500 Developers – A Savvy Way to Scale Your Engineering Team

On many tech business leaders’ minds is the question, “If we land these two customers at the same time, or if we acquire larger customers, how do we scale?”  And the two biggest challenges are (a) finding the talent on-time, and (b) managing the budget.

I’ve seen a trend lately among some savvy tech CEOs and recent clients of TeamFound that I thought you’d appreciate. Because I’m from Vermont and it’s maple tapping season, I’ll call it “Tapping 500 Developers.” It’s simple but powerful. Here’s the idea:

Engage with a software outsourcing company that specializes in providing dedicated remote engineering teams, to work with your internal team. Start with a small team. Key is that the remote developers be just as talented as your internal developers. Make sure the provider has a few hundred on staff.

“Wait!” you say. “Outsourcing? I thought that didn’t work.” – That’s what a super smart tech executive said to me 3 years ago, and today he has a team of 15 remote developers. When it’s done with careful provider selection and good internal processes, it can work extraordinarily well. Here’s what this will do for you:

ONE: You found a talent outlet
Once you establish a relationship with a provider, and you on-board a small team, a “tap” is created. It wouldn’t take much to add more capacity to fulfill the demands of that largest customer. You don’t have to start the whole process over again. Your work is leveraged.  The provider is responsible for managing the team, and scaling the team when you say “go”.

TWO: You gained speed
You picked a provider in a region with a large talent pool, and who has a prominent position in the marketplace. They can fill a new opening in 1 month, or less if one of their 500 comes off a project. Try that in your local market.

Only one more, because I know how busy you are…

THREE: You found a way to reduce your budget risk
Scale the team up for 6 months, or a year. Then scale it down if you need to. The software engineering provider is good with it – that’s what they’re there for. The developers move onto a different project. You can enjoy your Sunday morning pancakes with maple syrup a lot more, because you know that on Monday you can push the lever up or pull it down – that’s more control over your budget.

A remote team is about leverage, an assurance that you can tap into some serious capacity when you needed it, and about gaining budget flexibility. That’s why most of my clients are CEOs and CTOs.

It turns out that smart developers love to work with other smart developers, and when you can tap into some real talent, your internal team will appreciate the help and enjoy the new relationships!

If you have any friends who can use this message, please pass this along.

There’s a lot of myth around “outsourcing”. But if you look beyond this old word, and see the innovation that’s happening today in some of its successful derivatives, like remote engineering teams, you could open the talent valve, and gain real leverage that your competition doesn’t have.

[Ron Herman is an engineering management consultant, who specializes in making remote teams successful for technology businesses, the first time!]