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Scaling an Engineering Team

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Tips and tricks to stay fit when scaling an Engineering Team: hiring, culture, management, technical practices...
How to avoid the growth issues.

Published in: Leadership & Management
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Scaling an Engineering Team

  1. 1. Scaling an Engineering Team
  2. 2. Want to scale?  So you have a successful Company / Startup.  Business is rocketing…  …and Engineering cannot follow the speed of Business.  You need to scale! 2
  3. 3. Beware of growing too fast  More bureaucracy  Less productivity  Worse product because of bad communication  Breaking the culture  Cost and complexity …tips and tricks to stay fit! 3
  4. 4. Hiring  Build a strong Hiring pipeline  Formalize the process. Share and involve the whole team.  Empower the Hiring Managers. They are accountable for hiring.  Professionalize hiring: use tools to support it (ATS like Greenhouse)  Understand your current salary bands. Define appropriate hiring bands (also based on market).  Be visible on the market and in tech community (blog, meetups, conferences, open-source software).  Measure it and optimize it like a Sales/Marketing funnel  Top of funnel = sourcing  Conversion rate at each step  Closing the deal  Formalize and be disciplined about on-boarding new hires. 4
  5. 5. Growing the people  Scaling a team is also about growing the people.  Make sure every individual knows what it means for them when the team gets bigger:  role, career evolution, opportunities of growth…  Especially if you hire senior people who will come in to manage the existing teams  Set up a culture of Continuous Learning 5
  6. 6. Management  Managers in Engineering teams are usually ex-Developers and are not necessarily trained to manage.  Explicitely train them towards management.  Delegation: it is usually difficult for an ex-developer to release control on some important pieces of code.  Time organization: it is very hard for a developer to start mixing his time with management tasks  Differentiate Management and Leadership: Tech Lead is not People Management.  Invest into improving and scaling your management practices.  Put a special focus on practices that facilitate on-boarding and maintain consistency:  Knowing each other (try tools like Personal Maps)  Team Culture (see next slide)  Team Building  1:1  Management by Walking Around 6
  7. 7. Culture  Adding new members to a team can break the spirit of the team.  How do you define your team culture? What are your values?  Define your culture and values together as a team to use it as a hiring filter.  Test for culture fit (which is not incompatible with diversity).  It is also a good opportunity to define team ambitions.  Are your teams happy? Harder to evaluate when you scale, so pay attention to it. 7
  8. 8. Team Structure  Split the teams: teams of small teams.  But figure out how to manage dependencies and align teams.  Define the team type that suits your context:  Feature teams  Platform teams  Hybrid teams  Avoid 100% component teams.  Visualize dependencies: avoid coupled teams.  Guidelines:  3 to 9 members in a team  Stable(ish), full-time, colocated  With a mission  Clear stakeholders/customers  Cross-functional  Autonomous 8
  9. 9. Technical practices  A team cannot scale efficiently without strong technical practices.  Think automation and industrialization.  Think quality.  Think autonomy and responsibility.  How do you ensure that when going from a small team to a bigger team you keep the same level of quality, of speed and reliability.  Must haves:  Continuous integration  Systematic code review  Automated tests (unit tests, functional tests,…)  Automated Build & Deploy mechanisms  Start reducing your Technical Debt  … 9
  10. 10. Project Management  In an Agile environment, make sure you have good agile basics and team structure before scaling.  You need efficient tools (and know how to use them collaboratively). Minimum would be things like Jira+Confluence, or anything similar.  Documentation: organize your documentation so it can be used easily by newcomers – reduce your Documentation debt.  When scaling Agile teams, you risk creating silos.  Add a Portfolio vision on top of your Agile teams to keep a high-level company view and proper prioritization and cross-dependencies management.  Rethink how you slice projects  Scaling needs to happen at Enterprise level  Stop Starting. Start Finishing. 10
  11. 11. Communication  Enforce cross-team communications.  Scale the Feedback Loop  For instance a monthly team meeting where all the teams share their accomplishments and plans.  Shared Roadmap reviews  Multi-teams retrospectives  Also build opportunities for communication, by mix-and- matching people from different teams:  Shared tech projects  Shared team initiatives (organization, management, team life…)  Organize regular team buildings and team life events so that people socialize together: games (Lego4scrum, Marshmallow challenges,…), meals (team breakfasts, drinks,…) 11
  12. 12. Questions 12
  13. 13. References  http://blog.crisp.se/2015/11/23/henrikkniberg/real-life- agile-scaling-agile-keynote  http://ethikonsulting.com/management-game/  https://management30.com/product/workouts/  http://blog.crisp.se/2013/03/14/henrikkniberg/stop- starting-start-finishing-my-slides-on-how-to-improve- your-life  http://fr.slideshare.net/betclicTech/betclic-training- continuouslearning 13
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