Building a Core Team for Scalable Product Growth



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Product teams frequently dedicate considerable effort to determining their investment for a new project; however, they sometimes neglect the crucial task of assembling a core team capable of scaling with the product’s growth. Similar to budgeting for a software launch, strategic hiring plays a pivotal role in long-term success. Just as you wouldn’t exhaust all resources on an initial product iteration, building a full team from the outset isn’t always the best approach. 

The key roles for a product team often depend on the budget and size of the project. To be clear, there isn’t one single definition for these roles, and you may see them used in different ways. They may be two separate roles, or one person may be responsible for the work of both titles. From our experience, product managers and product owners emerge as pivotal figures early in the process. While one individual may handle both roles in smaller teams, finding someone adept at both strategic planning and tactical execution can be a challenge. 

Product Manager

The product manager serves as the visionary leader for the product’s overall success. With a strategic focus, they align the product with the company’s objectives and market needs. They ask critical questions like, “Where does this product fit within our organization’s goals?” and “What defines success for our business?” Additionally, they evaluate whether the product enhances the user experience quantifiably.

The product manager guides the success of a product and leads the cross-functional team that is responsible for improving it. They articulate the purpose, scope and timing of the product, providing the blueprint for the engineering team’s efforts. Essentially, they own the product’s vision, continuously identifying the necessary steps to bring it to market successfully. In crafting a roadmap, the product manager prioritizes activities and establishes delivery timelines. Subsequently, the product owner collaborates with the engineering team to ensure alignment with the envisioned user experience.

Product Owner

Product owners operate on a more tactical level within the product team. Their role involves translating the strategic vision set by the product manager into tangible, actionable tasks. They collaborate closely with the team to ensure precise execution of these requirements. This involves making priority decisions guided by the product roadmap and detailed requirements.

In addition to their primary responsibilities, product owners may take on various other roles within the team structure. These roles could encompass a combination of project management, technical leadership, UI/UX design, engineering, business analysis and quality assurance testing.

Estimating the Cost of Your Core Team

Estimating the cost of the core team goes hand in hand with product testing and result analysis. Each potential team size can be assessed for its operating expenses per sprint. It’s advisable to start modestly, committing to a few sprints, and then hosting demos. This approach facilitates learning about the essential features to develop, allowing you to reassess the team composition and who you need going forward.

Initiating development early is paramount. Throughout this phase, cultivate a shared understanding of the problem areas, desired business outcomes and metrics for evaluation. These considerations help streamline the focus towards crafting a product that resonates with end-users, consequently shaping its size and scope. With this foundation, the team can gradually expand over time.

Building the Full Team Over Time

When assembling a full team, start by aligning your product roadmap with the highest-level business capabilities. This alignment ensures that every team member understands the overarching vision and strategic direction of the project. A roadmap serves as a dynamic visualization of your strategic plan, shaped by vision and strategy. It will evolve over time. Operating in six-week release cycles, begin by delineating specific goals for the immediate 6-12 weeks, while retaining overarching themes for subsequent periods.

As the roadmap evolves over time, the team’s composition may need to adapt accordingly. By operating in iterative cycles, you can strategically allocate resources towards hiring team members as the product progresses. This iterative approach allows for flexibility in team expansion, enabling you to allocate budget towards hiring additional expertise or scaling existing roles based on the evolving needs of the project. By investing in the team incrementally as the product iterates, you can ensure that resources are allocated efficiently and effectively to support the project’s growth and success.

For instance, you may opt to dedicate Q2 to mobility. The rationale behind setting broader goals when communicating with stakeholders is rooted in the dynamic nature of software, as it undergoes frequent changes. The aim is to generate excitement while avoiding overly restrictive plans that might lead to unmet expectations. As the project progresses and the need for specialized expertise arises, allocating resources towards hiring team members dedicated to enhancing mobility features can ensure smoother execution and alignment with evolving project goals. Aligning your goals and decisions enables you to substantiate your spending and track success more effectively.

If your team is struggling to manage your software project effectively, contact Augusto. We specialize in offering realistic estimations for the size and composition of your team, and we’re equipped to provide fractional support as you assemble your team.

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