As Product Orgs Grow, So Do Team Structures and Strategies

Leaders from GoHealth and SMS Assist explain how product team growth can fuel organizational and strategic transformation.
Written by Olivia McClure
February 23, 2022Updated: February 23, 2022

Working at GoHealth has shown vice president of product management Araba Appiagyei-Dankah just how complex significant growth can be for the business. 

From a product perspective, company-wide change can cause teams and strategies to transform. While the health insurance platform expanded its scope and improved its documentation and processes in response to scaling, Appiagyei-Dankah’s team underwent its own alteration. 

“The product management team decided to align more closely with key business functions, including marketing, sales and retention,” Appiagyei-Dankah said. “This positioned the team to more effectively enable business strategies by putting us closer to our partners, customers and licensed sales agents.”

Growth-induced restructuring doesn’t just come down to how a team is positioned within an organization. In an effort to drive collaboration at property maintenance platform provider SMS Assist, Chief Product Officer Kevin McDunn and his peers redefined the team’s strategies by getting employees from other departments involved in sprints and hackathons. In this sense, scaling became an avenue for innovation. 

“Events such as our hackathons motivate team members to think outside of the box. We’ve already incorporated three ideas generated during these brainstorming sessions into our product roadmap,” McDunn said.  

Built In Chicago caught up with Appiagyei-Dankah and McDunn to discover what happens when product org growth causes shifts in team structure and strategy. 


Araba Appiagyei-Dankah
Vice President of Product Management


What is the size and structure of GoHealth’s product management team?

Our expanding product management team currently includes 10 individuals. The team is organized across three areas to align with the primary pillars of our business: marketing, sales and retention. Our product managers are responsible for the various products that support each of these business functions.


How has your team’s structure changed during the life of the company? 

GoHealth has gone through amazing growth in a short period of time, which has led to increased business complexity. We’ve expanded our scope beyond member acquisition driven by marketing and sales in order to invest in member retention activities. To manage this increased complexity, we improved our documentation and processes in order to ensure the level of communication and collaboration we had at a smaller stage carries forward as we scale. 

To manage increased complexity, we improved our documentation and processes.”

What effect will continued growth have on the organization?

As GoHealth’s offerings expand to ensure better health outcomes for all our members, our products will become more complex and require greater focus. I anticipate the number of business pillars will grow and we will have more specialized roles focused on AI and platform solutions as our organization and product offerings evolve. 





What is the size and structure of SMS Assist’s product management team?

Our product team has expanded by more than 25 percent since 2019. We’ve structured the team to prioritize collaboration and autonomy as we grow, and we have a product vision to make each experience for our customers better than the last one. 

Our department is composed of several scrum teams, each with its own charter that is aligned with the company’s overall strategy. Working alongside product managers to deliver on their charters every two weeks, these teams continually introduce new ideas in an effort to improve our core product. Each team prioritizes internal and external stakeholders’ goals to ensure we deliver the best possible user experience. The company focuses on continuous improvement, and our current product investments are intended to build that value into our platform. As we continue growing, our succinct, empowering vision will keep everyone moving in the same direction.


How have departmental strategies changed during the life of the company? 

SMS Assist has always invested heavily in product research and development. Over the past three years, we’ve emphasized Agile methodology over software delivery. We invite employees from other teams to participate in our two-week sprints, giving them the chance to review what we’ve built and offer their input on upcoming projects. During the last two years, we’ve hosted our annual Big Idea Fest, a three-day hackathon that enables employees to collectively brainstorm new product ideas. 

The company has grown alongside our product department. We have countless new team members join the company each year, bringing fresh ideas and perspectives with them. 

We’ve structured the team to prioritize collaboration and autonomy as we grow.”

How is your department structured to handle growth and support the company’s overall success?

Our scrum teams are designed to scale. These teams are empowered to independently deliver value so that leaders can focus on fulfilling strategic goals and ensuring synergy among teams. 

In addition to our company-wide strategy, our research, design, testing and validation process will help us deliver excellent products and accomplish great things in 2022. We plan to double the size of our department and work, and we’re currently hiring for product managers, UX professionals and software engineers. 



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