While every product and business situation has its own set of nuances, a few important considerations go a long way in efficiently scaling your product. Here is the When, What and How’s of Scaling:
#1: When to Scale
2013’s Startup Genome Report came out with an alarming figure based on the analysis of about 3200 high growth start-ups. 74% of these start-ups failed due to premature scaling.
Premature scaling not only refers to scaling during the MVP stage, but also to scaling attempts during a major release or feature rollout.
So why mustn’t you scale prematurely in either of the cases? The answer is simple. It’s a tall order, predicting whether an MVP / feature rollout will get a favourable response from your customers and what the business forecasts would look like. So if you do scale, you do it based on a hunch, not numbers. The best way hence, is to let your MVP / feature rollout stabilize, and then scale it as per the business requirements.
Having a great product is simply not enough these days. To stay on top of the game, you need to constantly innovate and improvise. That being said, continuous innovation is a costly game.
The value of innovation is depreciating and it can be applied perfectly to time your scale activities. Rollout a part of your innovation/improvement initiative and allow it to follow the value curve right till its value begins to dip. When it does, scale up in terms of the remaining functionalities. That way, not only do you add value to your business constantly, but distribute the costs of doing so as well.
In short, you need to align your Product Scaling with your business forecast. So do forecast your business and then plan for scaling your product accordingly.
# 2: What to Scale
In an ideal scenario, scaling the entire system and all components of your product in one go seems feasible and cost efficient. But reality is far removed from that.
Prioritization, is the key to successfully scaling your product and if you go with the flow, this shouldn’t be a tall order.
From a scaling perspective, it pays to breakdown larger systems into components and de-couple components to understand what is causing a bottleneck in your business and how. Not only will this help you prioritize what to scale first, it will also help you understand what level to scale up to.
#3: How to Scale
Scaling is not merely adding server space and being done with it. As a key factor of your product’s ability to succeed, it is an area where you can optimize your costs and efforts with the right approach. Some key parameters that help you choose the right approach include:
- Time involved and interdependencies: Faced with a situation once, where Talentica Software needed to scale their product by quite a high multiple yet ensure that they optimized costs. Talentica de-coupled individual modules, allowing them to be scaled individually and in parallel, thereby reducing the time and interdependencies associated with scaling.
- Costs and efforts involved: Picking up on prioritizing scalability requirements, there have been situations, where simply using different caching layers and introducing distributed messaging queues have solved scaling dilemmas that would have otherwise entailed much costlier and time consuming endeavours.
- Optimization: While conventional definitions might suggest so, scaling isn’t always about adding on top of your existing setup. Talentica in an instance has we dropped from 700 to 300 server boxes, but operated at the same capacity. While they could have added on top of their existing server boxes, reducing them helped them optimize the system in terms of costs and maintainability.
- Availability: There was once a customer who was ready for a costly solution for their database issues but couldn’t afford losing out on the up time. Putting the clutter aside, Talentica adopted a simple approach of splitting the database vertically (partitioning) and horizontally (sharding). Not only was it much cheaper than the targeted budget but it also avoided the loss in availability from time consuming re-architectures.
#4: How Much to Scale
When it comes to product scaling the Big Bang approach never works. Since scaling is more of a continuous event throughout the course of your business, knowing “How Much” of it to do is critical.
As a generic formula, if X is the volume you are currently at. 10X is a good scale capacity to be at during the early stages, since growth in volumes is erratic. Towards business maturity a 3X scale capacity is ideal, as growth in volumes is relatively stable trajectory. In the event of a major enhancement, it is ideal to switch back to around 10X scale capacity as volumes might spike erratically and being unprepared would mean certain doom.
The sale day on e-commerce apps is a perfect example to highlight this point. When the volume in traffic hits multiples of its daily volumes, the applications inadvertently fail to perform. This is because nobody factors in the additional requirement to scale in such special situations.
Now, the big questions are: Have you nailed it? Have you scaled it? If you answer in a negative for either or both of them, get in touch with Talentica Software by pushing the learn more button below.