Scalability: A Million Dollar Question

If you’re anything like my clients, you spend a lot of time trying to do these two things:

  1. Maximize the productivity of your limited staff
  2. Maximize the performance of your software systems

As your business grows, both problems become increasingly difficult — and expensive — to solve.

Right now, I want to address the first point — your team.

Extensive research has shown that productivity drains are a direct result of inefficient processes. Team size does not matter as much as you might think. I’ve seen small teams perform horribly, and big teams move nimbly, all due to their ability to scale up.

So, what makes a team (of any size) scale most efficiently?

The key is to shift focus away from the people and onto the product. I know, this sounds counterintuitive, but stick with me for a minute.

Your product, or more precisely, the code that makes up your software product, can be managed with precision, unlike your people. Focus on motivating your people, not managing them. Ultimately, they will produce more with higher quality. Then, you ship whatever is ready.

Do this early and often. Prioritize instead of planning.

How do I maintain control?

Glad you asked. Here are the ways you still control the process:

  • You own the product backlog, and the prioritization of its items
  • You allocate tasks
  • You set time and budget limits
  • You control the code, feature branches, and acceptance testing
  • You enforce standards

How does this help me scale up?

This process is fast. You release when you’re ready, as often as you’re ready. It also works well with distributed teams. You can add many more contributors without a planning or testing bottleneck.

What do I have to change?

If you’re already a Scrum or Kanban shop, then very little. If your teams are already productive, then they won’t notice much process change. If they are unproductive, then you should give me a call, and we’ll fix that!

In my next article, I will discuss the second point — software performance and scalability.

How I can help you

My mission is to help your company achieve maximum performance through agile development and cloud computing. Whether it’s a culture shift, readying your people and processes for agile, or implementing the tools and technologies to realize DevOps success, we can find opportunities for improvement.


About the Author

Mark Richman is a technology strategy expert, consultant, and advisor to companies who are looking to achieve tactical objectives and strategic goals.

Mark offers a unique combination of deep technical and business expertise, and a strong track record of success. Mark has built, grown, and driven software engineering teams for organizations of all sizes.

Mark is the coauthor of the 2001 book Professional XML Web Services (Wrox Press). He’s a former contributor to XML Journal and Web Services Journal. Mark has been routinely quoted and mentioned in publications like the Palm Beach Post and more.

Mark frequently mentors executive leadership in software engineering concepts and techniques. He is an avid writer and speaker, delivering engaging seminars and webinars on a range of topics. Mark has held key roles in the software engineering industry, spanning development, project management, product management, and marketing. Mark holds a BS in Computer Science and an MBA with a specialization in Technology Management.

Mark can be reached here or at (561) 571–5008.

© 2016 Mark Richman. All Rights Reserved.