Software DevelopmentStartups
Kamil Ferens, 2021-01-13

CTO challenges – scale-up and growth of software products

The CTO’s duties are diverse, aren’t they? Primary, it is about being in charge of technological needs as well as research and development (R&D) of the organization. However, in some cases, the CTOs have to face some other extra demanding challenges. One of them is efficient management of scaling up of software products.

The questions asked here concern the possible threats and assuming the right approach to manage them. So, read further to learn about common situations such as premature scaling, technical debt, software prioritization, and budget constrictions.

Premature scaling. Make sure you are ready!

Research conducted by Startup Genome shows that in as many as 70% of cases scaling too early is the cause of start-up bankruptcy. Companies are investing when they are not really ready for it. 

Why is this happening? Perhaps the simplest answer is that the companies do not know when the time to scale up is right. If your product is not ready for it, you will find out very quickly. It does not matter that the revenue is at a good level as other processes consume the budget. Another very common mistake is increased recruitment when the product is still of poor quality or no longer satisfies customers. 

You may have an extensive portfolio of clients, but what if they start to quit after they start seeing the shortcomings and lack of quality? I think a good idea that regards scaling too early is the Pareto principle.

According to its findings, 20% of clients bring 80% of profits. Therefore, it is better to first focus on refining the product, getting to know the needs of customers so that product features are matched as closely as possible to market expectations. This way, you can have a modest portfolio of clients who trust you and are satisfied.

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Technical debt

It is a very common and demanding problem at the same time. Technical debt is always a constraint for product development. You can hide the imperfections of the product for a while, but they will show at some point. So, the sooner you deal with them, the better. 

Technical debt is often encountered by CTOs (and C-suite executives in general) who have just started working with a given product. It does take some time to fix all problems, but it just pays off. The implementation of modern solutions, failure-free operation and following the best practices in the industry is something that your customers will appreciate very quickly. 

To deal with technical debt, you need to surround yourself with an experienced team of developers. Make sure your team is competent enough to overcome this challenge so that you don't have to handle any such problems...

Technical debt in practice

Software prioritization

Do you know the feeling when you look at your backlog and see an endless list of tasks to do? This is also one of major challenges for CTOs who are scaling a product. As a rule, the number of developers is limited, so tasks should be selected and prioritized to maintain continuity of development. 

Of course, you have to reckon with the fact that you will not always achieve all of your goals, especially when your team is overburdened. But it's quite natural and you just need to manage the entire process wisely. An alternative to consider is a team extension, something like a rescue team that would be a relief to your developers. This solution is a chance to accelerate the development.

Budget constraints

I guess there is no such thing as a budget that is too big, right? Well, that's the way it is in all kinds of projects (especially software development type) and staying within the limits is quite a challenge for C-level executives. Scaling is always associated with large investments. 

From the perspective of software development, it is undoubtedly the greatest challenge, right after acquiring the best IT talents who guarantee sustainable development and high-quality product. Anyway, how to deal with budget constraints? There is no golden rule for this. My suggestion is that you definitely need to make some budgetary assumptions at the beginning and try to stick to them. 

Of course, these assumptions must be supported by in-depth analyses and, preferably, practical experience. Never plan your entire budget, leave a portion for any extra expenses or delays. When scaling a product, you always do your best to prevent them from happening but they are, unfortunately, very common.


If you approach the software product scaling process properly and avoid these common mistakes, you will accelerate your growth and give yourself a chance for success. My last advice to you as CTO is to always surround yourself with a taam of experts. Remember that even the best CTO will not achieve the company’s goals without cooperating with a qualified team. So... good luck!

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