Many of the high-growth start-ups/SMEs we work with face challenges when starting to scale up their businesses, and expand their tech teams. We asked James Heggs from CLOS Consultancy for some top tips for people who are about to embark on scaling their organisations…
Each organisation is different and everyone’s scaling journey will be different, however it can be useful to begin with knowing what you may need to consider when scaling your organisation from a technical standpoint.
With that in mind the following considerations and tips can help on your personal scaling journey.
Optimise for scale and availability at the right time
As more and more organisations move to cloud services such as AWS, Google Cloud or Azure we are provided with an array of infrastructure and services at our disposal within seconds. These services can scale within seconds and provide service availability across the globe. However, having redundancy in multiple availability zones or even further multiple regions does of course increase your operational expenditure.
There are two main options for people who are experiencing service failure:
– Have machines solve the problem through redundancy, automation, monitoring and alerts
– Have humans solve the problem through knowledge and skills
Of course, ideally you have both. However, as you scale try to understand what availability you do have, crucially how the current infrastructure can be scaled (whether it supports it in future) and then scale your services alongside your business scaling. Prematurely scaling your infrastructure can be a large upfront cost and prevent you from getting the all-important application in front of your excited customers.
Focus on your key value
As you grow and bring technical skills in house it can be tempting to feel that everything should be developed in house. Your own internal CRM, a bespoke billing system, user access and authentication are just some of the examples. In some cases the items can be a diversion from the core value of your application – focusing on writing code that allows users to log in and securely stores their credentials is a problem that has been solved by various organisations such as Auth0. Try to bring the ‘Build it’ or ‘Buy it’ decision making process in to your task assessment work.
Automate but value humans
This one is related to a personal mistake I made with direction for scaling a testing team. As the organisation grew we continued to ship more and more releases software. At the time, I thought the best approach to testing was automation and we spent a lot of time training our testers to write automated tests as well as writing frameworks for providing automated tests. However, I undervalued the talent and mindset of our testing team. The consciousness that makes us human. As a result, the quality of the product actually decreased and we re-evaluated our approach.
Valuing the testing team and skills we started to put them in closer contact customer and various functions within the business such as sales and support to really understand what problems the software was solving as well as how people were using the application. When scaling your technical team(s), focus on their true value and talent.
Be aware of context
‘At Google they use this INSERT TECH HERE’ or ‘Spotify have this team structure’, so we should do it too. Technical people can be quite defiant about the ‘correct’ way of doing something – I have been known to be one of these people myself.
We do however tend to ignore the context in which a solution has succeeded.
So when someone says you should use ‘technology X’ or ‘language Y’, try to press them a bit more on why they believe it is a good choice and the context it was applied in.
Interested in finding out more about how to scale tech and manage technical teams/projects? Join CLOS Consultancy for a one-day workshop, fully-funded by the ERDF. You’ll demystify tech jargon, learn how to communicate better with in-house teams/external agencies, and get an overview of processes and quality assurance. Next dates: 23rd Jan 2018, 10th April, 10th July. More details and booking here