Scaling Software Teams: Challenges & Solutions

Andy Charters
.
August 18, 2023
IT Outsourcing

If you’ve been on the right track since you started your tech business, scaling your software team is inevitable. It's only normal because users will begin to trust your product more, undoubtedly leading to increased software development. What's the next to do when the work increases?

It's easy to think that hiring more people will fix all the problems. Well, news flash, scaling software development teams often fails. The sad reality is that many startups fail at their scaling- process due to the known pitfalls. The good news is, you don't have to fall where others have.

Are you thinking of scaling your developer team? Wondering how to choose the best person for the job? If your answer to any of these questions is 'yes,' then you've come to the right place. Here at Cloud Employee, we work with companies looking to hire professional offshore developers in the Philippines. We've seen immense improvement in our client’s operations in terms of workforce efficiency.

With that said, this article will highlight the common challenges and solutions that come with scaling up your tech team. In the end, you'll understand why your company needs a good software development team and also the solutions you need to avoid the scaling changes altogether.

Software Development Team Scaling: Why You Need To scale Your Software Development Team

Before we look at the challenges and solutions of scaling up your tech team, it's best to know why you need them in the first place. After all, you probably have an in-house team hired for the same software development.

  • Faster turn around time
  • Reduced cost of operation
  • Your in-house team lacks the experience you need
  • You'll get access to more experienced offshore talent.
  • You'll focus more on strategic goals.
  • It takes some of the stress that comes with managing a team from you.
  • You'll manage staff that exists as replacements won't be a challenge.
  • You'll get novel ideas that are different from the conventional in-house team approach, which may be limited by bureaucracy.

With all these advantages come challenges that prevent business owners from getting the best when scaling their development team.

Eight challenges and Solutions of Software Development Team Scaling

 

  1. Product management plan (PMP) to guide your team development

Here's the thing; it's not like companies that fail at scaling don’t set up a management plan at all; it’s the focus of the plan that makes their scaling-process a "broken arrow." One thing that's common with most startups is trying to achieve a whole lot within a short time, making their plan tech-driven instead of being value-driven.

For instance, a tech company that has successfully acquired funding and decides to adopt the latest programming language. What’s next for them? They begin to assemble a team of coders without the proper road map and procedure for implementation.

Since it’s not an adequately planned task, what happens is that the choice of tech may not align with the project's efficient development. Even worse, the product's functionality may not even help the end-user. So, they will have to make adjustments, which results in a waste of money and time.

Solution

Don't confuse growth with scaling up. Many startups don't know there's a thin line between the two. Growth means you are expanding. Hiring an offshore team does not necessarily equate to growth. On the other hand, you need to scale for efficient delivery at a minimal cost.

That's why you could be scaling up or scaling down. Therefore, your product management plan must have a purpose and concept that clearly shows how it provides value to the end-user. It will help you hire an offshore development team properly, split projects appropriately, and get ready for any possible changes demanded by stakeholders.

You can not adopt a figure-it-out-as-you-go approach, so make sure it's formal even before you start spending. Altogether, your plan must get you to the market on time within a budget.

  1. Hiring a development team

It's almost impossible to scale without hiring. Thanks to offshoring, hiring talent has never been better. However, the idea of going offshore for talent is to achieve a faster turnaround, get the best hands, and save money. So how does hiring become a challenge?

When scaling up, binge-hiring is common, especially when you get tech talent from places like the Philippines, where developers' annual wage is relatively lower. However, you can't just assemble a team without considering factors that'll ensure their effectiveness and efficiency. Business owners often think that a large group will naturally achieve more; that’s a mistake.

Solution

Before you hire your development team, consider the following factors:

  • Amount of coding required, which determines how many developers is needed
  • Level of experience of coders to reduce errors and bugs.
  • When you want to arrive at the market for a proper timeline establishment.
  • Product specifications, i.e., programming languages, needed to determine the talents required.
  • Leveraging on time zone difference for efficient round-the-clock operation without shaving the life of your development team.
  • A proper integration plan between your in-house and remote team

If you are a tech expert, you can go the extra mile to set up one-on-one interviews with the team you'll be working with. Please make sure they are an appropriate fit for the project. A developer with project development experience will likely know the challenges to expect and how to resolve them.

  1. Communication management

It doesn't matter how fantastic your team is; scaling up is a nightmare without an efficient communication plan. Imagine how difficult it is to manage your in-house team and visualize how fast things can spin out of control when you can't communicate with remote teams.

While trying to scale, most startups don't establish a communication strategy that will address time zone differences, language barriers, and organizational cultural differences. You'd be surprised how much can go wrong in the absence of effective communication.

Solution

If you are scaling up for a project that your in-house and distributed team will work on simultaneously, it’s best to patch-in the remote team to your in-house communication platform. Nevertheless, if you are trying to play it safe, which is understandable, set up a new communication platform. Your core team may not be too happy with the changes, therefore getting everyone on board is also vital.

Remember, time zone differences. As you leverage to ensure round-the-clock operation, keep in mind that the offshore team has to sleep tool. Establishing an effective way to communicate during emergencies is undoubtedly an effective way to operate. You can ensure a dedicated member of your in-house is available to attend to emergencies from the other time zones.

  1. Scalability & CI/CD

Continuous integration and delivery one way to deliver apps frequently by introducing automation into the software development stages. CI/CD is essentially the solution to the possible problems that can arise when  individual team members integrate their code, a term known as "integration hell."

The challenge with scaling  CI/CD is that it may work effectively with a small team. Still, as the team starts to grow, new CI pipelines and communication issues become inevitable.

Solution

You can easily add new infrastructure for any project, at any time using an infrastructural code approach. Furthermore, It doesn't matter what the scaling level is; by utilizing a method of isolating individual parts of the software development from the entire tech infrastructure, you'll achieve easy management of application pieces more effectively. You’ll also do well to integrate other automation approaches with your CI/CD tools, such as automated testing.

  1. Managing outsourced development teams

Outsourcing is one of the typical approaches to scaling your business. However, an outsourced team needs to be proper management. Once there's proper process in place to assign tasks to the in-house and outsourced team, many business owners assume that work will go smoothly. That's not the case most times.

The common error is that to save money, they circumvent the need for a remote manager. This decision can be a recipe for a scaling nightmare. As a startup trying to achieve scaling your business, you may not have the experience of managing a remote team. It’s even more difficult if you know very little about tech operations.

Solution

Hire a local offshore project manager; they’ll first eliminate cultural and geographic barriers, thereby promoting smooth communication. A local manager can also manage some of the issues that come with time zone differences, such as communicating with the entire team during emergencies.

That's not all; the project manager will help keep your development team focused and ensure work is in line with set goals. Altogether, you'll achieve your aim for scaling with an effective offshore team, which a manager's presence can help you promote.

  1. Manual operation

You may not be able to eliminate manual activities from software development. In fact, when we say automation, there's still some manual execution involved. Altogether manual action causes too many bottlenecks. As you aim at scaling your development team, manual tasks become more challenging to execute and, of course, increases in number.

Solution

Automating as much as you can is a lot better than the manual process. Reduce manual activities to the acceptable minimum with testing as the first point of call. As you scale up, the team gets larger. If you use the right software development practice, you'll likely have your project in smaller groups. Meaning, the project will involve the integration of several completed tasks. Testing on the go is the only way to fix bugs and errors on time.

  1. Prepare your code for scaling

As you scale up, the new team will likely have some problems with the existing shared codebases. Diving into another developer's written code can be slightly tricky. It can take a couple of weeks to familiarize yourself with working on someone's code. Altogether, it can affect productivity as you attempt to scale your development team.

Solution

Right from scratch, the goal must be to make the code reusable and straightforward. This way, adding new hands to the development operation will be seamless. Ensure every team member sticks to the agreed code and coding concept. It'll be great for team members to name one concept with the same word across diverse classes. Also, to make work easier for new developers, adopt descriptive terms instead of short forms, only the designer can understand.

  1. Maintaining  productivity

The problem here is that you can't initiate some tasks without completing another. This order makes it pointless to have too many developers on a task. What it means is that more developers don't translate to quicker or quality coding.

Solution

Besides hiring experienced coders to handle the tasks developers can't work on simultaneously, the programming language you pick can also boost productivity. Also,  adopt KPI measurement tools, which will gauge qualitative and quantitative requirements against time. This way, progress or productivity won't merely depend on the number of code written, but the functionality of code in real-time software operation.

To Conclude

Whether you are a startup or at the break-even point, you’ll likely get to a point where software development team where scaling is the next task at hand. The truth is, it's not all unicorn and rainbows. While trying to achieve high productivity, it's easy to end up spending more money without attaining your aim.

With the proper planning and implementation strategy, you are halfway there. That's because a well-designed plan usually requires little or no changes. This way, you'll likely get to the market on time since your product will offer value to the end-user.

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Full-Stack PHP Developer Tech Lead

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Senior Full-Stack PHP Developer

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Scaling Software Teams: Challenges & Solutions

February 16, 2024

If you’ve been on the right track since you started your tech business, scaling your software team is inevitable. It's only normal because users will begin to trust your product more, undoubtedly leading to increased software development. What's the next to do when the work increases?

It's easy to think that hiring more people will fix all the problems. Well, news flash, scaling software development teams often fails. The sad reality is that many startups fail at their scaling- process due to the known pitfalls. The good news is, you don't have to fall where others have.

Are you thinking of scaling your developer team? Wondering how to choose the best person for the job? If your answer to any of these questions is 'yes,' then you've come to the right place. Here at Cloud Employee, we work with companies looking to hire professional offshore developers in the Philippines. We've seen immense improvement in our client’s operations in terms of workforce efficiency.

With that said, this article will highlight the common challenges and solutions that come with scaling up your tech team. In the end, you'll understand why your company needs a good software development team and also the solutions you need to avoid the scaling changes altogether.

Software Development Team Scaling: Why You Need To scale Your Software Development Team

Before we look at the challenges and solutions of scaling up your tech team, it's best to know why you need them in the first place. After all, you probably have an in-house team hired for the same software development.

  • Faster turn around time
  • Reduced cost of operation
  • Your in-house team lacks the experience you need
  • You'll get access to more experienced offshore talent.
  • You'll focus more on strategic goals.
  • It takes some of the stress that comes with managing a team from you.
  • You'll manage staff that exists as replacements won't be a challenge.
  • You'll get novel ideas that are different from the conventional in-house team approach, which may be limited by bureaucracy.

With all these advantages come challenges that prevent business owners from getting the best when scaling their development team.

Eight challenges and Solutions of Software Development Team Scaling

 

  1. Product management plan (PMP) to guide your team development

Here's the thing; it's not like companies that fail at scaling don’t set up a management plan at all; it’s the focus of the plan that makes their scaling-process a "broken arrow." One thing that's common with most startups is trying to achieve a whole lot within a short time, making their plan tech-driven instead of being value-driven.

For instance, a tech company that has successfully acquired funding and decides to adopt the latest programming language. What’s next for them? They begin to assemble a team of coders without the proper road map and procedure for implementation.

Since it’s not an adequately planned task, what happens is that the choice of tech may not align with the project's efficient development. Even worse, the product's functionality may not even help the end-user. So, they will have to make adjustments, which results in a waste of money and time.

Solution

Don't confuse growth with scaling up. Many startups don't know there's a thin line between the two. Growth means you are expanding. Hiring an offshore team does not necessarily equate to growth. On the other hand, you need to scale for efficient delivery at a minimal cost.

That's why you could be scaling up or scaling down. Therefore, your product management plan must have a purpose and concept that clearly shows how it provides value to the end-user. It will help you hire an offshore development team properly, split projects appropriately, and get ready for any possible changes demanded by stakeholders.

You can not adopt a figure-it-out-as-you-go approach, so make sure it's formal even before you start spending. Altogether, your plan must get you to the market on time within a budget.

  1. Hiring a development team

It's almost impossible to scale without hiring. Thanks to offshoring, hiring talent has never been better. However, the idea of going offshore for talent is to achieve a faster turnaround, get the best hands, and save money. So how does hiring become a challenge?

When scaling up, binge-hiring is common, especially when you get tech talent from places like the Philippines, where developers' annual wage is relatively lower. However, you can't just assemble a team without considering factors that'll ensure their effectiveness and efficiency. Business owners often think that a large group will naturally achieve more; that’s a mistake.

Solution

Before you hire your development team, consider the following factors:

  • Amount of coding required, which determines how many developers is needed
  • Level of experience of coders to reduce errors and bugs.
  • When you want to arrive at the market for a proper timeline establishment.
  • Product specifications, i.e., programming languages, needed to determine the talents required.
  • Leveraging on time zone difference for efficient round-the-clock operation without shaving the life of your development team.
  • A proper integration plan between your in-house and remote team

If you are a tech expert, you can go the extra mile to set up one-on-one interviews with the team you'll be working with. Please make sure they are an appropriate fit for the project. A developer with project development experience will likely know the challenges to expect and how to resolve them.

  1. Communication management

It doesn't matter how fantastic your team is; scaling up is a nightmare without an efficient communication plan. Imagine how difficult it is to manage your in-house team and visualize how fast things can spin out of control when you can't communicate with remote teams.

While trying to scale, most startups don't establish a communication strategy that will address time zone differences, language barriers, and organizational cultural differences. You'd be surprised how much can go wrong in the absence of effective communication.

Solution

If you are scaling up for a project that your in-house and distributed team will work on simultaneously, it’s best to patch-in the remote team to your in-house communication platform. Nevertheless, if you are trying to play it safe, which is understandable, set up a new communication platform. Your core team may not be too happy with the changes, therefore getting everyone on board is also vital.

Remember, time zone differences. As you leverage to ensure round-the-clock operation, keep in mind that the offshore team has to sleep tool. Establishing an effective way to communicate during emergencies is undoubtedly an effective way to operate. You can ensure a dedicated member of your in-house is available to attend to emergencies from the other time zones.

  1. Scalability & CI/CD

Continuous integration and delivery one way to deliver apps frequently by introducing automation into the software development stages. CI/CD is essentially the solution to the possible problems that can arise when  individual team members integrate their code, a term known as "integration hell."

The challenge with scaling  CI/CD is that it may work effectively with a small team. Still, as the team starts to grow, new CI pipelines and communication issues become inevitable.

Solution

You can easily add new infrastructure for any project, at any time using an infrastructural code approach. Furthermore, It doesn't matter what the scaling level is; by utilizing a method of isolating individual parts of the software development from the entire tech infrastructure, you'll achieve easy management of application pieces more effectively. You’ll also do well to integrate other automation approaches with your CI/CD tools, such as automated testing.

  1. Managing outsourced development teams

Outsourcing is one of the typical approaches to scaling your business. However, an outsourced team needs to be proper management. Once there's proper process in place to assign tasks to the in-house and outsourced team, many business owners assume that work will go smoothly. That's not the case most times.

The common error is that to save money, they circumvent the need for a remote manager. This decision can be a recipe for a scaling nightmare. As a startup trying to achieve scaling your business, you may not have the experience of managing a remote team. It’s even more difficult if you know very little about tech operations.

Solution

Hire a local offshore project manager; they’ll first eliminate cultural and geographic barriers, thereby promoting smooth communication. A local manager can also manage some of the issues that come with time zone differences, such as communicating with the entire team during emergencies.

That's not all; the project manager will help keep your development team focused and ensure work is in line with set goals. Altogether, you'll achieve your aim for scaling with an effective offshore team, which a manager's presence can help you promote.

  1. Manual operation

You may not be able to eliminate manual activities from software development. In fact, when we say automation, there's still some manual execution involved. Altogether manual action causes too many bottlenecks. As you aim at scaling your development team, manual tasks become more challenging to execute and, of course, increases in number.

Solution

Automating as much as you can is a lot better than the manual process. Reduce manual activities to the acceptable minimum with testing as the first point of call. As you scale up, the team gets larger. If you use the right software development practice, you'll likely have your project in smaller groups. Meaning, the project will involve the integration of several completed tasks. Testing on the go is the only way to fix bugs and errors on time.

  1. Prepare your code for scaling

As you scale up, the new team will likely have some problems with the existing shared codebases. Diving into another developer's written code can be slightly tricky. It can take a couple of weeks to familiarize yourself with working on someone's code. Altogether, it can affect productivity as you attempt to scale your development team.

Solution

Right from scratch, the goal must be to make the code reusable and straightforward. This way, adding new hands to the development operation will be seamless. Ensure every team member sticks to the agreed code and coding concept. It'll be great for team members to name one concept with the same word across diverse classes. Also, to make work easier for new developers, adopt descriptive terms instead of short forms, only the designer can understand.

  1. Maintaining  productivity

The problem here is that you can't initiate some tasks without completing another. This order makes it pointless to have too many developers on a task. What it means is that more developers don't translate to quicker or quality coding.

Solution

Besides hiring experienced coders to handle the tasks developers can't work on simultaneously, the programming language you pick can also boost productivity. Also,  adopt KPI measurement tools, which will gauge qualitative and quantitative requirements against time. This way, progress or productivity won't merely depend on the number of code written, but the functionality of code in real-time software operation.

To Conclude

Whether you are a startup or at the break-even point, you’ll likely get to a point where software development team where scaling is the next task at hand. The truth is, it's not all unicorn and rainbows. While trying to achieve high productivity, it's easy to end up spending more money without attaining your aim.

With the proper planning and implementation strategy, you are halfway there. That's because a well-designed plan usually requires little or no changes. This way, you'll likely get to the market on time since your product will offer value to the end-user.

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