DevFacto Recognized as a Top Nintex Partner for Customer Success

DevFacto is proud to announce that we have been shortlisted as a finalist for the 2020 Nintex Partner Awards in the category of Customer Success.

This nomination is a true reflection of the value that DecvFacto has been able to deliver to its clients across Canada and around the world. In partnership with Nintex, we look forward to continuing to help organizations of all sizes, in every industry, improve the automation of business processes.

Winners will be announced on July 14th, 2020.

Learn more about why we love working with Nintex.

About Nintex

Nintex is the global standard for process management and automation. Today more than 8,000 public and private sector clients across 90 countries turn to the Nintex Platform to accelerate progress on their digital transformation journeys by quickly and easily managing, automating and optimising business processes. Learn more by visiting www.nintex.com and experience how Nintex and its global partner network are shaping the future of Intelligent Process Automation (IPA)

DevFacto Community Foundation: Software Innovation for Charities

We’re excited to announce the start of the DevFacto Community Foundation, a program that connects talented young developers with not-for-profit organizations to create software solutions that make a difference. Through the foundation, we want to help our local communities innovate the best way we know how – by building software that humans love to use.

The DevFacto Community Foundation works in two ways: it offers promising developers a chance to hone their skills while working on a real-world projects, and it helps not-for-profits fulfill their mission with modern tools and apps. The foundation has already completed its pilot project and released the first mobile app called Missions. The app was built in partnership with the Edmonton Skills Society and Lethbridge-based Southern Alberta Community Living Association (SACLA), two not-for-profits that help people with disabilities experience meaningful lives as valued citizens.

Here is a snapshot of what Missions looks like:

Missions App Demo

A bit of history

For the last twelve years, we have supported numerous charities in our communities. We fundraised, donated and contributed employee time to numerous causes which include United Way, Stollery Children’s hospital, and Movember Foundation.

Over the years, we noticed that charities have a hard time keeping up with technology. In particular, they struggle with building custom solutions, apps and portals that empower their missions and enable unique experiences for their sponsors and supporters. Charities cannot afford standard consulting rates, and even at a discount the amount of money spent on a software solution is hardly justifiable when faced with other priorities. As one of Canada’s premier consulting companies, we wanted to empower charities through technology. As it turns out, almost by happenstance, we might just have found the way to do it.

Putting skills to a good use

Young developers rarely get the opportunity to apply their hard skills in real-life projects. They know how to code, but they lack the experience that comes from designing and building enterprise-grade solutions. Applying project methodology or mastering communication and teamwork can’t be fully taught in a classroom setting. But without that know-how, it can be difficult for developers to progress their skills.

At the same time, there is a strong demand for modern tools and technology among not-for-profits that look to support local communities in new ways. They want to leverage software and mobile applications to reach those in need of help. While custom built solutions can bring these organizations closer to their communities, limited budgets often stand in the way of achieving this goal.

Aware of these challenges, we wanted to make a difference in a meaningful way, and we found just the way to do it.

High school students build an app

While judging a Skills Canada competition, Matt Waggoner, one of our star developers, met some highly capable highschoolers. Ben Lehmann and Shashank Bhat, Grade 11 and Grade 12 students at the time, who took the top spots at Skills Canada were certainly ready for the next challenge.

You may already know that here at DevFacto we’re seriously committed to empowering the next generation of software developers and we even run a co-op program in partnership with the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary. However, as high school students, Ben and Shashank, wouldn’t qualify for it.

So, when Matt got back to the office the following Monday, he knew there was something he could do. With the support from DevFacto, he set out to find the right project for the students to work on. He connected with SACLA and Skills Society, two not-for-profits who were looking to build a mobile app that helps people with disabilities fully explore their community.

Under Matt’s watchful eye, Ben and Shashank spent their summer at DevFacto developing Missions, an app that makes it fun for people with disabilities to discover new interests and build a sense of inclusion with their community. Users select missions from a list of specially pre-designed activities and then complete them with their families or allies. The app offers them a chance to explore exciting things to do in their neighbourhoods and to reflect on their experiences. Skills Society and SACLA will use Missions app to empower people with disabilities and help them achieve their individual goals.

See a complete demo of user functionality in Missions:

DevFacto Community Foundation: how does it work?

The DevFacto Community Foundation offers not-for-profits a chance to build custom applications at a fraction of the cost. Talented young developers do the coding while seasoned DevFacto consultants manage and guide their work. As DevFacto, we provide methodology, on-going mentoring, and project management throughout the engagement. We also closely guide the students to ensure that the final product meets the business needs of our not-for-profit partners.

All the proceeds from the project go exclusively towards student’s wages. DevFacto offers its services pro-bono. In the future, any money left from the projects delivered by the foundation will be put towards a scholarship fund for students who participated in the program. We trust that this will further support young developers and encourage them to pursue education in STEM fields.

And now, the good stuff! DevFacto Community Foundation will build more apps in 2020. If you represent a registered charity that needs a consumer-grade application, we would love to hear from you. Let’s find a way to empower your organization with technology – get in touch.

The DevFacto Internship Experience

For several years now, we’ve been running a co-op program in partnership with the University of Alberta and University of Calgary. In that time, we’ve had the chance to mentor many bright and talented students from the departments of computing science and computer engineering who chose to kick-start their careers with an internship at DevFacto. Curious to know what an internship in software consulting and product development is like? Read on to learn what some of our recent and current co-op students have to say about their internship experience. You can also access our current co-op postings on PlacePro (UofA) and CareerLink (UofC).

Co-op students Darren Tran and Anas Mohamed attending DevFacto’s 2019 QualityConf

Darren Tran

Darren is a Computer Engineering, Software Option student at the University of Alberta and a bit of a fitness fanatic. He has just finished his eight-month long internship at DevFacto.

Why did you choose DevFacto for your co-op internship?

I wanted to get the most of my co-op experience and searched for opportunities at software consulting companies. The thing that stood out to me the most about DevFacto was the emphasis on employee happiness — and from what I have experienced here, it definitely holds true!

What kinds of projects have you worked on at DevFacto?

I’ve worked on a couple of different projects, the most interesting one so far is a game portal for a high-profile corporate client the name of which our marketing team won’t let me share. Essentially, the project is made up of four elements: a website, an admin site, a trivia game (which will be part of the website) and a back-end to support it all. The game drives visitors to the website, the central hub with information about the products our client is selling. Visitors will get to play games to earn rewards and win prizes.

One of the things I enjoyed the most about this internship is being able to work with brand new technologies that I have never been exposed to before. For example in my last project, I worked on the back-end with AWS and Serverless.

What skills did you get to develop and practice during your internship?

On the technical side of things, I have learned new programming languages, frameworks and libraries – React, Typescript, Serverless just to name a few. I have also learned to work with others in the agile/scrum process. In terms of soft skills, I feel like I learned how to better communicate my ideas with other project members. Having a daily stand up with the team opens communication and helps us keep track of the tasks between team members.

Can you share your favorite DevFacto experience so far?

Definitely Friday beer o’clock to wrap up the week! Aside from that, meeting and learning from all the amazing people around the office has been invaluable.

Anas Mohamed

Anas is a Computing Science student at University of Alberta and he’s currently completing an eight-month internship at DevFacto. When he’s not working with computers, he’s picking up new hobbies. His newest one is learning Japanese.

Why did you choose DevFacto for your co-op internship?

The biggest appeal of an internship is the experience. With that in mind, I chose DevFacto because I felt assured that there would be no lack of volume or variety in the experience that I would gain.

What has been the most interesting project that you have worked on so far?

Beacon, for sure. Beacon is an internal project focused on rebuilding a tool called TechRadar. The tool was used for discussing various tech DevFacto teams wanted to adopt, avoid, etc. In simple terms, it’s a website we use internally to discover, discuss and recommend tech. What made this project the most interesting one, is being able to witness and participate in the discovery process. We researched why the previous tool failed, what is the purpose of the new tool, and how it’s going to be used. The knowledge and skills I gained from this process, I feel, are hard to come by as a student.

What skills did you get to develop and practice during your internship?

I learned more about full stack web development, database management, and had my first encounters with agile project management as well as UI and UX. I also got to work with a wide variety of teams. Those experiences taught me how to handle working with remote team members, how to collaborate, and most importantly how to communicate (the answer is: often!). Too much communication, I found, is much better than too little.

Can you share your favorite DevFacto experience so far?

Best experience by far has been consistently uttering the same sentence, “Wow, I did not know/think of that”. Almost every day, I’m humbled by the experience and resourcefulness of the people that I work with.

University of Calgary co-op student Alexa Astorino

Alexa Astorino

Alexa is a software engineering student at the University of Calgary and currently completing her internship on DevFacto’s product development team. She discovered her passion for software after attending her first coding class at the university. Her interests go well beyond coding. She has impressive soccer skills and has been playing competitive soccer since she was 5 years old.

Why did you choose DevFacto for your co-op internship?

I chose DevFacto for my co-op internship because through the course of my job search, DevFacto was the only company I felt wanted to take me on not only because they valued my skills, but because they valued me as a person. I had the pleasure of interviewing with David (DevFacto’s CTO) and Zana (Talent Specialist), and I remember feeling very excited that they believed in what I could do, especially as a student, right off the bat. Something that really stood out to me was their desire to find someone that fit with DevFacto’s culture and team, so this was another deciding factor for me.

What kinds of projects have you worked on at DevFacto?

So far at DevFacto, my time has been spent on team Sparrow [Sparrow is an employee engagement platform and Devfacto’s flagship product]. I have been working on improving and adding brand new features to our Administration Portal. This includes contributions to the User Interface, Analytics, User Management and Post Management. We have a big release coming soon that we are all very excited about. Having my teammates by my side has really made working on Sparrow that much better.

What skills did you get to develop and practice during your internship?

In only 4 months here, I’ve developed so many new skills and improved upon existing ones as well. On the technical side, I have learned 4 completely new coding languages and become familiar with new database services. Additionally, I’ve been able to improve my time management and organization skills as I’ve gotten used to the concept of sprints. I’ve also improved my communication and teamwork skills significantly by constantly asking questions, which was very nerve racking in the beginning, and tackling daily problems or bugs with my coworkers.

Can you share your favorite DevFacto experience so far?

My favourite experience so far has been QualConf 2019 and the Summer Party. QualConf [DevFacto’s internal semiannual conference] allowed me to leave with new ideas regarding UX thanks to Figma 101 workshop, important knowledge of security from Web App Security Basics, and an understanding of personal branding. It was really fun and exciting not only to meet and get to know so many people across all of our regions, but also to learn from them during workshops and talks. I was able to bond with people I always hear about in the office and learn about their experiences at DevFacto. It was also a great chance to catch up with the Edmonton interns.

Co-op students Ben Ripka, Anas Mohamed and Jack Xia at a ski trip with fellow DevFactonians

Jack Xia

Jack is studying a Computing Science at the UofA and currently completing his internship at DevFacto. He’s a huge Pink Floyd fan.

Why did you choose DevFacto for your co-op internship?

The culture. DevFacto values people most.

What has been the most interesting project that you have worked on so far?

It was definitely a live auction portal. What makes it different from other projects is that it’s a real-time application, which means that users get real time and up-to-date notifications every time the state of an auction changes. My role involved developing new features for the site.

What skills did you get to develop and practice during your internship?

I gained considerable experience in full stack development – I developed for front-end and back-end and deployed apps to the server. In addition to the hard skills, I also learned how to effectively communicate with other developers and project managers and how to resolve problems.

What has been your best experience at DevFacto so far?

My favorite thing is that I can always get mentorship from experienced developers. Curtis has helped me all along this internship.

Co-op student Zach Drever at 2019 QualityConf

Benjamin Ripka

Ben is a Computer Engineering student at the UofA. Whatever free time he’s got, he spends it outdoors hiking, biking and snowboarding.

Why did you choose DevFacto for your co-op internship?

Consulting seemed to me as one of the best ways to get hands-on experience in the software development industry. I figured it would provide contextual examples of how software systems are created, used and maintained in businesses. Specifically, I decided on DevFacto because the people seemed fantastic and I thought the company culture would be a fit for me. I was right.

What has been the most interesting project that you have worked on so far?

My most significant project during this internship has been an end-to-end testing system I designed and developed for a webapp used by thousands of people every day. Our client has an in-house QA team that performs frequent manual regression testing to make sure all the features are up and running. This gets quite costly, and so they hired my team to automate the process.

I had a lot of autonomy on this project which lead to a massive increase in both my confidence and understanding of software systems. Through the process I also gained many new skills such as C#, .NET Core, NUnit, Selenium, React and Specflow.

What skills did you get to develop and practice during your internship?

First and foremost, I’ve built a set of skills required to work with cross-disciplinary teams. This includes skills like version control (git), sprint planning, demos, and general communication. Second, I’ve picked up more technical skills with C#, Javascript, .NET, React, etc. than I could have ever hoped for!

What has been your best experience at DevFacto so far?

My best experience at DevFacto would have to be the Beer O’Clocks after work on Fridays. It’s when all of DevFacto (or most) get together in the lounge for some drinks and snacks to hangout and play games after a full weeks’ work.  It is the perfect environment to get to know everyone and talk about everything from the weekend plans, to passions, to career goals, etc. I’ll never forget the feeling of such a lively bunch all jammed into the kitchen!

 

 

It’s more than just a meeting room.

You may have heard that we’ve been renovating our Edmonton office. Thankfully, the construction is done and we’re finally ready for the big reveal! And while there are plenty of interesting new features in our newly expanded office, there’s one space I’m most excited about: our new Ideation room.

What’s Ideation, you might ask, and why does it require a dedicated space? Come to think of it, why would someone get excited about a meeting room? The answers to these questions lay in the process of great software design.

Over the years of building award-winning software, we came to a realization that there’s a piece missing from a typical application development project. Time and time again, we saw businesses arrive with an established idea of what they needed, only to realize once the project was complete, that their new, beautiful, functional solution didn’t quite propel the organization forward. It became clear to us that standard requirements gathering sessions are rarely enough to really understand the problems any business is facing. All the focus on features, functionality, and technology causes people to overlook what’s really important: user satisfaction and tangible value to the organization. Our customers needed a better way to translate real-world pains into solutions that made a difference. They needed solutions that humans would love to use.

So, instead of gathering requirements we flipped the model and we began hunting for the root causes behind them. We based our approach on our shared experiences and drew inspiration from the Design Thinking and Service Design methodologies. This led us to developing an Ideation workshop, a process that’s become a foundation for our customer’s success.

What is Ideation?

At DevFacto, Ideation is a collaborative process we use to facilitate our customers’ innovative thinking and problem solving. It helps us uncover the ideal solution through a series of exercises that shift the perception of the challenges at hand. Through a mix of convergent and divergent techniques it explores opportunities and reveals the hidden value within any organization. And by bringing cross-functional teams together, it encourages collaboration and idea-sharing without long, drawn out meetings.

As cognitive science proves, humans are hardwired to think convergently. When faced with a challenge, we want to come up with a single, well-established, logical answer. We constantly narrow down the options until we arrive at the right solution. Once we have it, we head straight to executing. Any alternative solutions that were discovered in the process end up discarded.

While that is a great approach for hacking away at day-to-day tasks, it doesn’t encourage meaningful change in an organization nor allow for innovative thinking. When we go straight from the perceived problem to the seemingly obvious solution, we skim over pain points and miss perspectives that can fundamentally alter our vision for the future.

Our ideation process disrupts the typical approach to solving problems by bringing people together and affording them the chance to think collaboratively in different modes while driving alignment around the most powerful ideas.

Over the years, Ideation has helped our clients realize numerous benefits  – from experimenting and testing ideas before setting them in motion, to reimagining user experience, boosting customer satisfaction, and cracking new markets.

Software Ideation Session

Why do we need an Ideation room?

Meetings, deservedly, have a bad rep and the typical conference room design only escalates this problem. Large conference tables lower meeting engagement, while poor flow discourages collaboration – both of which are critical to creativity and innovative thinking. We are creatures of our environments far more often than we think. Which is why a new approach to the space is so powerful. We wanted to create a space that transforms the mindset and inspires fresh ideas. One that changes the expected meeting dynamic and gets everyone active, working, and exploring. By setting the stage for ambitious collaboration, our ideation room does just that.

We’ve built it with creative, brainstorming sessions in mind, so it’s is full of light and bright workable space. Writable surfaces all around the room facilitate idea sharing, while standing-height desks help get people moving and collaborating. Although the typical conference room fare – long conference table and chairs – is gone, we kept some uber-comfortable high stools to maximize accessibility. And because Ideation sessions can get quite intense, we’ve added a lounge area just outside the room so that the participants can recharge when it’s time to take a break.

Just last week, I facilitated my first workshop in the new space with one of our clients that’s looking to deliver a WOW experience to their end-users. Being a part of an Ideation workshop held in a space designed to foster empathy and common understanding among teams was eye-opening to everyone involved. We saw inspiring ideas spring to life but also witnessed a diverse, cross-functional team come together in an unexpected way. For this group, looking at a business problem in a new way, in a completely different type of environment brought results that went beyond what we could anticipate.

Powerful ideas are just around the corner, and sometimes a special kind of meeting in an entirely different space is just what’s needed to find them.

We’re Launching a Sabbatical Program to Help DevFactonians Grow

When David, Ransel and I set out to design a different type of company over twelve years ago, we were all young and naive. We knew what we liked and disliked about our past employers, and we were driven to create a different kind of work environment: one with a great, constantly evolving culture and a lot of flexibility. As our first joint decision at DevFacto, we came up with a simple mission statement, or rather a simple mathematical equation (since the three of us are geeks): “Happy Employees = Happy Customers”. This equation has stood the test of time and has been our guiding beacon ever since.

Years later, it isn’t just a nice-sounding catch phrase. It’s how we work. In fact, we continuously measure employee happiness and client happiness. We take this so seriously that our executive team’s compensation is closely tied to these two metrics.

To keep our employees happy, we look after their well-being in many different ways. And while the list of our perks and benefits is vast and fairly unique, we felt it lacked something to reward our longest-serving staff. The ones who have been with us for many years, doing great work for our clients and pushing us to get better along the way. The smart, talented and loyal employees that most CEOs dream about. The kind of people that recruiters call me about to express how frustrating it is to try to “poach” them from DevFacto. We owe our success to them. Although we don’t believe in rewarding roles based on tenure, we wanted to celebrate and honour employees who have been with us for a long time. So, after some conversations with our amazing staff we came up with the concept of “Discovery Days”.

“Discovery Days” is a two- or four-week fully paid sabbatical, duration of which depends on the length of service with the company. It’s main purpose? Expand the employee’s horizons as a human being. Employees that qualify, apply for the program by sharing what they will do with the time and how it will take them outside of their comfort zone. It doesn’t need to be extreme, although it very well could be. Anything goes, as long as it meets the following criteria:

  1. You will do something that will help you grow as a person.
  2. You will document the journey and share it with the team via a Pecha Kucha talk.

The program has launched, and the initial reception has been great. I can’t wait to learn about our employees’ adventures and if you’re as curious as I am, be sure to keep an eye on our social media profiles where our marketing team will be sharing these journeys in the upcoming weeks/months. After all, personal growth and self discovery enrich the entire community and not just the individual.

And who knows, maybe we will end up rewriting that simple equation to “Happy Employees + Discovery Days = Delighted Customers.”

 

Empowering women in tech one executive lunch at a time

Earlier this year, we held a large meeting at DevFacto with around 20 attendees in our main conference room. Our CEO, Chris Izquierdo, was running a little late and joined us a few minutes after the start of the meeting. As he walked into the room filling it with his larger than life personality, he looked around and declared with much surprise, “Wow, all dudes!” Up until that moment, I hadn’t even realized that the only woman in the room was me.

To be honest, has he not mentioned it, I probably wouldn’t have noticed this at all. I have been in the IT consulting industry long enough to get used to having few women around. However, Chris’ remark got me thinking about my team and the rest of the women at DevFacto. How did they feel about being the only females in a meeting? How did it affect their experience at DevFacto? Could we be missing important insights because they weren’t in that room? It was clear that, as female DevFactonians, we needed a forum to share our experiences – one where we could learn from each other, encourage each other and to push each other to be drivers of change. With that, an idea for Women at DevFacto was born.

Our group was very informal at the beginning, with get-togethers at somewhat loud restaurants and an agenda that two good friends of mine – who also happened to be two of the wiser businesswomen I know – helped me put together based on their experiences. After a couple of meetings, our group has evolved into a Women at Devfacto Series, with female leaders coming to our offices to share their insights with us. The first guest we hosted was Kelli Littlechilds, CEO of Alberta School Employee Benefit Plan (ASEBP), whose visit was a smashing success because of her candor, warmth, and willingness to share her learnings from more than 30 years working in the health benefits industry. We left that meeting reenergized, excited and ready to immediately start planning our next session. The positive energy was so contagious that several of our male colleagues (including the CEO) stopped by to say, “I will put you in touch with so-and-so – she would be a great guest for the Women at DevFacto Series.” Suffice to say, the outlook for our group is fantastic.

Today, women make up slightly over 20% of our team at DevFacto, which is a huge step from where we were five years ago, or even at the beginning of this year. We continue to recruit and hire amazing women and men to join our company, and we are already planning what the Women at DevFacto Series will look like in 2019. There is still plenty to be done, but one of the things that makes me most proud of DevFacto is that we truly live out our company values always remembering to care for our team and to constantly keep improving. Women at DevFacto group is certainly a proof of that.

Hello Toronto, it’s great to see you!

The DevFacto team is thrilled to announce that we are expanding our presence in Central Canada with the official opening of our newest office in Toronto!  Read more