When your company began, a structured hierarchy likely wasn’t required. While there may have been one person who controlled the direction and communication between members of the team, the overall operation was more likely based on that of a group of people all working together to get the job done.

As you grow your company however, the organization of the team, understanding who will do what, and where the responsibility for various functions resides, becomes important to ensuring clarity and success. It is also important to understand who on the team serves which function, so if you aren’t seeing the results you want, you will better understand which part of the team may need to be boosted or given more focus.

How do you know it’s time to grow?

If you’re not sure whether your existing set-up is still effective, if you are unsure whether you’re ready for growth and perhaps a more structured environment, consider a few essential questions. Is your company only doing support work rather than building new features? Is the lack of resources a reason behind maintaining, rather than growing your company? Is one person wearing too many unrelated hats?  If you are not spending at least half of your time developing new features, are lacking market appeal for your product, or are struggling technically to develop a product to fit, these can also indicate that your team should be growing or that a different organization or structure is required.

The question of people wearing many hats can be tough because, of course, when you started the company, wearing many different hats was the name of the game. It was how you got off the ground and how you stayed lean and efficient. As you grow and build a team though, it is important to separate out the functions more, perhaps combining those that make sense but dividing others according to purpose.

In a smaller company, for instance, it may still make sense as the team evolves to have the founder continue to handle both marketing and sales, or to have one person wearing these similar and related hats. 

Which part of the team do we grow first?

How you grow your team and where you decide to invest first depends on the need. And remember, these need not be full-time roles. Even technical team is not able to meet the feature demands, then it makes sense to add technical capability. If your return on investment (ROI) is not great, it may be worth refining your strategy here and investing in your marketing team. If the overall team is working well, consider whether there is an opportunity to drive sales, and whether investing in your sales team makes sense. First though you must understand the need to best determine which function you must evolve.

It is a common mistake of many start-ups to have the product owner working as a member of the development team. These are distinct functions, and if they are not separate now, it’s probably something else to consider as a first step in growth. Think of it in terms of home building. The person who decides what goes into the product (the homeowner) is not the same as the person who manages the development team (the general contractor who supervises and manages all of the trades). The wishes, interests and goals of one do not meet the understanding, skill set or decision-making priorities that are required of the other.

Remember, there is also value to be gained from looking outside a permanent team member to consultants who may have insights, experience or expertise and new ideas that your company can benefit from on a short-term basis.

What is the ideal roadmap composition?

There is a basic roadmap to building and successfully developing a product that can better help explain the organization of the ideal team. Once the founder/management/stakeholder team sets the vision, they must communicate this to the marketing director who will build a brand to both fit the vision and meet the interests of the target market. The marketing team or director, depending on the size of the company, will then conduct surveys, workshops, conferences and research within the company to ensure the correct strategy and to determine next steps.

The product owner will then determine which features should be developed first. After speaking with management and the technical team to understand whether there are existing assets that can be utilized, or whether there is a need to develop something new, this person has the last word on the roadmap the technical team receives.

Leading the technical team, the scrum master will examine the roadmap and any backlog of features, and will review the schedule and time costs, looking ahead weeks or months depending on the lifecycle of the product. Facebook is a prime example of the ultimate goal of every software edit team. Their proactive and dynamic strategy generates a new application version every week.

From here, the Web team will provide a demo environment which combines branding from the marketing team and the asset from the technical team, and through a presale stage, will determine interest and fine-tuning that may be required before the product is formally launched.

Setting this roadmap for developing, producing and launching a product, it is easier to see how a team might be organized and where your own organization may be lacking, and to plan for growth or structure to meet the ideal scenario.

Does your team have all of the organizational components it needs? Do you have a question about your company’s structure? What are your next steps? Does your organizational structure look different? Let us know below.