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Restructuring a Team in Order to Allow for Scale

Sarah Ericson

Engineering Manager at Affirm

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Problem

I was working with a team that started fairly small. Over a span of a year our product grew quite quickly which meant bringing on new team members and new ownership for the team. Even with the additional contributors individuals were being spread thin across various projects. This came to a head when, due to our growing business, we had hired three new product managers to work with us which meant we were contributing to three new product roadmaps. It was at this point that I felt like I needed to restructure the team to better align with the product roadmaps and allow individuals more continuity and ownership of the items that they were working on.

Actions taken

I began by working with the product lead. We discussed the different ownership areas within the new organization that we were evolving into and the direction that we saw the product moving towards over the next year or so. Simultaneously, I let individuals on the team know that I was thinking of restructuring to accommodate for our growth.

After several conversations over a few weeks' time, I settled on a new subteam structure where I led two subteams directly under me with tech leads on each of those teams. I defined for the teams their project managers, what they were specifically responsible for owning, and where exactly they fit in with the company goals. Additionally, I maintained a conversation with the team during the process and received feedback from them about the change so that they were involved from beginning to end.

Since making the structural changes we have been able to hire a few more people and take on a few more projects. These are things that would not have been possible had I not addressed the issue early on. Further still, because the team was involved and engaged in the process they felt excited about the shift by the end.

Lessons learned

  • I believe that getting ahead of the problem makes all the difference. Recognizing when there is a problem that prevents feature growth and addressing it as soon as you can.
  • Engage and involve the team early on. By making this change and engaging everybody in the conversation early on, I was able to receive helpful feedback and ensure that the structure was something that everybody bought into. The team played an integral part in the restructuring process.

Be notified about next articles from Sarah Ericson

Sarah Ericson

Engineering Manager at Affirm


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