful references as well as cross-functional partnerships, especially between operational people and developers. A great practice to align operational and development teams is to adopt DevOps and at least partial automation of cross-team collaboration.

For instance, at Evolve, we specialise in building client-tailored Extended Teams in Ukraine, while always keeping DevOps in the UK (where we’re headquartered) to ensure a higher level of data protection and overall cybersecurity improvement.

Improve Your Candidate Screening 

Having the right workforce is vital. Companies should always make sure they have a well-documented, repeatable, and flexible screening process. It is also essential to emphasize behavioral screening by identifying the company’s values and culture. This way, the organisation can interview applicants with these aspects in mind. However, if you only rely on your in-house recruitment team to scale your project development team, you may be hindered by a long time to hire. Screening each candidate before sending them an invitation to take part in a job interview will make your recruitment process twice as long. Therefore, it’s critical for team scaling success to deal with pre-screened and pre-vetted candidates. What’s even more important is the quality of candidates.

Some of our Extended Team clients complain that they have pretty “old developer population” back home, i.e., the pool is overwhelmed with legacy-bound developers who’ve been using the same tech stack for decades and don’t want to pursue any career changes. That said, they could go for weeks screening candidates whose quality (a mix of competencies, soft and hard skills) left a lot to be desired. In addition, if you’re only looking for candidates within your home country, it means all of your local competitors and peers are doing the same – sourcing from the same pool.

One proven way to access untapped pools full of flexible talent skilled in the newest tech is to go with software team extension and build a dedicated software team in resource-rich yet low-cost locations like Ukraine.

Be Inclusive and Diverse

Many software engineering teams today are rather homogeneous and/or male dominant, i.e., lack diversity. In order to innovate, you need gender and culturally diverse talent. Team extension overseas is a great way to build and take advantage of a truly diverse team. 

Feel free to read more about the importance of diverse software engineering teams in this blog post.

Steps to Scaling a Software Development Team

Here is a detailed walkthrough on how to scale your software product dev team. 

Lay Out a Framework for Team Scaling

It all boils down to your resource planning function. Your product owner and PM/tech lead should have a clear plan for product scaling and new features development/deployment and your team scaling plan should be aligned to it.

Scaling should never be considered as an afterthought and should be embedded in your product’s DNA just like security should be embedded in your product design from stage 1 of SDLC. 

Pitch Your Project Like a Startupper

It’s useless to deny the fact that seasoned software engineers would always choose to work at an established brand rather than a startup. Again, it all boils down to financial stability and perks.

Larger companies can afford “cooler” perks and better stability. As such, nearly every company big and small (unless you’re a giant receiving hundreds of inbound resumes on a daily basis) needs to pitch their project to developers with all the passion and zeal startup founders pitch their projects to investors craving for funding. While a startup may not have all the bells and whistles of a Fortune 500 company, it can offer other benefits such as challenging tasks and, as a result, better advancement in qualification and professional development in general. 

So you need to find several unique selling points that will help you catch more seasoned developers in your nets and get them interested in joining your product engineering team. 

Since it’s not a completely new team, shooting a video with your entire team sharing their positive experience of working on your project can yield great results.

Also, find out the worth of your company values and synch your project pitch with them.

At Evolve, we Listen, Transform, and Enrich. We use these values as the foundation of our corporate culture and the key element of our brand identity. It means that regardless of an engagement type, we listen to each client's needs, vision, and challenges during a comprehensive discovery workshop (that comes as a #1 step in our business collaboration). We then transform how our clients used to develop/manage software before by extending their in-house team to our Ukraine-based R&D Centre. And we finally enrich each client's in-house team with new knowledge and skills, which allows them to in-source and establish internal expertise

Ensure a Healthy Mix of Technical Skills and Roles In Your Team

Among the most expensive mistakes brands make when scaling their teams is putting too much emphasis on someone’s hard skills only. Don’t make the mistake of recruiting too many experienced and inexperienced developers. In a team of ten employees, there should be at least two experienced (senior) engineers for every eight junior developers. Otherwise, the team will not be productive. Having too many rookies can lower team productivity. On the other hand, having too many senior developers can be detrimental to your team success, too. 

If you see that developing a new module will consist primarily of repetitive and routine tasks, hiring several senior developers can lead to situations when they become bored and start leaving your project for more challenging opportunities. You don’t want to deal with overheads each time you have to replace a team member with professional burnout, do you? So, in this case, you’d rather hire one senior developer to lead an endeavour and 2-3 junior developers for repetitive tasks. In their spare time, your senior developers can be used to mentor the novices. 

Do you need assistance scaling your product engineering team fast and cost-effectively? Get in touch with Evolve to learn how we make a difference!

Create your account