5 things to consider if you decided to scale up your software development team

Actually, we might write a book on the topic. And the book would begin with “well, that’s not a good idea, you know.”

One thing you can expect is that growing considerably (3+ times) in several months ends with a team that is so much different so that you could possibly consider setting up the team from scratch in any case.

Besides of this, here are a couple of possible cautions that you should pay attention to facing such challenge:

With 20+ developers, it is very, very challenging to run a team without any hierarchy whatsoever.

Google made a try to have 50+ direct reports per team lead although I’m unsure whether this approach has actually confirmed to be sustainable. In any case, the most apparent case is to spread out 20+ developers amongst a couple of teams. Which implies that …

You need to have leaders.

A few of them. The approach how to get them is most likely the biggest challenge of the entire puzzle. It is less likely that 5 initial employees would make great candidates for leaders. Heck, the chances are that none would. So the question is how you can recruit the leaders? Internally from the organization you work for, on the job market, drawing attention to the organization, headhunting, or just what have you. There are lots of solutions here, although neither of them is a sure shot. In fact …

None of your recruitment ideas would be a sure shot.

Setting up the team so quickly implies that there’s no time at all for them to adapt existing organizational culture. If you make bad hires, it will definitely impact how the team works. The initial team lineup will be weakened – do not expect from them to uphold the culture. The outcome of paying a lot of focus to the quality of hires implies that …

Your recruitment process is another tricky stuff.

I would suggest getting the entire team engaged in employing process a must – after all, you wish to sustain the culture and who are you to presume that you understand all of it? On the other hand, such speedy hiring is a challenge by itself taking into consideration you do not desire merely a random bunch of chaps working for you half a year later on. It likely implies that the team will be paying as much attention as possible to the recruitment process, which likewise assumes that team’s performance will nosedive. It should not be that much of an issue considering that …

Setting up a brand-new team from scratch assumes that they need to have some time before they get to the performance.

Tuckman’s model of group development says that every group requires time before they begin to perform. It certainly applies to considered case although some argue (like Mark Levinson in this podcast) that it takes place when any new employee enrolls with the team. This implies that you most likely intend to pay much focus on how the teams are arranging themselves and whether it is lined up with the objectives of the entire 20-people group.