Hiring More Engineers Can Actually Delay Your Product Launch

Hiring More Engineers Can Actually Delay Your Product Launch
  • April 10, 2024

Has your internal team dropped the ball and now you’re rushing to finalize a project? Scaling your engineering team won’t necessarily do the trick.

The idea that more hands on deck always means a quicker, higher-quality output is often untrue. In fact, it can be detrimental to company success.

With over 60 successful projects and a reputation for timeliness and reliability, we’ve got the chops to discuss this subject. We didn’t get to where we are today by endlessly expanding our team. Instead, we did it by retaining talent, empowering employees, and approaching each project with a detailed plan.

Don’t spend your money on surplus hires that cause more issues than they solve. Join us to learn why quality and strategic decision-making outshine quantity.

Brooks’ Law

We at Vitamin know we should avoid scaling our engineering team to meet deadlines thanks to years of experience. Still, we weren’t the first to reach the conclusion. This principle is known in software engineering project management due to an iconic book from 1975 — ‘The Mythical Man-Month’ by Fred Brooks.

comic about Brook's law

Brooks claims that adding more engineers to a project that’s behind schedule delays the launch date. The industry has changed since his book came out, but his ideas still ring true for healthcare product development.

Why More Engineers Isn’t Always Better

Some workforce increases are good for the company — for example, a team of one will be slower than several people collaborating. But at some point, hiring engineers can harm your operations.

There’s a point where scaling your engineering team starts having diminishing returns. Adding people on board causes coordination issues; and good coordination is necessary if you want to build tightly regulated, complex healthcare software.

Coordination isn’t the only challenge, either. The nature of healthcare SaaS projects means more people don’t work faster, even when perfectly in sync.

Many parts of healthcare product development have dependencies or bottlenecks that don’t resolve after expanding your team. If a task requires specialized knowledge, has resource limitations, or requires waiting for a third party, throwing more engineers at it won’t bring you closer to the finish line. And it’ll cost you plenty in terms of time, money, and human resources.

The issue of overstaffing can become company-wide, too. As one of our clients (an executive himself) said, ‘all my problems have two legs.’ Adding more people to the equation introduces new issues for the leaders to solve, taking their time away from leading projects and satisfying stakeholders.

4 Challenges of Scaling Up Your Engineering Team

Let’s explore the four struggles of growing your healthcare product development teams. These issues are the most prominent if hiring mid-project, but they might emerge at any stage. And if we’re being honest — in our industry, we’re rarely not mid-project.

more isn't better, better is better

1. Talent-Seeking Struggles

Scaling your engineering team with the highest-value individuals is a prerequisite for success. However, hiring is time-consuming, and you might speed it up by shortening the recruitment process. This could cause you to overlook shortages in hires’ portfolios and add an unsuitable developer to the team. And hiring to fire is a morale-killer, as well as expensive for the company.

It’s better to invest in existing talent than hire new people. You can turn a mid-level engineer into an exceptional one through training, education, and experience. But doing so takes time and resources, which can be too much for your company in the middle of a time-sensitive project. Use this strategy for long-term success, but when seeking an immediate solution, a technical partner like Vitamin is a safer bet.

Pro tip: If hiring is the only option, seek folks with technical proficiency, problem-solving, independent thinking, and teamwork skills. Prior experience in a field like medical technology isn’t necessary for healthcare SaaS projects, but it’ll make the work of your Product Manager much easier.

2. The Costs of Onboarding

With an existing project, onboarding demands your current engineers to explain the codebase, workflows, and requirements to newcomers. Up-to-date documentation about your healthcare SaaS product helps, but it’s not always a complete solution.

According to Frontline Recruitment, the time an engineer spends in a healthcare company has dropped by 20% in the past 20 years (it’s now about two years). A LinkedIn study found that it takes 49 days for a new engineer to start working, too. Crunch the numbers, and you’ll realize the recruitment and training expenses outweigh the benefits you get from a new team member when hiring before the final bell.

3. Communication Breakdowns

Hiring engineers and introducing them to existing teams can cause communication breakdowns. Misunderstandings are annoying in the best-case scenario; in the worst one, they hinder team cohesion and productivity.

Communication improves with time, but you can establish onboarding procedures to facilitate it. Ensure the team uses unified collaboration tools — Vitamin uses Slack for daily updates, and everybody knows where they’ll find information.

Beyond internal conversations, standardize your external communication to stakeholders to maintain transparency. At Vitamin, this comes in the form of weekly executive reports to keep everybody on the same page.

4. Ever-Changing Workflows

A group of 15 engineers operates differently than a lean, five-person team. Everybody needs a meaningful role and an available supervisor. This structure becomes more complex with every new person you add to the picture.

It pays to consider the current task division. Identify the least productive areas of your existing workflow and check whether you can speed them up with technology and training. Hiring engineers is a good option if you’ve done the legwork to optimize beforehand.

Pro tip: Consider a microservices approach for healthcare SaaS development. Divide your employees into small teams, each with a few skilled people overseen by a leader. Each works on a separate feature or task set within a given timeframe.

What About Using a Staffing Agency?

Temporarily scaling your engineering team through a staffing agency may sound like a workaround for the issues we discussed. But again, we’re not convinced.

External resources are helpful, but not when their goals directly contradict your own. Consider how staffing agencies stay profitable — the longer a project takes, the more hours they can bill. Which is bad news when you want to launch as fast as possible.

Skip staffers and rely on trusted healthcare software solutions partners. We provide the expertise needed to navigate complexities and enhance project outcomes because we offer business solutions, not just people to throw at a problem.

We succeed when you succeed — it’s at the core of our business model.

Our team consists of senior engineers, Business Analysts, Project Managers, and consulting professionals, all with experience in healthcare projects to support reliable product development. We work fast, too: we’ve taken projects from scratch to launch in as little as three months before.

We also perform a Vitamin Sanity Check on your plan, ensuring it’s viable and capital-efficient. Our advisory role has previously resulted in a client reducing requirements, launching on time, and saving over $500,000.

Scaling Engineering Teams: Key Takeaways

Follow the common wisdom for scaling engineering teams: more isn’t always better. While your instinct might be to grow or tap into external resources to speed things up, you must act smart to get it right. Quality trumps quantity, so think about capacity-building, not temporary solutions.

Bear in mind that success often lies in optimization, not just scale. So, before going for ‘more,’ pause and consider the potential of ‘better.’

We understand that sometimes releasing a project and staying on budget is a priority, though. What if reallocating internal resources or even hiring engineers won’t cut it? Contact us for a consultation and let us have a go at the issue.

The Vitamin team excels at finding technological solutions to business problems. Our consultative service can help you find an alternative approach, and if needed, we can partner up to get it done faster.

Vitamin Software

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