Four Ways to Scale a Development Team

The Paradox of Popularity is no joke. The more customers you have, the harder it is to provide all of them with the level of service that they have come to expect.

While you’re fixing bugs and building out enough capacity to avoid server latency, the requests for features and improvements will stack up. You’ll end up losing customers not because of anything you’ve done wrong, but just because you’re not improving the application fast enough to hold their interest.

To stay profitable in this tough market, you have to learn how to scale a development team fast enough to satisfy demand, but not so fast that the quality suffers. Many small businesses start out with small development teams by default and then suddenly find themselves swamped with more work than the initial team can handle. Hiring without a scaling strategy often ends up in disaster because the team dynamics disintegrate as you add in more variables.

Here are four critical considerations to scale up without the development team flying apart:

1. Match Up Personalities

From a rational standpoint, it would make sense to break up teams into technical abilities and match them to an architectural breakdown of the application. However, that almost never works.

What makes teams efficient and productive is when they can rely on each other, know what the others are trying to accomplish and feel comfortable enough to offer help. In order to accomplish this, though, you need to make sure your employees’ personalities match.

Unfortunately, you can rarely divide them up according to both their functions and their compatibility. Instead, break up the teams based on who works well with whom and then bring in the technical knowledge they need to fill in the gaps.

2. Start From the UX

The next most important consideration in scaling software development teams is the user experience. Instead of bringing together the Java experts or the back-end developers, bring together a unit that can improve the function of certain features, such as pulling in data from the web. After all, that’s what users care about in the end. As each customer advocate development team scales up, it will need a little bit of knowledge about every part of the whole to improve the experience.

3. Right-Size the Team

Typically, you can expect core teams to contain four to 12 developers. Any smaller and they will spend all of their time trying to bring in the knowledge they need, but any larger and coordination details eat away too much of the development time. You may be surprised to learn that many teams that are geographically dispersed but know how to effectively collaborate online perform better than locally-based teams.

4. Outsource the Brain Power

When it becomes clear that you don’t have enough manpower to adequately manage a rapidly increasing number of projects, it’s time to get help. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hire full-time developers. Any changes to your existing software development team structure is going to impact how your employees work together.

You don’t have to measure productivity after a hiring event to observe how disruptive it is to team dynamics. When your company is under pressure to perform, the ramifications of hiring can unbalance the entire value chain.

The smartest way to dial up your software development team size without taking a major hit to productivity is to partner with a company that specializes in software development services on the fly. That way you’ll keep your productive teams intact and be ready to take advantage of your new-found popularity.

If you’re looking for someone to build an app for you or if you have questions, contact our team at Concepta and we’ll be able to help.

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