The idea of endless growth can be tempting for any software company. Let us tell you where we draw the line.
Prograils has by design circa 30 people on board. This is the fact we keep on repeating every now and then. Even though we had explained it shortly on a number of occasions, I thought it would be good to provide a more in-depth explanation. Bring it on!
Big enough, small enough… just enough
From day one, we believe that a personal and direct way of making business is a way to go.
At Prograils, personal engagement is something that works in both directions - on our end, as a software development company, and that of our clients.
While we believe that a significant staff increase would probably make us able to handle more projects, it eventually would disconnect us from clients and their actual needs. Let alone the uncurbed employee rotation, which is something we simply want to avoid.
“We are big enough to offer stability, just enough to be flexible & small enough to give your project an individual edge” is another thing we like to say about our company, and it is not just a nice sounding phrase.
We really mean it.
Self-management, not micromanagement
In this article, I identified a developer’s arch enemy: distraction.
I also listed several measures that help us fight it effectively: every employee obtains any gear they need to focus on their work, and we strongly refuse to move the entire dev team to one room or to move desks in general.
At Prograils, we believe in self-management. We simply feel that 30 people on board is, again JUST enough, to manage themselves.
Self-management at a software company comes with flexibility of employees to perform various tasks. It means a CEO can also do the programming job, and a software tester can write some lines of Ruby on Rails code without quality trade-offs in any of these fields.
If our team grew significantly, I think we’d be done with self-management and would have to narrow down each other’s activities to strictly specified fields of expertise. Which we don’t necessarily want to.
Although, when facing problems doing their job, no one is left alone. We develop a culture based on knowledge sharing and access to information resources, where anyone can openly admit “I don’t know how to do it” and get proper help.
Protecting work-life balance
It doesn’t take a genius to notice that both private and professional life have an impact on each other. Whereas I don’t try to interfere with what our employees do in their free time, I want them to know they are welcome to let me know whenever something important happens. They are not judged. Being aware of what’s going on simply helps us organize work and divide tasks.
How does it relate to our preferred team size? Well, to me 30 people is enough to stay on top of everyone’s individual situation and take it into account when launching new projects and carrying on with the existing ones.
No big corporation management style
Most of us share a strong distaste toward big corporate molochs and the way they manage projects and people. To some of us it is a matter of experience: been there, done that, didn’t like it.
That attitude works on many levels - including our office culture that is best expressed in a total opposition to open office spaces. Every one of them has their own way to get into the zone, keep the focus and do their job with attention to details. We want to respect that.
This is what makes us a software shop, not a sweatshop.
I’m afraid growing in numbers would loosen our individual approach towards each employee, and their relationship with our services and products.
Long story short: it all boils down to our employees’ comfort, which we strongly believe to have an impact on the quality of our services.
Remote work? What’s the difference?
The covid-19 pandemic has sent us home and challenged with the necessity of getting accustomed to “the new normal”. Has it paralyzed or turned our way of working upside down? I wouldn’t say so.
We had already been well-trained in remote work before, so our perfect company size is still circa 30 people regardless of where they are working from. Of course we had to go through a bit of adjustments in the first place, of course we had to focus on communication and accept it would be more asynchronous. Of course we had to put more effort into making our work visible to each other, but apart from that - everything worked as usual.
Once again: the employee count revolving around 30 people is just enough, no matter if they work from the office or from home.
How do we know Prograils is growing as a company?
I am not interested in endless growth understood as a constant inflow of new projects and hiring new people. Team growth is not something we measure our company’s success against. There are, however, a couple of indicators that keep me confident that we are doing pretty good.
Stability and long-term B2B relationships
“We are big enough to offer you stability” - starts our motto I already quoted at the beginning. Stability is also the source of our prosperity and well-being as a company.
What makes me feel that we are moving forwards are our long-lasting business relationships and SaaS products. Take Chisa. It started as an internal data management tool for a Danish construction company. Over the years, it has conquered the hearts of those in charge of other businesses in this industry and now helps them calculate costs and risk on a daily basis.
Technological progress: From Rails to Elixir
What else? We started as a Ruby on Rails software company. Years go by, and we have developed a solid mobile development team that handles projects in both native and cross-platform technologies (so Java/Swift and React Native; lately we’ve been playing around with Flutter).
Right now, we are conquering yet another promising territory of web development: Elixir/Phoenix with an expanding team.
Quality & security
Every year, Prograils increases the quality of its services. In December 2019 we got an ISO 27001 certificate from BSI. This confirms our software is bulletproof in terms of information security at every stage of development and that we are well-trained in managing incidents related to it.
It all makes us sure that we support our clients with robust and complementary services that make them achieve their business goals.
Wrap up: 30 people is our perfect dev team size
They say never change the winning team. With all the above things achieved with less than 30 people on board, my word of advice to others would be: don’t change the winning team size if you don’t feel like it.
Want to learn more about how we run Prograils? Read our playbook.