It’s many businesses’ dream to realize the kind of sudden exponential growth we’ve come to think of as “scale,” but the ability to keep up with that newfound growth is just as important as the growth itself. Scalability – of people, practices, and products – is key to success. There are different ways in which an organization might scale up, but in every case, a combination of both solid practices and products is necessary in order to manage it.

What causes scale?

There are a few different factors that may lead to exponential growth – or scale – in an organization. We can break the causes of scale down into two categories: planned and unplanned. The nature of these scenarios differs, but in each case, reliable products that can support your teams as they manage scale is critical. The products your teams uses to build, collaborate, track work, and get things done are crucial in enabling them to support rapid growth.

Read on to learn about some of the common causes of scale and how flexible products and practices help teams manage that scale.

Planned: Mergers & Acquisitions

What 20 acquisitions taught us about post-merger integration

The M&A market has been strong for several years and continues to be a big driver of organizational growth. M&A can be tricky to handle, though, because of the need to integrate two different businesses with different cultures, practices, and processes into one and still realize the synergies expected from the deal.

We’re no strangers to this challenge at Atlassian, where we’ve acquired over 20 companies, including the recent additions of Halp and Mindville. We’ve learned from these experiences that significant thought and planning are required in order to make these transitions smooth. Doing due diligence – beyond just the traditional, financial kind – and learning about both organizations’ culture is critical for understanding how the two businesses can most effectively be integrated with one another.

It’s also important to consider the products and tools that both organizations use. As McKinsey points out, “a well-planned strategy for IT integration can help mergers succeed.” Mergers are an opportune moment to think about standardizing and consolidating the products your teams use. It’s also a time of uncertainty, given all the difficulty involved in successfully integrating, so it’s important to choose products that enable your teams to stay flexible and effectively handle any unforeseen bumps in the road.

Key product considerations during M&A

– Use this opportunity to standardize your products and consolidate your instances to realize efficiency gains and cost savings.
– Choose tools that can handle the scale of your new organization and will grow with you in the future.
– Standardize on products that you can customize to meet the needs of all teams

Planned: Expansion to new categories or geographies

Another way in which a company might achieve planned scale is by expanding to new customer segments, product categories, or geographies. This method, where a company “pushes out the boundaries of its core business into an adjacent space,” often results in the “most sustained, profitable growth,” according to Harvard Business Review.

Whether it’s Microsoft’s expansion into gaming with the Xbox or Apple’s foray into content creation with Apple TV+, companies frequently turn to category expansion as a way to achieve new growth. Likewise, with widespread globalization, most businesses have (or plan to) expanded their operations outside of the borders in which the organization was born.

In the case of these kinds of expansion, speed is key. Businesses must move quickly to beat competitors to market and establish their position. Moving with that kind of speed requires flexibility – in your practices, yes, but also in your products. You need reliable products that will allow you to support new teams of users as you expand, and enable those teams to work smartly and quickly as they carry out new initiatives.

Key product considerations during an expansion

– Choose products that can handle the scale of your current expansion and support you through future expansions as you add more team members.
– If you’re expanding to new geographies, make sure your products perform just as well for your teams in one location as they do for those in another.

Unplanned: External factors

Lastly, there are rarer and more unpredictable cases in which a company realizes growth and scale as a result of external factors outside of their control. The COVID-19 crisis is the perfect case study for this situation because it changed consumer habits in ways that were completely unforeseeable. As a result of these dramatic lifestyle changes, some businesses faced exponential growth. For example, more people turned to Zoom for communication, consumed beverages at home (thereby causing demand for aluminum cans to rise), and filled their free time with Netflix. Zoom, Ball Can Corp., and Netflix have all faced sudden, unplanned growth over the past several months.

The key to success in these situations is flexibility. When given an opportunity to grow like this, you don’t want your practices or your products to hold you back. It’s critical to have reliable and highly available products that can support your teams as they manage this newfound growth. You need to be prepared for whatever situations your organization may face by leveraging flexible products that will grow with you and allow your teams to rise to the occasion as they scale up.

Key product considerations for unplanned growth

– Make sure you can scale your products quickly and easily to support any growth that may come from unforeseen circumstances.
– Choose products that are reliable and highly performant so that your teams have uninterrupted access to their mission-critical tools to support the organization.

How Atlassian helps you manage scale

n each of these cases, solid team practices are necessary for success. Your teams need to be functioning, collaborating, and innovating properly in order to support and manage scale. But just as important – and often underestimated – are the products that your teams use to get things done. The tools your teams use are a critical piece of the puzzle in managing exponential growth. And your products need to be able to scale with you and allow you to move quickly and be flexible.

Atlassian’s cloud products are a great choice for scaling organizations. Supporting new users and staying performant – all while your teams manage new challenges – is simple with Atlassian cloud. And for those with business requirements that currently prevent a move to the cloud, check out Atlassian Data Center, our self-managed enterprise edition.

Why organizations scale