December 11, 2023


5 Steps That Actually Work For Rapidly Scaling Operations

develop rapidly expanding An early-stage supply-side business needs to grow with high dynamism and few resources. Operational errors while scaling can be costly.

We encountered this problem when we decided to venture into the edtech space and launch an educational app designed to allow experts to answer requests from millions of students almost instantly via live chat.

We started with a team of 20 people, which was more than enough for the early needs. In order to make the business profitable, the real race begins: the marketing team must expand the number of users, and the operations department must keep pace with them and expand the supply side.

We scaled the requirements regardless of team resources.

We got started in no time: more than 120 experts solve more than 3,000 math tasks every day. We’re betting on hypergrowth to survive in the market, so the operations team is scaling the supply by leaps and bounds.

We were so focused on scaling that we didn’t have time to wonder if our team’s resources were sufficient to continue moving at this pace.

It’s a good thing that our marketing has scaled rapidly. To keep pace with increased demand from the user side, my team tripled the size of the supply side within a month and a half, and doubled again after two months. Finally, we have more than 300 math experts who are able to solve more than 10,000 tasks every day. I was proud, excited, and terrified at the same time.

I realized that over the past five months our supply has played a role in demand coverage, service delivery time and solution quality. We were so focused on scaling that we didn’t have time to wonder if our team’s resources were sufficient to continue moving at this pace.

As a leader, I have to stop and look at the bigger picture.

My 5-Step Plan to Prevent an Imminent “Disaster”

1. Document all key processes “as is”

This is the first step not to be missed.

This is a common problem when there are no procedural symbols. The pace of work can be fast, and people must immediately perform tasks and solve problems, rather than describe the current process.

I described all the processes at that time intact. It helped me see the real situation we were in at the time. I figured out which things got out of hand and could quickly lead to big problems.

All processes were then updated according to the following framework:

Image Source: Julia Ivzhenko

2. Find any bottlenecks

I noticed two types of bottlenecks:

first: Subprocesses, which are added spontaneously to key processes when extended.

I found that due to the number of updates, my team members had to do too many extra actions that they hadn’t noticed before. So I took a look back at everything we did and streamlined the overall process. We only focus on the “must-dos” that have the greatest impact on the outcome, and set aside other “worth-doing” tasks.

Image Source: Julia Ivzhenko

second: Managers don’t delegate tasks in a timely manner and get bogged down in a flood of tasks.

Unfortunately, I am one of them. I’m doing too many things at once, and they never end. In my case, this happened mostly because of a hiring mistake, which seems to be the most costly mistake.