Situation: A software company relies on in-house expertise to both position itself and come up with unique solutions to clients’ problems. The CEO wants to significantly scale up the number of clients served per year. The challenge is that it is difficult to find software engineers who are experienced in a wide range of code languages. How do you scale with scarce talent?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Start by looking at the load carried by your current employees. Do they have the capacity to significantly increase the number of clients that they serve? Do you have sufficient back-up to serve existing and new clients should something happen to a key employee? It’s one thing to have ambition to expand, but another to assure that you have the capacity to serve both existing and new clients.
- Take a close look at your org chart.
- What happens and where are the exposures when you double the current service volume? Where will the greatest stresses occur? These are the first areas in which you should start to build redundancy.
- From an HR standpoint, you need a leadership development plan that extends down your organization chart. Use the stress analysis just mentioned to identify the areas in greatest need of additional resources and leadership development.
- Look for areas where you can off-load current responsibilities to support staff to increase the capacity of your current talent. This increases potential capacity as well as the overall value of the company.
- The lack of redundancy may prove to be detrimental to your ability to attract new large clients. Large potential clients and partners will use whatever means they have at their disposal (including stealth visits to your offices by local reps) to vet your organization before they make a commitment to you.
- New client and partner relationships are like new product introductions.
- A few early adopters will jump on your opportunity.
- Many of the most established clients or partners will sit on the sideline to monitor the experience of early adopters.
- If you trip in your service delivery early in your scale-up, most of the remaining targets will be slow to support your offering.
- Count on the first two years of building additional clientele to be very intensive. It will distract you from many of the functions you perform today, unless you have additional personnel to support this.