If you build your new digital product right, launch on time, and have solid adoption, you’ll face scalability issues, even if you’ve tried to avoid them completely. Since many products fail to have solid adoption or grow slower than expected, you could be wasting a lot of money and time trying to avoid them in the initial development. You can over-engineer your minimal viable product (MVP).
We will highlight B2B-specific scalability issues you should welcome and scalability problems that you should avoid.
1. B2B product scalability issues you should expect and welcome
It’s more important for you to have a good roadmap of your development process. This will save you the headache of how to approach multiple issues in the future.
There are three different types of scalability issues faced by most successful digital products;
- Onboarding and support,
- A product’s system isn’t performing and starts lagging, and
- Enterprise customers vs. SMB understanding that developing a B2B product is not the same as developing products immediately for end-users.
Onboarding and support
If you notice a quick increase in user activity, it can either be too much for your company’s onboarding process for new customers or supporting your existing customers. This is not a performance issue with your software. This could mean you don’t have enough automation to support your onboarding steps or customer support resolution. If most of your service requires manual labor, your processes won’t be able to handle the load of new users. You should expect this with a true MVP or beta launch and be ready to quickly address it once you see market traction.
Poor system performance
You could start seeing that your system isn’t performing as well as it used to - as engineers see it, it’s when your system is lagging and slowing down. This could be as a result of having built a prototype that wasn’t developed to handle the load your software is now carrying. In turn, your software starts breaking down and slowing as a result of heavy user traffic.
Enterprise customers vs. SMB
There’s also the importance of** understanding who you’re developing your software for**. There is a great difference between selling your digital product to corporations rather than smaller companies which might be your first beta customers. With larger corporations, your B2B digital product needs to be verifiably secure, have clear software licensing, and require accessibility. Some frameworks won’t support the systems you have implemented and for your enterprise buyer to use your digital product, it will require integrations with their existing systems.
2. You might need to worry about scalability if your developers made these mistakes
Although having scalability issues doesn’t have to mean the detriment of your digital product, and could be a sign of success, there are some scalability killers, and major mistakes that your software development partner could make that could prevent you from scaling.
Choosing enterprise-appropriate technologies, programming languages & frameworks
When choosing an underlying technology framework, they could be selecting one that is not acceptable to the enterprise customers requirements, such as stolen (improperly copyrighted or licensed) software. It could be fine for the unwitting smaller businesses but wouldn’t comply with your corporate customer’s standards.
If you’re creating a B2B digital product, it could also be that your customers want to run the software on their own server environments. If your development partner is using the latest trendy beta open source technology, they may have built something that can’t be used by a corporate client. You should know who you’re selling to, how it will be audited and hosted, so you can build to those very important “non-functional” requirements.
Overcomplicating your software
Your software development partner could assume that many key services are provided “out of the box” by a specific 3rd party software vendor, and build on top of that vendor’s product. For example, building on top of a CRM means that many custom features could become very expensive to automate because you’d be building on top of something expensive to work with and difficult to automate (costs of development tool licenses, cost of people with the skills in that vendor’s product, and the quality of development tools provided by that vendor).
Plus, integrations can add a lot of complexity that make scaling more difficult. Ironically, your development partner could have done this with scalability in mind, but it can be a blocker.
Use tried and true technology
You could also have blocked your scalability by building your software on some small proprietary solution framework. Sometimes your development team could be trying to incorporate a new piece of software from their own software house, building on incomplete, unproven black-box software solutions. Using a friend’s product and tools might not be the best for your product, even if they do seem most convenient at the time.
If you lock into one of these proprietary solutions, and can’t fix a problem that arises, you’ll get stuck. Development partners should be using tried and tested, popular solutions where you own the code and have a clear license to use and modify it.
3. Why is digital product scalability so important?
It’s important to make sure your product is scalable, but it’s better to focus on scalability when you need it. In developing any digital software, whether it’s B2B or directly for end-users, you should expect to run into scalability issues (see first section of this blog). Of course, scalability issues could be major, but they may not be costly to address.
Roadmaps are an important way to help you ensure your product will be scalable, but you don’t need your product to be scalable from day one. When working on your initial development, focus on your business goals and the issues immediately in front of you. Scaling doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it probably means your digital product is a success, and now you’re ready for the next step.
- Scalability issues could mean that you did an excellent job with your product roadmap, or that you’re unfortunately stuck with a legacy system that needs to be replaced (even if it’s new!)
- Scalability considerations for B2B products are not just about performance load testing
- Have a third party review your decisions. Your technical elements are too important to trust with a single team, you need perspectives
- Scalability issues might be major, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be costly to address
Scaling your digital product doesn’t need to be scary. Our years of experience mean we’ll be able to anticipate potential issues and help you solve them with our pragmatic business-minded approach to software development. Ask us how we can help you scale, or schedule a meeting with us on our website.