How we got a struggling technology team delivering on time and ready to grow in four months.
We wrapped up a four-month engagement with FundThrough, a growing Toronto fintech startup, last year, and they have since grown into the #1 provider in their market, with the processes, team and technology we helped put in place.
Managing a software team at a growing company is hard. If you ignore the day-to-day operations, deliverables won't ship, but if you ignore the high-level strategy, you can't guide the business. Not knowing what's going on with the team can be fatal, but as you grow, it gets harder and harder to maintain the transparency you need.
You worry. Is your team focused on the right things? Are they really going to hit their timelines?
If you want to build a great company, you need a great, high-performing team. The best people will always want to work on the best team.
Who is this for?
Review this case study if you are
- A CEO or senior executive who isn't sure that their technical team is firing on all cylinders
- Any tech leaders who need to focus on strategy but are stuck in the weeds with their team
Here's how a four-month engagement with Upspark, embedded with a struggling development team, got the day-to-day running great and allowed senior leadership to stay focused on strategy.
We came into FundThrough after they had lost a senior technology leader, and with a product half-way scaled. They needed quick improvements to the development team and a vision for their technical future. We worked with them for four months, leaving behind an accelerated development process and confident leadership. The same 3-step process has been used to produce consistent results for our clients.
1. Assess Critical Issues and Prioritize
We dove deeply into the technical and organizational situation, gleaning the key business needs and challenges.
By the end of the first month we'd identified that an internal analytics tool was creating a decision bottleneck and had a plan in place to address the need, while keeping the development team focused on product delivery.
How did you do that?
Our experience in high-growth software companies has taught us where to look and how to surface critical bottle-necks that others can miss.
How did you keep the rest of the team focused on product delivery?
We worked closely with the product owner to prioritize requirements and ensure a steady stream of actionable work kept the team busy but not overwhelmed.
Why hadn't the senior leadership seen the bottleneck you saw?
They had seen it! But day-to-day tactical challenges kept them from being able to understand its priority.
2. Refocus the Team on Output, not Effort
With that bottleneck handled we turned our attention to accelerating the development team's output and making sure that they were working on the right things week to week.
We had a hiring plan in place and the confidence of the dev team, and so we were able to take over the day-to-day operation of the team, building better communication with product owners and senior leadership. The team had always been busy, working hard, but there was very little connection to actual business output. The transparency we brought in made it possible for the company to stay on target and hold the team accountable.
How did you build accountability into the team?
By improving communications with the product side, we were able to get developers to make solid commitments week to week. As time went by, confidence in the team's estimates grew.
What does "transparency" mean?
The team committed to clear business outputs each week, delivering new value to our customers. Weekly leadership meetings were able to track that output against predictions.
What kind of work was getting done?
We were refactoring the product to manage scale, while at the same time working with external developers to integrate with third-party products. Meanwhile, the new hire was scaling and building reliability into our internal analytics, so that the core business could make good decisions.
3. Transition Technical Leadership Back to the Client
Upspark's philosophy is about making companies better. Our whole intention is to build your capacity so you don't need us anymore. That's what we did for FundThrough.
At FundThrough, with the team delivering solid results, with senior leadership focused on longer-term strategy instead of trying to manage the day-to-day operations, we undertook the final part of our contract and brought in a senior technical leader to manage the team. We left them running well and that same team is still in place a year later.
How do you hire people?
We've been hiring technology teams for decades, so our experience is deep, but at the same time we use some simple models for managing recruitment that we'll teach your team, preparing them to do further hiring down the road.
Why would you give away your "secrets"?
We don't have secrets. We just have judgement, refined over years of this work across numerous growing companies, and the skills to coordinate technology and strategy. We'll help your team grow their skills.
You can struggle along with your team as it is now, mired in the day-to-day operations without really knowing if you're making things better, losing sight of the long-term strategy. Or you could get Upspark in to give you back that strategic insight while making the day-to-day effortless.
Steven Uster, CEO at FundThrough, said about Upspark, "You have one foot in the deep technical side, but the other in the executive leadership room and you can communicate effectively in either."
We are right for you if you are a non-technical leader wondering if your development team is operating at full capacity, or a technical leader who is stuck in the day-to-day and not able to focus enough on strategy.
What are the benefits of bringing Upspark on board? Get clarity into your engineering processes and technology. Ensure you're using the best tools for the job. Accelerate your development team's output. Improve morale and accountability. Make sure your team is working on exactly the right thing from day to day. Have confidence in your team's delivery.
Upspark comes into your office and works side-by-side with your development team. We build trust and easy communication and we model new skills, providing feedback so that team members learn quickly. We likewise join your executive discussions so that we can quickly understand the business needs and identify opportunities for optimization.
Our typical engagement is 3-4 months. But if you aren't satisfied with our impact after two weeks, we guarantee your money back.
How much longer can you go on wondering if your development team is really able to scale your product?
Book a Free Discovery Session with Upspark right now!
Questions and Concerns
How do I know if it's time to call you?
If you're wondering that's a powerful sign right there. Just reach out and book a Free Discovery Session -- we're always happy to chat with leaders and help them get some perspective on how their team is doing.
How much is this going to cost?
Our pricing varies depending on the intensity of the engagement but we bill you every two weeks so if you aren't satisfied after that length of time you can cancel any time. And with our "two-week money back" guarantee, you aren't risking very much.
How do I engage my existing technology leadership in working with you?
Our 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
We offer a "100% satisfaction" guarantee. We bill every two weeks and if you aren't satisfied, you can cancel anytime and we will refund your two-week payment back, no questions asked. No long term contracts, no risk.
Corey Reid has managed technology teams for over two decades – taking companies from a dozen to a couple hundred employees. He is a passionate leader and facilitator, helping teams raise their level of practice.
Juan Musleh is a veteran engineering manager, leading teams at companies like Bitstrips and Freshbooks. She brings rigour and discipline to software teams, helping them make use of the best tools and practices available.