(Originally authored on 20 July 2020 in my private notes. These are my notes on when to hire new team members.)

We may see some pending work often and identify that as the responsibility of people with a certain title or specialization. If this work comes up enough times - it is very likely that there would be a proposal to hire for this role.

Here’s how it usually goes: A company needs a mobile app built as a companion to their primary product line.

None of the current engineers can build the mobile app due to various reasons. The reasons may include the lower priority of the mobile app in comparison to the product backlog, missing skill/experience on the team, or urgency in the organization to ship the mobile app.

So the hiring starts. Position is opened and interviews happen. A suitable person is hired to build mobile apps and a manager is assigned to them.

The manager’s pain

A few months later, the mobile app is built and released. Congratulations to the team - they have delivered good work. The mobile app has no bugs. They require very minimal maintenance work. The organization now prefers to focus on other priority items and no more updates are planned to the mobile app.

The manager and the mobile engineer begin experimenting with a few other ideas, but quickly realise that any further work on the mobile apps require other teams to build/expose APIs. And these teams would not do it - because it is not their priority at the moment or for the next quarter.

Days or weeks later - soon enough, the manager begins to find it difficult to create work for the mobile engineer. The eventual end is to let go of this mobile engineer.

Hard truth: The person hired to build mobile apps should not have been hired.

The roadmap check for hiring full-time

An easy way to avoid the above scenario from happening is to check if there’s enough work for a full year before hiring.

  • Try creating a roadmap of work to be done by this future person. List work to be done without which the company cannot run.
  • Most importantly, for anyone hired in new position to succeed, list other teams/people who should be supporting them. Ensure to check their priority list or roadmap for the next one year.

If there is not enough work for a year, but if it still requires another person on your team, then hiring a part-time position or a contractor would be better.