A few days ago, something caught my eye as I passed the desk of our Senior Product Manager, Jenae Wiegert. Stuck to the wall was a list of bands with accompanying dates listed next to them. She was in a meeting at the time, so I offered to whoever was listening, “Wow! Jenae has quite the concert lineup planned this summer.” As I scanned the page and came across dates next to “Abba” and “Beastie Boys,” I soon realized that the list wasn’t that of tour dates, but of upcoming PaySimple software deployments.
So far, during my time at PaySimple, our releases have been named after Colorado micro-brews in an A-Z order. But, after our Zion Canyon release in April, our developers had to move on to something new, and chose 80s bands – starting with Abba, Beastie Boys, The Cure, and Duran Duran.
However strange it may seem to refer to Beastie Boys in a product roadmap meeting, our technology team has a clear-cut attitude about PaySimple product releases. In order to ensure our monthly deployments go smoothly, the team has to have an immense amount of coordination and follow methodic testing processes. They are currently on DiMaggio-esque streak of 48 consecutive deployments without a rollback.
Recently, John Cecil of Savvis, a tier-one data center that’s part of the backbone of cloud-based hosting, took notice of PaySimple’s efficiency by sponsoring our Chief Technology Officer, Sherri Hammons, to speak at the 3rd annual Colorado IT Symposium.
In her session, Sherri explained the way in which her small team of engineers provides receivables automation to thousands of businesses by sticking to the tenets of adaptability, collaboration and empowerment.
“Businesses need fast results, so we, as engineers, need to be able to recognize and adapt to change,” Sherri explained. “We can’t go back to the business folks and say, ‘that’s going to take us two years to complete.’”
She went on to explain that part of adaptability is the willingness to make changes in what you’re doing today so you can be more successful tomorrow. “You don’t want to get into a pattern of reactive mode. If you’re continually reacting, you’re not really getting ahead – you’re just stomping out the fires.”
PaySimple’s track-record of zero rollbacks (and the subsequent rarity of service interruptions for our customers) is a testament to this forward-thinking philosophy that the engineering team employs.
The collaboration and empowerment tenets that Sherri spoke to are closely related. Her goal is to empower her team to speak up, take risks, and bounce ideas off one another.
“We post-mortem everything,” she explained. “That’s when we find if the process isn’t working. We go over what you did right and what you did wrong – and it’s not a bad thing – we leave the emotions out of it.”
The post-mortem huddles allow the team to set any frustrations aside during the frenzy of the deployment, because each member knows they will have their say in the scheduled discussion following the release.
During these sessions, they know to check their egos at the door. It can be hard to put your heart and soul into a project just to have someone tear it apart, but they understand that as long as the criticism is constructive, it’s key to the success of PaySimple.
Leaders at organizations of any size would agree that the ability to adapt, collaborate, and empower is vital. Everyone at the company must be bought-in, especially key management, and it has to be engrained in the culture to work. Of course, once this happens, everything becomes more fun.
I appreciate our tech team’s good sense of humor, and look forward to seeing what 80s bands we can come up with to represent E through Z. Any ideas?