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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.”

 

It’s more than just a hallway.

September 6, 2018 started as a regular day at DevFacto, our employees slowly trickled-in and got about their days. Some crafted code, some designed beautiful and meaningful experiences for our clients, others dealt with finance, sales and marketing. That morning the weather was colder than usual in Edmonton, Alberta, the air was more fall-like than summer. We had had almost three weeks of air quality warnings from the fires burning in British Columbia and everyone was looking forward to clearer days or what my good friend Doug calls the 100 days of business: the days between the middle of September and the middle of December.

“It finally happened, you should write about it.” – Fernanda Badano, VP Delivery

September 6, 2018 seemed like a regular day until I received a text message from Fernanda Badano, our VP of Delivery Services, containing this image of our Edmonton office and the words,“It finally happened, you should write about it.” As I rushed between client meetings, the image initially looked just like our regular hallway so I put it aside and kept on with my day. However, a couple hours later it dawned on me: see…if you have been to our office in the past, you know that for the last seven years we had ¾ of the 22nd floor in Scotia Place. The picture from Fernanda showed a new hallway, a hallway that for the first time connected our old space to the rest of the floor. DevFacto now occupied the entire 22nd floor.

This was great news for our team since for the last four months our office has been very cramped as we welcomed 26 new DevFactonians to our company. The picture was also a testament to all the great work our team has accomplished, including years of dedication to our employees and our clients. This picture represented a growth milestone that we had never envisioned 11 years ago when we set out to create a company based on the following principles:

1. Happy Employees = Happy Customers.
2. Build Software that humans love to use.
3. Provide a WOW experience for our customers.

I want to thank everyone who has played a part in our journey, our employees, contractors, clients, advisors and partners. Thank you for being there and helping us through our growing pains.

We are excited to design this new space to match the rest of our award winning office and we will continue to plan our office space needs in Regina, Calgary and Toronto. Eventually, we would like to have our own campus, a place that we can design from the ground-up, that is as unique as the culture that keeps our employees excited to come to work every day.

In the meantime, we continue to focus on growing our Analytics (Business Intelligence) practice, innovate on the Sparrow Modern Workplace, deliver great experiences in our Custom Development practice, service our clients through our Managed Application Services practice, deliver world-class experiences in SharePoint and Office365 – so many things on our plate – we would not have it any other way. Our strategy is set and our team is executing.

Culture Counts: If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em!

DevFacto: 7 years, 100+ consultants and a 97% retention rate. How do we do it?

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My Life at DevFacto as an Intern – Week 1

I’ve never been in an office like this before, but then again, I’ve never worked in an office where its people came first before. Read more

QualityConf 2015

I had an amazing time at QUALITYCONF. I will jump at any chance to sketchnote some great topics from engaging speakers, and QUALITYCONF did not disappoint. This DevFacto event happened from March 27 to 29 at Stone Ridge Mountain Resort in Canmore Alberta. Read more

Live Sketchnoting @ UX Camp YEG

I was asked to live sketchnote UX Camp, a day of user experience presentations put on by UX Edmonton. Having sketchnoted UX Camp last year, as well as events like ‘Reimagining Shaw Conference Centre’ recently, my acceptance of invitations like this is pretty quick now. It is fast becoming something I love doing, regardless of the stress involved in drawing at speed in front of a large group of people. Read more

The Power of Investing in your Employees

In today’s highly-connected world, our employees and team members are faced with many distractions – from surfing the web and social media sites, the distractions of telecommuting, instant messaging and more. We are all expected to put in a full day’s work but measuring individual productivity can be difficult. While some organizations opt to ‘control’ their ecosystem through website blocking, monitoring of internet usage and other tactics, I believe that nothing drives accountability more than passion and investment. Read more

Working On-Site is as Awesome as You Are

I am just in the final stages of wrapping up a project where I worked with a client on-site for several months to deliver a solution.

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Don’t Get Stuck Thinking You’re Awesome

Occasionally I see software developers referring to themselves as “senior”. I don’t really like the use of this term too much as I believe it means nothing.

“Hi, I’m a senior developer”

All I heard was “hi”, then some other words, then “developer”. We don’t need to negotiate status.

Don’t get me wrong, seniority can mean a specific thing inside of an organization – maybe there are pay grades expected by a union or a specific set of expectations and responsibilities that can be divided into different roles. And for lack of creative job titles, we end up with things like analyst I/II/III, or junior/intermediate/senior developer.

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