Scaling Engineering @ Trustly
“Over the past year, Trustly has seen significant growth, both in Europe and North America, with North America now representing close to half of total group revenue compared to around one-fifth a year ago.”
— Johan Tjärnberg. Trustly CEO
Our Engineering team scaled in response to the growth of our North American business. But it is hard to remember how much the organization evolved in 2021.
How we started
At the end of Q1 2021, the Engineering Americas team had a total of 54 full-time employees in Brazil. Most of our current PMs and Engineering Managers had yet to join the company. Development workload was split between Financial Institution Connectors (FIC) and Core (“everything else”). Sprint planning for Core ran for multiple hours and included 20+ engineers.
Hiring Product Managers and Engineering Managers
By the end of Q2 2021, Engineering Americas grew to 68 full-time employees. During that quarter, most of our PMs and Engineering Managers joined the company. We recognized that we had to evolve how we planned and organized our work. As a result, we explicitly formed Product Development squads dedicated to Vector, Risk, and Payment Processors. This enabled us to separate our road mapping and planning activities into smaller, focused groups. And notably, DevSecOps (which includes IT Support, SecOps, DataOps, and DevOps) grew by 50% from the prior quarter.
Starting to achieve scale
At the end of Q3 2021, our Engineering organization increased by 33% to 90 full-time employees. We started to hire team members in Lisbon. We maintained the same Product squad alignment from the prior quarter, with sprint planning sessions for Vector, Risk, Payment Processors, FIC, and Core (backend + frontend). But due to our hiring growth, the Core team consisted of 20+ engineers, with roadmap definition shared across multiple PMs. We realized that we would need to adjust the organization again for more even further dedicated squads. The DevSecOps team grew by another 50% — but we hadn’t yet added managers to that part of the org.
Introducing Squads, Tribes, and Guilds
In evolving the Engineering team, we were inspired by the concepts of Squads, Tribes, and Guilds as described by Spotify. As we grew the Engineering team for the Americas, we adapted these concepts to align with the needs of our business.
At the highest level, we started considering the Engineering Americas team as two Tribes:
- Product Tribe: aligned to Product Management
- Technology Tribe: focus on Scalability, Reliability, Resilience, Security
Each of these high-level Tribes is a collection of Squads. Squads in the Product Tribe are co-led by a Product Manager (PM) and an Engineering Manager (EM). Squads in the Technology Tribe have their direction set by our CTO and our Architects.
We also have a QA & Automation squad that is a hybrid. Individual QA Engineers are embedded in Product squads, but Automation (and Release) services are provided to all squads.
Along with our evolution into multi-disciplinary Squads and higher-level Tribes, we also formally introduced Guilds into the organization — starting with a Front-End Guild and a Back-End Guild. Each of these Guilds provide connection, knowledge transfer, best practices, and consistency in how we develop across all Squads. Each Guild is directed by a hands-on Engineering lead (specifically NOT a Manager).
How it’s going
As of today, we are now a team of 109 full-time employees across Brazil, Portugal, and the US. Our team added new PM and Engineering Managers (including in DevSecOps). We realigned Engineering Americas into two high-level Tribes, each comprised of more granular squads.
We also established a Platform squad to focus exclusively on tech initiatives; this team will need to grow significantly in 2022.
Reflecting on an eventful 2021
- We doubled the Engineering team from 54 to 109 full-time employees.
- We expanded our team footprint to include: Brazil, Portugal, and the US.
- We evolved our road mapping and planning processes from two Product squads to eight Product squads, in alignment with PM areas of ownership.
- We formalized the idea of a Technology Tribe to dedicate Engineering resources for Scalability, Reliability, Security, and Resiliency.
I look forward to 2022, which will be a year of continued growth (and additional evolution) for the Trustly Americas Engineering team.