Erich von Hauske said: March 18, 2008 7:35:PM
I am living exactly this situation, we started 3.5 years ago (we are in Mexico) and 2007 was the point of inflection where we tripled our sales and we are just having our financial break even. So we grew from 5 developers in middle 2006 to a team of 30 people (including the Help Desk and IT Ops and around 22 developers).
How did we get started? With a small group of experienced (4-7 year experience) programmers, and 3 of us had worked together at another employer. The results were successful if you measure software success based on economics, but required a lot of work and sacrifices, in many aspects including technical debt, including almost no documentation (as I said there were sacrifices, some very hard to make) and a lack of processes, guidelines and checklists, all of these you can attribute it to me and to the lack of venture capital in Mexico.
Where are we now? I’m the Director of Technology and Operations, and we have a LOT of projects with customers and internal project to improve our platform, hiring people to cope with workload (our projects are very small 3-10 weeks), and with significant degradation (and halt) in the architecture of our platform after 1.5 years of hiring talented (but not experienced) people. Oh, and a lack of test that would make you cry (as I am right now). On the other (brighter side) all the team is in the same room, communicates a lot, there’s a good understanding of our business and everyone in the team is very motivated to improve.
So, what do I intent to do:
* Keep being very very selective when hiring, because of two reasons: 1) I still don’t have a decent budget (but who does?) and 2) Graduates from universities are very far from being SW Engineers and is very rare that they become SW Engineers later.
* Dedicate resources to document guidelines and checklists and to document the basic architecture and create a list of possible improvements. These to have some introduction for the new guys.
* Create an evaluation and compensation system similar to Construx’s Professional Ladder to further motivate everyone to improve (and specially to start reading books!!!). Especially I intend to include not only the SWE KA’s but also the Business “KA’s” required in our company.
* Training, training, training. IT pros with knowledge in even some “simple” concepts as Refactoring and Unit Testing (or TDD whichever you prefer) are VERY hard to find here (or at least for me) so I think it’s going to be cheaper and easier to train them. As a side note I just sent the first one to a Construx Course in February :D.
* If budget permits, buy some (basic) tools to help us implement the previous points.
Sorry for the long post, I’d find hard to explain it shorter, probably due to my constrained English. But I would love to hear more on this topic.