How To Scale Application Development Teams Successfully?

By 2025, there will be 7.49 billion mobile users across the world. 

The sheet number of mobile users hints towards the need for more and more mobile apps. And if you are in the business of developing mobile apps, today might be the right time to think about expanding so that you can meet the needs of your customers in the future.

But scaling is not as simple as just hiring a bunch of new people. Especially not when you are scaling a highly technical team for app development

Here’s a short, yet handy guide to help CTOs and hiring managers to streamline the app development team scaling process.

Is it the right time to scale?

“Observe due measure, for the right timing, is in all things the most important factor.”

– Hesiod, ‘Works and Days’, 700 BC.

It is important for CTOs and hiring managers to find the right time for scaling their app dev teams. 

Scale too soon and you’ll bear the financial brunt of paying employees who aren’t raking in revenues for you.

Scale too late and you’d have already lost a lot of opportunities. 

What’s the best time to scale an app development team?

The best time to scale an application development team cannot be defined in terms of X years after establishment. Instead, you’ll know it is the right time when you see one (or more) of the following signs.

  • Your marketing efforts bring in more projects than your front-end designers, backend developers, QA analysts, and project managers can handle.
  • You feel your team lacks certain expertise. For example, if you keep getting a lot of projects that require the use of Angular, but you don’t yet have an expert in that framework, scale your team and hire angular developers.
  • Your current team is struggling with longer sprints and is failing to achieve app launch timelines as they are overworked.
  • Negative reviews for your team from the client-side. This could either mean you need more people to get the job done right or the right people. In both cases, you’d have to don the hiring hat and expand your team.
  • Company stakeholders have set targets that your current app development team won’t be able to achieve.
  • You want to expand to new markets or target a diverse set of audiences.

The next step to take is to find out how you can scale successfully.

4 ways to scale application development teams

Mobile app development teams usually include

  • UI/UX designers,
  • Java, Kotlin, Objective-C, Swift, React Native, Flutter, and other technology developers,  
  • Database designers and developers,
  • Quality Assurance specialists, testers,
  • Project coordinators.

Now, scaling can mean different things for differing organizations. For some, it might mean hiring more experts. For others, it could mean onboarding experts from different technologies. 

No matter how you want to scale, there are 4 basic ways to do that. Let’s check them out. 

  • In-house expansion 

The basic way to expand your team is to hire new people on your payroll. That’s called in-house expansion. 

To expand your team in-house, you’ll have to:

  • Post job openings and invite resumes
  • Sort through the applications and schedule interviews with suitable candidates
  • Conduct technical, behavioural, and aptitude tests
  • Carry out background and reference checks
  • Offer jobs to selected candidates
  • Negotiate and decide terms of employment with them
  • Offer introductory training/orientation

The costs of expanding your team via in-house expansion thus include not just the CTAs of the experts but also several hiring expenses. The process is long and a burden on your Human Resources department. 

  • Outsourcing/White Labeling 

If you need to scale your app development team within a very short span of time or only for a certain project, outsourcing or white labeling is a suitable way. 

Outsourcing refers to hiring another organization for serving your clients. Let’s understand this with an example. 

Suppose you have to immediately start working on an Android app development project. Now you might not have Kotlin experts on your team. Instead of hiring a Kotlin developer, you decide to contact another mobile app development company that has Kotlin developers on board. This other company will then work on your client’s project and deliver results.

Such an arrangement is called outsourcing. Now if your client is not told that you outsourced the task and you present the other company’s work as your own, it is called white labeling.

You basically scale by getting an extension to your internal tech team. All you have to do is find the right outsourcing/white labeling partner. 

The benefit of such an arrangement is that it is faster and more efficient. Plus, you are saved from having to manage more employees and a wider app development team. 

  • Onboarding remote talent

Working with outsourcing/white label partners might be risky. It can lead to client poaching and their mistakes might tarnish your image too. Onboarding remote talent, however, is a sweet spot that sits somewhere between in-house and outsourced scaling. You get the best of both worlds without the negatives of either. 

There are lots of talent connect platforms that can help you hire top remote talent from halfway across the globe within 48 – 72 hours. 

  • You don’t have to pay any platform fee or commission.
  • You get access to a wide talent pool.
  • Hiring expenses, efforts, and time are saved. 
  • Remote employees automatically mean lesser overheads. 
  • The model is flexible, thus, you can quickly scale up (and even down) as per the market and your company’s current situation. 
  • Finding freelancers

While scaling is a long-term step, sometimes you might just need a few extra hands for a certain project. 

For example, consider you get an app development project that requires knowledge of artificial intelligence. You know that it is a one-off situation and hiring an AI expert full-time won’t be worth it. In such situations, you can look for freelancers to temporarily scale your app development team. 

You can visit online freelance marketplaces and find the right freelancer. The cost of scaling this way is less but finding the right freelancer might be tougher than it seems. Also, the stability of such an arrangement is always questionable.  

Expert tips for scaling app development teams

Mistakes are a routine part of any business process. You make mistakes, learn, and grow. 

But by learning from others’ experiences, you can avoid some costly mistakes. And here are some tips that will come in handy while scaling app development teams. 

  • Calculate the right number of people to be hired. How to do that? Count the tasks and subtasks that you need additional manpower for and then check how many people (with what expertise) you need for performing those tasks.
  • Rethink your communication channels. When your team grows, communication lines become longer and more complicated. Some people might also get left out. And the coordination between technical and customer-facing teams dwindles. Make sure you rethink and re-design the company communication channels.
  • Unless you are looking at scaling your team in-house, you will also have to consider remote team management. Freelancers, outsourcing partners, and remote workers need to be integrated with your core app development team so that communication and coordination remain intact. 
  • Adjust your SMART goals. When you scale up, your business goals and the related KPIs for measuring goal achievement should also be adjusted. 
  • Ensure access to the required tools and technology. When your team grows, they will need more tech tools and access to different technologies to function optimally. Make sure you budget and arrange for tech scaling while scaling your app development team.

With that, we have come to the end of our guide. What remains to be done now is for you to take the first step. Outline your application development team’s scaling needs and hire away.