July 13

Scaling a Product Team — Overcoming Obstacles, Defining a Process & Empowering Your Team

Rethinking product management: how to get from start-up to scale-up. Lex Sisney has considerable experience in helping companies scale their organizations. And he regularly sees a breakdown in Product Management as a key element in holding a company back from expansion. A breakdown may happen if there is poor coordination between departments, a haphazard approach to releases, or having leadership that is too invested in minor product details. To overcome these obstacles he recommends that you make Product Management a separate function, move the role closer to the customer and equip it with the right tools to get the job done.

Lessons learned from scaling a product team. The Intercom team has defined a process that they employed to scale their product team. Although they underline that, although it has worked for them, it may not work for you. A process that works must fit in with your company’s culture. The process involves setting clear guidelines for making decisions (e.g., taking small steps), ensuring that team members are accountable for the responsibilities that they are given, obsessing over a relatively short-term roadmap and being married to the discipline of goal setting.

Scaling product management at SendGrid: growing the team. Scott Williamson best summarized what he learned scaling SendGrid’s product team himself — “Growing a PM team at a rapidly scaling company is exciting but also full of challenges. You need to unify your team, gain executive support to grow your team and optimize your PM:Design and PM:Engineering ratios, decide on your strategy for “growing” vs. “buying” PMs, and nail the hiring process.

Paul McAvinchey

About the author

For over 20 years, Paul has been building and collaborating on digital products with fast-growing startups and global brands, including AOL and WMS Gaming. Currently, he's a co-founder of Product Collective, a worldwide community of product people. Members collaborate on in the exclusive Member Hub, meet at INDUSTRY: The Product Conference, listen to Rocketship.fm, learn at Product Interviews and get a weekly newsletters that includes best practices in product management. In recent years he led business development at DXY, a leading product design firm in the Midwest, and product innovation at MedCity Media, a publishing startup acquired by Breaking Media in 2015.


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