The F1 outfit finished a career-best fourth in the constructors’ championship in 2016, coming out on top of a season-long battle with Williams.
This season it has scored 101 points after 11 races, 27 more than its tally at this point last season, to leave it a clear fourth place in the constructors’ standings.
However, Force India trails Red Bull, the third-placed team, by 83 points and is 256 points behind table-topping Mercedes.
“We’ve got our next steps mapped out already,” Szafnauer told Autosport.
“Somebody asked me the other day, ‘Now that your fourth to challenge in the top three how are you going to grow in terms of personnel?’
“We’re now near 400 and we should go to 425-430 and those people that we hire, we know what positions they are.
“We are only going to hire them if we find the right people, it’s not just the matter of hiring to hire.
“We’ve got to put the infrastructure in place and then we know where we need to hire.
“We’re not going to rush to get there, we think it’s more important to have the right people.”
Szafnauer hopes Force India can strengthen its position as the fourth-best team on the grid in the event F1 bosses reduce costs or distributes revenues in a more even way in the future.
“If we start looking at capping either costs or through regulation, or making it a little bit more even I think we’re nicely placed, especially if some of the big teams have to become smaller,” he said.
“And if that doesn’t happen then our march forward is always to say ‘here we are in fourth, what’s it going to take to try to fight these guys for third’ and then take small steps towards that every year.
“We’ve got those improvement plans and we’re putting them into place.
“We can, on the smallest budget, do a decent job from a performance perspective and with a little bit more budget we can do an even better job.
“So if the distribution changes a bit, that should help us, and if the costs are kept down a bit that should help us.”