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17 December 2015 

The Golden Ratio between Product, R&D, Design and QA

Boaz Katz

The Golden Ratio refers to the proportionality of natural objects. We’re inspired by nature’s Golden Ratio, and so as a startup company we always try to find the Golden Ratio between different roles to make our company the most efficient and effective.

We noticed at Bizzabo that it becomes very hard to follow the ratio and balance it as the company grows. Maintaining a the Golden Ratio was much easier for us as a small company where you can collaborate  it out quickly and easily in order to find balance.  

What’d we do in order to find that balance again? We split our company into houses/squads (aka the “Spotify model”).  Each house is a “mini company” that can work independently. This allows us to balance the ratio between Product, Design, R&D and QA. By keeping the Ratio right in each house, we get a company that fulfills the Golden Ratio.

What is the exact ratio anyway? There is no right answer and it is highly dependent on several factors like quality of personnel, company lifecycle stage, and company goals.  In our case, the structure of each house is as follows:  Product manager (house owner), two front end developers, one server developer and one designer (we do not hold a dedicated QA at Bizzabo at all, but this is for another post).

This structure allow each house to work closely and be responsible for the product delivery end to end, from grooming ideas to production.  It also results in no shared resources and better collaboration as you are closely familiar with the people you work with.

As Bizzabo evolves, we keep asking ourselves if the product ratio is right.  A lot of other companies manage to pull off higher ratios for Product Manager compared to R&D, meaning for each Product person they have 5-9 developers (Fiverr for example).

For us another key element of our Ratio is creating a lot of quiet time for the teams. I find that if we are able to provide a lot of “quiet” time to deep dive into each feature we get our feature-market-fit nailed down earlier as we have the time to invest in research, tests and customer feedback on interactive demos.

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