Scaling Engineering Teams: 5 Tips for Success
Create an Engineering Toolkit
Scaling your engineering team is as much about people as it is about the process. Whether you’re a startup or an established business, there is no one size fits all solution. But there is a proven process to ensure that you can put in place the necessary processes and skills, and recruitment structures to ensure you can sustainably scale your engineering teams.
1. Build the Team
One of the best ways to build a scalable engineering team is to take the time to build the right team. You need to identify the skill sets, personalities and backgrounds that will be the key contributors to your company’s success. This is usually easier when working with small groups of people but can be more difficult when working with large numbers of people. Research potential new team members, read their bios, look at how their experience relates to your needs, and develop a clear set of metrics that will help you to choose the right people for your team. Team Development Once you’ve picked out the right people, you need to develop them. This is typically the most challenging part of the process and can be fraught with risk if done incorrectly.
2. Hire for Culture Fit
Before you add any engineering hires, you have to ensure they’ll fit in and complement the team you have. The “culture fit” component is critical as new people will inevitably bring their own unique experiences to your team. Before getting any engineers on board, evaluate their capabilities and how they’ll fit into your team. Are they professionals with the required skills and talents? If not, don’t waste time training them and try to recruit new talent. Ask the Right Questions. Do your interviewers know the right questions to ask? Do they care about what you value? This is especially important when scaling a team, as you need to focus on the people who will make or break your business. Interviewers need to ask the right questions.
3. Create an Engineering Toolkit
While I have discussed the tools and structure that make scaling engineering teams more effortless, we have talked about the people who deliver the work. So how can you ensure that your people are well-equipped to handle the growing complexity of their tasks? Having an engineering toolkit provides you with the necessary resources and skills that enable you to scale. It means that whenever you need to escalate an issue to a more senior engineer, you are equipped with the required expertise to do so, no matter how large the team or your current recruitment capabilities. The toolkit can also help you onboard new hires quickly, as you have everything you need from day one, as well as any additional required certifications.
4. Shape the Processes, Tools, and Environment
For early startups, scaling is no longer about filling empty roles but about getting things done effectively. Having worked as an engineer at different companies, I can see apparent differences in the process. One company I worked for had just one senior engineer to do the entire day-to-day engineering process. The remaining staff members were often inexperienced or left feeling unsupported. Another company I worked with had two senior engineers working alongside a series of interns. The senior engineers were often more focused on strategic development and other business areas, leaving inexperienced staff in a difficult position. These companies are both companies that more prominent technology players later bought out, so I don’t claim to have the definitive answer.
5. Grow Your Engineering Teams with Care
It takes time, and experience, to build the right engineering team to scale. It’s essential to have a process that is effective in the early stages and then scales up without sudden changes. A report by Business Insider goes as far as to say that 60% of engineering companies were not using an online marketplace to recruit talent. This number could easily be higher. With the job market evolving and attracting quality candidates into the market has become increasingly difficult. Broaden your horizons when it comes to where you recruit from, whether it’s an online marketplace or working with specialist engineering recruitment marketplaces.
Remember that it is all about the people. It’s easier to have a skills tick box, but scaling your engineering team will become an uphill battle if you don’t get the right people and culture fit.