At UXDX APAC, March 4-5 2021, Kristine Joy Paas will deliver a talk 'Handling Sudden Growth'. Joy, an Engineering Manager at Quipper, she will share the challenges encountered and how her team responded to them. Find out more on Joy's UXDX Profile or buy tickets to her talk now at: https://uxdx.com/apac/2021/tickets
I am an Engineering Manager at Quipper, an educational technology company. In early 2020, I was promoted to Engineer Manager, but while I was still adjusting to my new role, Quipper experienced hyper-growth. This situation affected our platforms, teams, and the product itself. From our experience with this challenging journey, I want to share some tips for dealing with rapid business growth as an engineering manager.
It’s easy to say, but it’s very important to implement - try not to panic. Witnessing a quick incline in user growth can cause anyone panic, but take a deep breath. Taking a look at the data available to you can help pinpoint the issues that need addressing and make the situation clearer and make it easier to see what to prioritise.
All Hands On Deck
Delegate work amongst your whole team. One person cannot carry the world, and by sharing the responsibility, it’ll give you space to manage the situation. This is also an opportunity to empower and engage others and show trust amongst your team.
Cross-Functional Teams Saved Us
We restructured the product teams at Quipper in early 2020. Previously, engineering teams managed platforms more independently and this created a huge loss of cross-functional communication.
During our growth period, the teams needed to communicate more because of the issues we experienced affected all platforms. We improved our cross-functional communication by having regular sessions with the platform leads to share the solutions we were implementing and how they can affect each other. We found this very useful and we decided to continue with this practice even if we have made our systems more stable.
What Tasks To Prioritise
Ranking the issues according to the severity and the cost to fix them can give a clearer picture of what to tackle first. Generally, high severity issues go to the top of the priority list as these are most critical to the business. However, there are other costs that may affect prioritization like development cost and opportunity cost. For example, an issue may have a lower severity but it can provide a much higher business value if released at a certain time.
Overall, there will be challenging times when experiencing hyper-growth but the main focus is on prioritisation and team communication. My best advice to other companies that might experience hyper-growth is to set up an alert system based on metrics (e.g. error rates) critical to operations. This will give you warnings through monitoring systems and once you see those warnings, address them as soon as you can. Otherwise, the issues will pile up and it will be harder to pinpoint the root cause.
If you want to hear more information about this, I will be delivering a talk called ‘Handling Sudden Growth’ at UXDX APAC on March 4th & 5th. Please join me and the host of amazing speakers. Here is a link to my UXDX APAC profile for more details: https://uxdx.com/profile/kristinejoy-paas