Learn how to scale software development teams without common problems and risks.

How to Scale Software Development Teams

The demand for software developers is growing faster than the global labor market supply can keep up. According to McKinsey, over 85% of organizations consistently face a talent shortage. And if your company is gearing up for a large-scale project, team scaling is probably among the crucial preliminary tasks.

It might not seem like a problem, considering there are over 27 million developers available for hire worldwide. Yet it's not all that simple. The common challenge is not just about acquiring the brightest minds that are in the highest demand. Some companies simply don’t know where to start looking and how to recruit efficiently once they hit the team performance bump.

This article provides effective tips to tackle key challenges related to scaling teams in all relevant scenarios.

Number of software developers worldwide in 2018 to 2024

Number of software developers worldwide in 2018 to 2024

Why Do You Need to Scale a Team?

Suppose, after several years of active work, you've solidified your vision for the product and understood how it should look. You've figured out who your customers are, their pains, and problems – essentially, you've found your product/market fit. But inevitably, this has led to a set of challenges, like:

  • The number of projects that are not iterative is growing.
  • There's a need to cut time-to-market.
  • A lack of specific knowledge and skills is felt.
  • The workload is not evenly distributed across the team's resources. Some have too little work, while others are overloaded.
  • Some of your employees are not cross-functional.
  • Much time is spent on fixing errors, small improvements, and feature requests.
  • Development needs are growing, exacerbating the problem of role division.

To address these challenges, you'll need additional personnel. If the company is expanding, increasing the developer team is a must.

Phases of Team Development

Phases of Team Development

Things to consider before team scaling

The process of searching for and hiring new people to scale a software development team can be quite challenging. We recommend leveraging our experience:

Internal team structure shouldn’t limit growth

While the project is only looking to expand, you can use an interchangeable talent approach almost completely risk-free. Each specialist can handle any part of the product, make changes, or test it. You can work based on a hybrid model to have a release cycle, backlog, and a manager assigning tasks.

However, as the team grows, you might need to abandon this model due to several factors:

  • The managerial link becomes a bottleneck.
  • Product requests/wishes from users become more intricate.
  • Client-developer information sharing becomes less efficient.
  • You gradually see how the product will outgrow the current workflow. And as it grows, not everyone will be able to grasp every new aspect of it.

You need a process where a separate team is responsible for one element of the product creation chain. Such a system can be easily scaled and adapted to business needs, with fewer losses and a reduced Time To Market (TTM).

Plan out team expansion and adapt processes

Most likely, to implement a new idea or scale software, you'll need a different technological stack. This needs to be defined. If your in-house team is not sufficient for prototyping, you'll have to hire externally. You should consider different available collaboration models here.

Your codebases might be a challenging task for new developers. Understanding the code without strategic foresight can take a lot of time, contradicting the essence of team scaling. The key to smoother scaling is maintaining the simplicity and clarity of your code. Uphold a coding style agreed upon by your team, ensure code consistency, and maintain logic clarity for easy understanding by any developer.

Break down complex computations into smaller functions. Use the same term consistently in different classes to denote concepts. Prefer descriptive names over mysterious abbreviations. Implementing CI/CD will help automate some processes.

Invest in code reviews and audits. This contributes to improving codebase quality and provides a platform for knowledge exchange. New developers can quickly learn the codebase and coding style. Using documentation tools can simplify their adaptation process.

You'll be delegating responsibilities, so you'll need to take care of communications and reporting to make sure the whole workflow resembles a conveyor without duplicating UI components, etc. You'll need to divide responsibilities, and this is impossible without planning.

Hire specialists who are smarter than you

If you want your brand-new software product to work as intended, you'll need some bright minds. This may be obvious, but the challenge is in finding exactly who you are looking for. Providing specific recommendations in this area is challenging as it's a vast and sensitive topic. But we can confidently say that your project is worthy of only the leading expertise.

Typical software development team structure

Number of software developers worldwide in 2018 to 2024

9 Tips for Successful Team Scaling

Analyze the market and adjust

The pandemic has triggered a shift of specialists online and increased workflow demands. For confident scaling, you need a solid foundation based on a shared understanding of your company's mission, vision, and culture. The scaling strategy should stay in line with your company's development strategy.

Scaling without understanding the underlying reason will lead to wrong decisions. Defining performance indicators will help the team stay in sync. Workflows of all departments, from marketing to production, must be smoothly coordinated. Organize leadership meetings every two years to discuss how the growth plan is being implemented and make necessary adjustments.

Plan out infrastructures and architectures

Managing and maintaining the effective operation of a large team can be a challenging task. Make sure you have all the appropriate infrastructure powers for this. For example, cloud solutions can help improve collaboration and efficiency while reducing overall IT costs.

Sometimes, the product architecture may be incompatible with the chosen development team scaling approach. The question of the relationship between the project structure and the organizational structure is embodied in Conway's empirical law. The company's structure is reflected in its product architecture. For complex projects, some planning is necessary. If the infrastructure can't handle new features, hiring a software architect is crucial.

Create a consistent roadmap

Create a consistent roadmap

The software architecture plan should begin with an understanding of where the company is heading, what goals it wants to achieve, what means it will use, and how much it is willing to spend.

The key to improving the workflow lies in documentation. Alongside the standard one, we recommend also documenting compliance with deadlines and strategic planning of stages. Reviewing and changing priorities should be included in the schedule and deadlines.

Develop a comprehensive business roadmap for several years ahead, but keep in mind that it's a guiding tool, not a rigid foundation. It shouldn't be too detailed but should sufficiently reflect the company's strategic direction and be flexible and open to adaptation and innovation. A good roadmap allows your team to effectively respond to any unforeseen challenges.

Optimize your hiring tactics

You should follow certain consistent principles:

  • Describe job details, emphasizing what the existing staff lacks.
  • Be cautious with employee recommendations.
  • During the trial period, inquire about candidates soft skills, personality, and character, as well as their performance.

Rushed, overly rapid scaling can negatively impact the morale of existing employees. Consider the human factor. Look for people who share the values and culture of your company, even if you choose to hire a software development company instead of scaling your in-house team.

Proper team distribution

Scaling will inevitably change your company's structure. Smaller units are easier to manage. Practice shows that the ideal team size is 7–10 people. If it's larger, divide it into smaller groups. Remember the "two-pizza rule."

This will help you achieve successful software scaling because you can involve more people and resources in the project without creating a bottleneck. You'll be able to use a broader range of knowledge and diverse perspectives, crucial for making innovative decisions.

On top of that, distributed teams should be flexible in terms of location and schedule. Properly distributing employees based on time zones can facilitate talent search and retention and speed up the development process as the team can work around the clock.

Keep employee priorities straight

You should also make sure everyone in the new team understands their roles and responsibilities and can perform adjacent tasks. Property rights must all be considered. Prepare leaders capable of helping you manage the scalable team structure.

Proper role distribution and definition of responsibilities will certainly help boost overall team productivity.

Focus on agility

Adaptability is key to flexible software delivery. While each participant plays a specific role, agile teams are cross-functional and share responsibility for each project implementation. So before scaling, evaluate each member of the development team's ability to self-organize.

They should work on features that bring the most value. A flexible approach will allow optimizing product release by gradually completing work within established estimates.

Do project management right

A planned approach is necessary for large projects or complex tasks that should be divided into small parts. For effective software scaling, teams need to be formed not based on a technological stack but on a specific product or function/feature/platform paradigm. For example, the server side of the application must be covered by specific pros. In the face of changing requirements, dedicated teams that are balanced, accountable, and flexible are the best choice.

For task management, short sprints ensure rapid response and continuous progress. Tasks should be distributed based on the team's experience and capabilities. Effective reporting software should also be used for management.

Calculate your budget

You must know what you can afford to spend and where every penny is going. This prevents overspending, helps achieve financial goals, and simplifies identifying areas for cost savings. Start with an assessment of fixed costs, such as salaries, taxes, electricity, stationery, etc.

Then estimate how much will be needed for efforts related to team expansion, including one-time expenses. Allow for contingencies. Finally, compare the total budget amount with the projected income for the year to make sure you don't spend more than you earn. A well-crafted budget helps overcome potential unwelcome surprises.

Rules for Integrating an Extended Team

An extended team of software developers can be easily integrated with your company infrastructure by following a few simple rules.

Establish several communication channels

Clear and direct communication should be maintained at all times, from the adaptation period of developers to their assuming specific roles, This helps them understand your business, team, and code more quickly and effectively. Encourage open lines of communication to promote a better grasp of your business, team dynamics, and codebase.

Encourage close collaboration

Effective cooperation is built on trust and mutual understanding. When bringing new specialists into the team, establish business relationships with them based on these principles. The closer and more long-term the partnership, the greater the chance of uncovering your company's real needs and issues and, consequently, finding solutions. This helps avoid disappointments and minimizes discomfort in daily work.

Work on mistakes

No one is perfect, and your team may seem less effective initially. Your task is to create conditions that allow your new employees to showcase their best without harming their self-esteem. If they make mistakes, provide them with an ethical and supportive path to problem resolution. Allow the team to participate in making important decisions, regularly utilize feedback, and conduct brainstorming sessions to eliminate future mistakes

Practice inclusivity

The arrival of new team members often comes with misunderstandings and even mistrust. You must overcome cultural, language, and technological barriers to unite them into a team that consistently works on your project. Create conditions where every member of the extended team feels comfortable.

Partner up with an IT staffing provider

You should be able to hire new developers quickly and securely. This can be achieved faster with a reliable partner with proven team scaling experience. Find such a partner, carefully craft job descriptions, settle on an optimal collaboration algorithm, and you will achieve the expected results.


Scaling is a complex process closely linked to the growth and success of your company. It reflects how well-structured your company is and reveals issues that may go unnoticed when you manage only a small number of employees.

For smooth team scaling, you need to create a strong foundation with a clear mission, vision, and culture. Utilize effective project and product development processes, as well as a technically scalable infrastructure. By following our advice, you can achieve your goals without going far or going broke.

If you are looking for fast and cost-effective ways to expand your team of developers, we are happy to help. Contact us, share your challenges, outline your requirements, and we will provide you with the ideal team for your project.

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