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Growing demand for Digital Health solutions is pushing leading market players to constantly focus on product innovation. Ultimately, this has made the engineering function an indispensable pillar of any HealthTech. Scaling your engineering team to match your company’s growth is a daunting task; yet scaling is a matter of survival in this ever-competitive market.

This in-depth guide has two main parts. In the first section, we’ll share our own research and expertise, covering how to scale your engineering team through funding rounds and diving into the engineering team make up by company size and in the C-suite. The second section tackles the main challenges of scaling engineering teams: what is the ideal leadership structure? Should your team be remote, or in house? How do you maintain culture as you scale? What are the steps for recruiting the top engineers in the tech world?

We hope this guide serves as a helpful resource for HealthTechs looking to propel their engineering function to help them on their path to success.

The Engineering Team Makeup

By Funding Round

From our research, 74% of Series A HealthTechs had an engineering team of eight or more. 100% of all companies analyzed had a fully hired engineering function by Series D. For HealthTechs, having an established engineering team is paramount for success. It increases the value of the company and ultimately the likelihood of raising more and more investment. According to Shahan Khan, CEO of NewGenia, “…investors are interested in seeing a complete team in the engineering function from the start.” Ultimately, then, if you’ve received the funds, the time to invest in scaling your engineering team is now.

By Company Size

Unsurprisingly, the size of the engineering team differs depending on the size of the company. Larger companies ultimately have more established engineering functions. This is because as a company scales in size, as do its service offerings, increasing the need for more engineers to come in and build new tech products and services.

However, our data found that there was a small dip in the size of engineering teams in companies with a headcount of 301-500. In this instance, it’s important to recognize that company size and engineering maturity are two different veins: your organization can be large, but its offerings may be less tech-enabled and more product focused. This means that there’s less of a tangible need to scale your engineering team at large. Ultimately, the complexity and number of products or services your company offers should have a great influence on the structure and size of your engineering function.

In The C-Suite

From the companies we researched, 56% had an Engineering lead in the C-Suite in the position of Chief Technology Officer (CTO). This statistic begins right the way from Series A and rises to 73% by Series C. With the current dizzying speed of technological change in HealthTech, having the CTO role filled is crucial at all stages of a startup’s growth.

Ruben Vosmeer, VP of Engineering reaffirms that “…the CTO role is important to be filled from early on. It’s a recognizable name, and whoever looks at the company from the outside needs to know who oversees the tech.”

Ultimately, the CTO keeps a HealthTech ahead of the fast-changing trends and anticipates disruptions to your business model and company vision. Even at Seed stage, CTOs have a relevant role in defining the technical setup of the company and in ensuring technological growth. At later stages, the CTO is essential for defining what technological approach to follow and for aligning with the Chief Product Officer (CPO), Chief Information Officer (CIO) and other C-Suite leaders to achieve overall company goals.

The Ideal Leadership Structure:

Having both a CTO and leadership team directing your engineering function is paramount to your team’s overall success. As the team grows in headcount, much of the project and people management aspects of the role will naturally fall to the CTO; this is when hiring a VP, Head of, or Director of engineering is crucial to the department’s overall success. Ultimately, if you have a CTO but no other leaders, or leadership without a CTO to report into, alignment is lost.

“As a business grows, it’s important that the engineering leaders report to the business functions to ensure the engineering team is aligned with the business goals.”

Shahan Khan, CEO, NewGenia

Rather than hiring external experts immediately, it’s wise to consider promoting your internal talent into these leadership roles. But how can you identify which employees in the company are potential leaders? Technical proficiency doesn’t always translate into leadership excellence, however, here are a few traits that can help you spot leaders in your business:

  • They take initiative: Look for those employees who take initiative to grow and develop, both inside and outside of the workplace. Is there someone showing a keen interest in taking on more challenging projects and tasks? Has a particular person asked to participate in educational workshops at your company? Suppose you’ve noticed an employee who takes initiative on a task rather than waiting for instruction. In that case, it’s clear this person is confident in their decision-making and can likely handle higher-level work.
  • They are solutions focused: Another top trait to look for in potential leaders is the ability to provide solutions to problems and challenges. Rather than becoming overwhelmed by the situation or complaining, they bring suggestions for how to solve it.
  • They are great mentors: Look for those employees in your company who are actively mentoring those around them. These are the people who help newcomers adapt to their new positions by providing them with voluntary support and guidance. These can also be the people in your business that hold webinars or workshops for the team. 

Remote Or In-House Teams?

One of the most important trends that has affected workplaces in recent years is the increased acceptance of remote working. Out of all departments, the engineering team has become the most known for having switched into a remote-first mindset. In fact, a 2023 study on The State of Remote Engineering by Terminal found that 80% of engineers want to work remotely at least 80% of the time. But does having a fully remote engineering team affect a company’s culture, product/service, or efficiency in any way? We turned to the experts to ask them their thoughts:

Bruno Monteiro, Vice President of Engineering: “A lot of engineering roles can be outsourced and done remotely, but a startup cannot call themselves a ‘Tech Company’ if the engineering team is not really present in-house and not valued enough.”

Bruno Monteiro, Vice President of Engineering:

“Having the engineering team in-house becomes necessary when it’s time for proficiently scaling the company.”

Shahan Khan, CEO of NewGenia

“Having the engineering team in-house allows for more creativity and better teamwork. It creates a different product to having it outsourced.”

Ruben Vosmeer, Vice President of Engineering

Important Steps For Scaling Successfully

Growing your engineering team is no walk in the park. It requires meticulous planning and a robust framework to safeguard the company’s operations and preserve revenue streams. Also, you need to ensure you don’t lose your company culture in the process. For sustainable and successful growth, consider these four essential steps:

  • Be mindful of your team’s growth

Being mindful of your team’s growth allows you to make informed decisions when it comes to expansion. This includes hiring employees with the intention of grooming them into future leaders and incorporating it into your budget planning.

  • Start early

The best time to train your team is yesterday; the second-best time is today. Growing a team takes months of planning ahead and there’s fierce competition out there, with all HealthTechs competing with one another to recruit the best senior tech talent. Therefore, it’s best to begin planning as soon as you detect growth in the market or your product usage.

  • Determine your vacant positions

Identifying where additional support or leadership is needed in your team is critical in creating a plan to fill the gaps. You’ll also be able to maximize time and resources and safeguard your business from any negative impact in the process. 

  • Detect suitable candidates

Once you’ve identified the positions to be filled, you need to identify suitable candidates for these roles. Begin by looking inwards and considering who you already have on the team that could be the best fit for the role. If there are roles that still need filling, start looking externally for candidates. The good news is that engineers are always looking to switch jobs. But to recruit the best engineers in the space, have to find a way of attracting their attention…

How To Recruit The Top Engineers

So, how do you attract and recruit the best engineers when scaling fast?

Hiring tech talent is tricky, especially for those HealthTechs that are yet to become an established, prestigious brand. If you’re not Google or Amazon, it’s unreasonable to think you can compete with the salaries that bigger tech players are offering; in these cases, you have to get creative.

Meet Tech Talent Where They Are

You need to uncover the platforms that your ideal candidates spend their time on. Once you know this, you can engage with them in their natural habitat. Here are three platforms where you can find specialist tech talent:

  • Open-source code contributors

Looking for candidates on sites such as SourceForge and GitHub allows you to evaluate a candidate’s code samples before even extending a job offer.

  • Public Slack communities

Slack communities that’re centered around programming discussions is another approach for finding engineers that’re active in the tech community. But you’ll need to sign up before you can browse these channels.

  • Blogs and online technical postings

Engineering blogs are another incredible source of top-quality candidates. Technical posts usually suggest a high level of technical understanding and expertise, so in a way, these candidates are already vetted before a proper interview has even taken place.

How To Preserve Culture As You Scale

It’s easier to pass on your company’s culture when working with a small team. As your team expands, the responsibility of maintaining this culture falls onto the managers and team leads; and if they’re not prepared to uphold this culture, your company’s core values are at risk of taking a backseat. Fortunately, you can avoid this by preparing middle management employees to be ‘culture carriers’ with the below steps:

  • Hire for culture fit

Whether you’re hiring for managers or leaders from within your organization or externally, hire people who are a great fit for your company’ culture. Those candidates who display a great understanding of your company’s core values will be able to transfer these values to other teammates.

  • Uphold the company culture yourself

Through natural observation, newly appointed leaders are more likely to imitate their superiors. Therefore, a great way of ensuring that your company’s culture isn’t lost as you grow is to be a true ambassador of the culture yourself.

  • Keep culture top of mind for managers

Don’t stop talking about your company’s culture with employees. More importantly, when internal employees take up leadership positions, remind them of your core values and reinforce that, as leaders, they’re more responsible than ever for upholding the culture.

Final Thoughts

$207.34 billion – this is the size the global HealthTech market is predicted to grow to by 2025. It’s no exaggeration to say that the engineering function is the backbone of this revolution. HealthTechs across all sectors must prioritise building a high-functioning engineering team to allow for growth and prosperity.

No matter what funding round, size, or sector, it’s never too early to begin investing and building out your engineering team. The strategies covered in this guide will help you recruit high-quality talent at the right time for your business. However, it’s important that you prioritize the people in your HealthTech over all else, as ultimately, it’s your people who create the products and make decisions that will affect the longevity and success of your organization.

How Storm3 Can Help You

Engineering recruitment is in greater demand than ever before as leading HealthTechs across the globe continue to realise the importance of this progressive function. As a specialist Engineering and DevOps recruitment agency, we’re connected with some of the best talent in the industry.

From CTOs to senior engineers and Vice Presidents of engineering, our dedicated team of specialist recruiters unite leading engineering professionals with disruptive HealthTech companies, to create the most pioneering engineering teams in the market.

Hiring? Get in touch with us today. Our expert consultants have a rich network of engineering professionals who can help spearhead your HealthTech’s mission.

We’ve helped some of the most successful HealthTech startups grow.

— now it’s your turn.