… and a little drywall. Apologies to our neighbours, the dust will settle and the smell will leave once the paint’s dry. Here on the 9th floor of 1 Yonge Street, our little software shop has expanded. We’ve taken down the wall dividing our two rooms, combining our space into one mega-code lair. The process was empowering. Knowing that we were growing because we needed to was exceptional. We had to make more room for more developers. More developers need more work. More work takes more customers. In the last nine months, we’ve seen more of each of those things. Swinging a drywall hammer through our dividing wall got me thinking, reflecting on the changes we’d made and the decisions that got us here. Nine months has flown by. I need to remember to slow down and enjoy this ride.
Hiring for fit
So we’ve grown. We started Q3 2012 with three full-time staff in our office, and a posse of remote software developers. Since that humble stageof business, we’ve jumped to sixteen full-time staff and a growing compliment of contractors quickly joining on full-time. Lance and I still shake our heads a little when we watch the hive of activity our office has become. It’s only been nine months. What did we just do? We need to do that again. It started with marketing. We found Rhys Mohun on LinkedIn and he’s writing content for us, designing the new website, planning our SEO strategy and even creating job descriptions for further hiring. Nahyan Chowdhury was close behind, taking on the task of market intelligence and has created for us market reports, sales opportunities, new tools, and a growing network of contacts along our lines of business and through the industry. And, of course, Rebeca our office administrator who keeps our office running smoothly and our heads screwed on straight. We call her Office Mom. Our other hires were developers. In a head-spinning four months, we welcomed six new code geniuses on board. Production has jumped through (what we thought was) a ceiling, and we’re off to our next stage of growth. Grant, Robyn, Terry, Shah, Trishan and Chris will join the rest of the team on Tuesdays, debating the best software tools and making a grab for the last Red Bull in the fridge. We have more, guys, relax.
Not hiring for unfit
While we’re always on the lookout for spectacular talent, we are wary of rushing the wrong developer into a job. In a business of our size, we simply can’t afford to hire the wrong person. The costs, both in time and money, outweigh the risk of missing the window for a particular developer hire. It’s nice to imagine a company where we hire developers like we pick apples from an orchard, but apples don’t require health benefits and a desk full of challenging work. Always try to avoid hiring the wrong person, even if it means hiring no-one at all.
Similarly, the decision not to hire a project manager at that time was easily one of the year’s hardest choices. We accepted résumés from a-hundred-and-fifty PMs and interviewed over a dozen candidates. Cracked a few eggs. Getting to know someone professionally and personally is a serious time commitment. We found two outstanding candidates, and they know who they are. (Hey, guys.) In fact, they were nearly perfect for the role – and that was our catch. The role itself didn’t fit. We had created a monster of a role and we were setting ourselves up for failure. We wanted too much from one employee. A senior project manager to learn the ropes, meet each customer, manage projects and tasks, resource allocation, customer expectations, account management, strategic planning, process development, and resource optimization. One person can’t do so much. What were we thinking? We’d put all of our project eggs in one basket, and were going to be dragging that poor basket pretty roughly through 2013.
Ultimately, instead of creating a mess, we opted to go the other way: build and refine our processes internally as a team, and then hire someone to step in and take the reins. We’ll say, here’s what we’d like you to help us with. Our company is successful because of the super-stars we hire, but also because we always take the time to learn how to do it right before jumping straight in. With that in mind, we’re now eager to welcome our new VP of Project Management in June. We’ve had some time to build our systems and processes together as a team, and came out of the conversation with a pristine, defined, challenging role for our newest member. See the difference? With the right milestones and processes, we should have no problem finishing the list of 2013 projects. Our new VP of Project Management will lessen the burden on the team as a whole, we will have fewer fires to extinguish and we’ll have less egg to clean up. The busted drywall everywhere is messy enough as it is. That’s on me, guys. Thanks for being the best team we could wish for, 3PT.
Code happy. Chris Mihalicz