There comes a time in every business’s life… when it’s time to scale. Scaling any company is no joke, but there are a few additional things to consider when scaling a software development firm.
As a software development firm ourselves, here are a few of the things we’ve learned along the way that could help you and your business succeed.
How to Properly Scale Your Software Development Company
Since software development is largely skill and knowledge oriented, your team members and your company’s knowledge base need to scale accordingly. As you grow, it’s expected that your clientele pool will also grow, meaning the needs and technology needed will start to vary.
It’s common to focus on one or two languages, application types, or technology as a small software development company. However, to scale successfully, a variety of different languages, frameworks, other technologies, and capabilities are necessary.
Implementing Scrum Practices
Software is often complicated and multi-faceted. Multiple teams need to work harmoniously together to successfully develop and deploy a client software application.
Implementing Scrum is a popular form of software project management. It’s a lightweight structure for iterative development. At Nexrage Studios we utilize Scrum sprints for many of our software development projects. We picked the scrum methodology due to it being quick and versatile, to match our clients’ requirements. To learn more about other software development methodologies and find the one that fits best with your business and clients, click here.
Our agenda for our daily Scrum meetings is: What did I finish yesterday? What am I working on today? What will I have done for tomorrow? Do I have any Blockers?
Short, simple, and to the point. It’s a great way for teams to reconvene and get caught up.
The best way to start transitioning teams towards more structured projects is to start with small teams and parts of the company, gradually expanding those utilizing the new structure and methodology. Change is hard, and a lot of people don’t like it. Any amount of change can be hard, so remember to be patient, and understanding with your team.
There are many Scrum trainings and courses online to assist team leaders and managers in the transition and execution of this new development style. One excellent resource is Scrum Alliance.
Properly implementing Scrum or any other software project management methodology will reap a ton of benefits. Implementing additional supportive technology will only amplify the benefits.
With your team utilizing Scrum properly, delivery will be faster, the software will be more reliable, collaboration should be streamlined, and the overall cost through automation could be reduced as well!
Other supportive technologies that can help to streamline your business scaling are:
Project Management Software
Communication and Collaboration Tools
Customer Relationship Management
Project Management Software is vital to software development, really for any type of technical or large-scale project. There are many different types of project management tools. Previously our company was using Monday, but has since transitioned to Trello, while also utilizing Jira. The project management tool that works best for you and your team might be different from ours.
Another popular project management tool is Azure DevOps server (previously Azure TFS). Which can integrate with GitHub.
Communication and Collaboration tools are obviously necessary. Whether it’s for documentation, general communication about projects, light-hearted hijinks, or clarity, these tools are essential for every business.
Communicating via Slack, for instance, creates a record of conversations, as well as elevates the company culture. Different Slack channels can be used as hubs of culture or entertainment-driven conversations. We have Slack channels for everything from the Pets of Nexrage to Movies, Memes, and even food! We also have Slack channels for project-specific communication, Front-end, Back-end, website, game team, marketing, etc. Our company thrives on Slack.
We recently transitioned to Google Workspace as well, so our team can collaborate on shared drives, spaces, and documents.
All of these tools have one thing in common. They make the lives of our team easier. More efficient. More productive. More clear.
Customer Relationship Management Tools are specifically for maintaining the relationship your company and team has with customers. Whether it be eCommerce, Software clients, or even Real Estate. Tracking and maintaining your relationship with clients and customers is a vital part of every company. A few standard CRM software tools are HubSpot, SalesForce, Microsoft Dynamics, and Zoho.
Picking the right CRM for your business comes down to what you’re using it for and what you aim to get out of it. What’s your budget, the size of your company, and what integrations are you looking for? With the right tools in place, software development companies can scale their operations and reach new heights. However, it's important to set clear goals and avoid making common scaling mistakes.
Any project or even person has goals. So why shouldn’t your business? Creating an outline for how your business scales and the strategy behind it is imperative to your business successfully scaling.
Since there are so many facets of a software company, there are many facets of your business that need to scale. Simultaneously and cohesively.
Your servers need to scale. Your team and skillset need to scale. Your tools and technology need to scale. Your office needs to scale. Your onboarding and HR departments need to scale. And your sales need to scale.
As you grow, each of these different verticals within your organization will need to grow at the right pace. One cannot outpace the other.
To accomplish successful scaling, your Admin team will need to collaborate with leaders from each of these departments in order to grow together effectively.
Common Scaling Pitfalls
Growing too Quickly
Much like Icarus, who recklessly flew too close to the sun, your business can suffer from the same thing. Too much ambition without the proper strategy or infrastructure can create cracks and cause irreparable damage. Everyone wants their company to grow, it’s a no-brainer. The bigger the business, the more success you face, and the bigger the fall if the correct steps aren’t taken. Some of the other problems you could face as your business grows exponentially are customer experience issues, as well as team and culture issues.
It becomes increasingly difficult to gauge the personality of each hire to ensure they’re the right fit for your existing culture. Hiring new team members who don’t fit well with your team can cause tension and frustration in your current team.
Frustrations in your existing team will inevitably lead to customer experience issues. Even if your team is broadcasting frustrations, humans are empathetic creatures, and customers will mostly be able to tell. Frustrations also lead to short fuses, tempers, and irritability which can seep into customer-facing interactions.
Lack of Infrastructure
When you're scaling your software business, it's important to invest in the right infrastructure to support your growth. This includes things like servers, storage, networking, and security. If you don't invest in the right infrastructure, you're likely to experience performance problems and outages.
Here are some of the specific infrastructure issues that can arise when scaling a software business:
Server capacity: As your business grows, you'll need to add more servers to handle the increased demand. If you don't add enough servers, you'll experience performance problems, such as slow page load times and errors.
Storage capacity: As your business grows, you'll need to add more storage space to store your data. If you don't add enough storage space, you'll run out of space and your applications will start to fail.
Networking bandwidth: As your business grows, you'll need to add more networking bandwidth to handle the increased traffic. If you don't add enough networking bandwidth, your applications will start to slow down and your users will experience poor performance.
Security: As your business grows, you'll need to implement stronger security measures to protect your data from unauthorized access. If you don't implement strong security measures, you could be vulnerable to cyberattacks that could damage your business.
In addition to these specific infrastructure issues, some general infrastructure challenges can arise when scaling a software business. These challenges include:
Complexity: As your infrastructure grows in size and complexity, it becomes more difficult to manage and maintain. This can lead to errors and downtime.
Cost: Infrastructure can be expensive, especially as your business grows. This can put a strain on your budget and make it difficult to scale your business.
Time to market: It can take time to procure, deploy, and configure new infrastructure. This can delay your scaling efforts and make it difficult to keep up with demand.
I’d also include office workspace in this infrastructure section. Growing, scaling, and building your business can lead to overcrowding of your office space. Be prepared to expand or size up your business and adapt to what your team needs. That may mean switching to a remote or hybrid business model.
Poor communication is one of the biggest downfalls or pitfalls that companies face when scaling. As a business grows, it becomes more and more important to have clear and effective communication between all levels of the organization. However, this can be difficult to achieve, especially when the company is growing quickly.
Misunderstandings can occur between team members, departments, and even customers. This can lead to mistakes, delays, and even conflict.
Loss of productivity can happen when team members are not clear on their roles and responsibilities. This is because team members may be duplicating efforts or working on tasks that are not aligned with the company's goals.
Decision-making problems can arise when team members are not aligned on the same information. This can make it difficult to make informed decisions that are in the best interests of the company.
Low employee morale can occur when employees feel like they are not being kept in the loop or that their opinions are not valued. This can lead to frustration and disengagement.
Weak Leadership and Management
As a business grows, it becomes more and more important to have strong leadership and management in place. However, this can be difficult to achieve, especially when the company is growing quickly.
Lack of direction: When there is weak management, it can lead to a lack of direction for the company. This can cause confusion and uncertainty among employees, which can lead to decreased productivity and morale.
Poor decision-making: Weak managers may make poor decisions that can damage the company. This can lead to financial losses, lost customers, and even lawsuits.
Lack of Self-Care: Not taking care of your own burnout. This can include taking on too many tasks, staying up late, not eating right, not prioritizing correctly, or no work-life balance. Continuous unhealthy habits in and out of work will not only be detrimental to yourself but also to your team.
Employee turnover: Weak managers can create a toxic work environment that leads to employee turnover. This can be costly and disruptive to the company.
Legal problems: Weak managers may not be able to comply with regulations or avoid making mistakes that could lead to legal problems. This can be costly and damaging to the company.
*Common traits of weak leaders and management are; indecision, lack of communication, disorganization, being too busy to actually manage the team, and not taking the time to sit down and communicate and gather feedback. *
If one or more of these traits sound like you, it might be time to reevaluate your leadership style. There are plenty of courses and trainings on leadership out there to help elevate your management style.
How to Avoid Common Scaling Pitfalls
Strong Team & Talent Management
Hire the right people: When you're scaling your business, it's important to hire the right people for management positions. Look for people with strong leadership skills, experience, and a track record of success.
Provide training and development: Make sure that your management team has the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. Provide them with training and development opportunities so they can continue to learn and grow.
Create a culture of accountability: Create a culture of accountability in your company where managers are held responsible for their decisions and actions. This will help to ensure that they make good decisions and avoid making mistakes.
Empower your managers: Give your managers the authority they need to make decisions and take action. This will help them to be more effective and productive.
Provide regular feedback: Provide your managers with regular feedback so they can track their progress and make necessary adjustments. This will help them to improve their performance and avoid making mistakes.
Fire fast: It can help them to avoid the costs of carrying underperforming employees. When a company fires an underperforming employee, it sends a message to the remaining employees that the company is serious about performance and that it is not afraid to make tough decisions.
Proper Communication & Infrastructure
To side-step potential pitfalls regarding communication and infrastructure, it is best practice to set expectations at the beginning of employment. Create a culture of communication where team members feel comfortable speaking up and asking questions. Prioritize communication and make sure it is a priority, especially when the company is going through a period of growth.
This will help you identify areas where you can improve and make sure that your communication is effective. Using the right tools to facilitate communication, such as project management software, chat tools, and video conferencing, can help measure what’s working and what’s not.
The ability to adapt, to change is essential for any business that wants to be successful. As the world around us changes, businesses need to be able to change with it. This can be a challenge, but it is essential for survival.
There are several things that businesses can do to help them adapt to change. One important step is to create a culture of innovation. This means encouraging employees to come up with new ideas and solutions to problems. It also means being willing to experiment and take risks.
Another important step is to be flexible. Businesses need to be willing to change their plans as needed. This means being able to adapt to new technologies, new market conditions, and new customer demands.
Businesses also need to listen to their customers. What do they want? What are their needs? By understanding what customers want, businesses can make sure that they are providing the products and services that customers need.
Finally, businesses need to stay up-to-date on industry trends. What are the latest technologies? What are the latest trends in customer behavior? By staying up-to-date, businesses can make sure that they are not falling behind.
Research. Research. Research.
When scaling your business, it is important to do your research. This means understanding the market, your target audience, and your competition. It also means understanding the challenges that you will face as you scale. By doing your research, you can make informed decisions that will help you to scale your business successfully.
What is the size of the market for your product or service?
Who are your target customers?
What are their needs and wants? Your target audience
Who are your ideal customers?
What are their demographics?
What are their pain points? Your competition
Who are your competitors?
What are their strengths and weaknesses?
What are their strategies? The challenges of scaling
What are the specific challenges that you will face as you scale your business?
How can you mitigate these challenges?
Know When to Ask for Help
Scaling a business can be a daunting task. It is important to know when to ask for help. This may involve hiring consultants, advisors, or experts who can help you with specific aspects of scaling your business. it is also important to vet your selected advisors, make sure their vision aligns with yours, and that they have the expertise you require, etc.
If you are:
Not sure what to do next.
Not seeing the results you want.
It might be time to ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help, and it can be the difference between success and failure.
Don’t be afraid to Fail
Failure is a part of scaling a business. It is important to learn from your mistakes and move on. If you are afraid to fail, you will never be able to scale your business to its full potential.
Don't take it personally. Failure is not a reflection of your worth as a person or as a business owner. It is simply a part of the process.
Learn from your mistakes. Figure out what went wrong and make changes so that you don't make the same mistake again.
Don't give up. Failure is only the end if you give up. Keep learning, keep growing, and keep pushing forward.
In conclusion, there are many pitfalls that companies face when scaling. These pitfalls can be avoided by careful planning and execution. By understanding the specific problems that can arise from poor communication, weak management, and the inability to adapt; companies can take steps to mitigate these risks and ensure that they can scale successfully.