To capture market opportunities, you need to move fast. And to move fast, you need to scale your team.
That much is clear.
Logic tells you to focus on scaling your delivery team. After all, it’s easy to scale up your technical brains-trust by throwing more talented people at the countless micro-tasks that arise to support and scale a product.
But in practice, scaling only your delivery team will prove counterproductive, and hold your business back over the long-term. Instead, here are three pieces of advice on how to scale strategically.
Scale your product team and engineering team in parallel
It’s tempting to just bring in more engineers when you want to scale, but the challenge is making sure they are focused on the right things. If not, they will wind up just spinning the wheels and being inefficient due to lack of clarity.
At the same time, bringing in more engineers will only put pressure on your product people if you don’t scale the product team as well.
Build the management scaffolding to provide clear navigation
Where you need standardised, modular, and repetitive technical effort for your product, it’s true that many hands make light work.
But only up to a point.
The reality is that scaling effectively isn’t determined by resources, but by how well you can continue to manage all the increasingly complex moving parts as they multiply.
It doesn’t matter whether you have scaled your product and engineering teams – if they don’t have a clear vision there is no guarantee they are going to build the right thing. Rather, you will spend more money achieving less because the team is not going in the right direction or even if they are going in the right direction, they are not completely productive. Not only will you pay a financial cost, but you’ll lose time and pay an opportunity cost too.
The solution is to build management scaffolding around bigger cross-functional teams and navigate them towards a cohesive product vision.
This means bringing in more product and design leaders, who can ensure the team is led well.
Most importantly, these leaders need to be aligned on what you want to achieve and be able to communicate the vision effectively. This will ensure many micro-decisions that product teams make every day are cumulatively moving the product in the right direction (read more on how to make a million correct decisions).
Scale without losing control and overloading leaders
A product and development leader is a leveraged role. If a product leader is stretched across more capacity than they can handle, it is potentially the work of five or more developers that is impacted, and the cost multiplies.
It becomes more challenging for them to maintain context and alignment across teams, which leads to unintentional and unhelpful micro-decisions – all of which cumulatively add hidden costs to the product development.
That’s why, if you’re looking to scale rapidly, it makes good business sense to engage a strategic development partner who can take up some responsibility. Ideally, it should be a partner with experience in leading businesses and products for success at scale.
With a partner like Propel Ventures, you benefit from a combination of an internal and external approach to outsourcing. Our team is autonomous but works within the company’s infrastructure, meaning the company is part of the whole journey and you maintain control and quality even as you outpace your original expectations.
Critically, this also means you don’t have to worry about the risk of handing over your IP and product knowledge to an external consultant. Instead, we always work within the company’s infrastructure and give you full visibility and ownership.
Successful product scaling is not just about technical scaling – it comes down to optimising business processes and working towards a clear vision. That’s why the single most important aspect is to manage at scale. Without building the management structure and up-skilling managers to navigate a growing team of valuable talent, the company and product will lose its way.