Maintaining Productivity as a Quickly-Scaling Team
26 April, 2021
Director of Engineering at PicsArt
When first joining my current company, the start-up was very small — only five or six people. Now, we are a team of four hundred, an endeavor that took place over ten years. During this time, we have overcome many challenges in relation to scaling up so quickly. Even after dividing ourselves by platform, we found that the work called for more specialized teams, each devoted to a single feature.
As we introduced each new department, I would step in as a team-focused tech lead before moving on to build the next group. We now have a Division unit, a features-based unit, and platform-related teams that work to improve the health of the company overall, as well as to optimize developer productivity. All of these groups contain sub-units under their umbrellas.
During this time, one of my main challenges was maintaining the productivity of our developers and to continue to realize the goals of the company as the organization took on volume.
I led an effort called “Developer Experience”; this is the Division unit mentioned previously. It consists of two sub-teams: one handles performance, the health of the application as it exists for the user, and the other focuses on developer productivity specifically by developing reusable components. While developing each team’s strategy personally was a challenge that I enjoyed, being able to delegate in this way allowed me to manage many people at once.
After I had been with the the DevXP department for an entire year, we were introducing new features and tools constantly. Each new team had a dedicated EM, and each department now had its own engineering manager tasked with creating processes and best practices for the work of their teams specifically. I had never led such a huge organization before, but finally felt that I was able to match our pace of growth comfortably.
- You should never wait for somebody to teach you something or to show you the way. You need to research the challenge and to learn on your own. I learned to act and to avoid waiting. This gives life to all of my ideas.
- Do not shy away from any process that may solve the problem that you are facing, even if new and unfamiliar.
- Do not fear failure in your career. Every misstep teaches us something important. As long as we do not repeat our mistakes, there is no reason to avoid ambitions that scare us.
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