Geosoft: Software Development Manager

May 18, 2012

Geosoft is looking for a Software Development Manager:

  • Day to day management of the Software Development and Project Management teams (both in Canada and the US.)  This includes accountability for team performance, goals, metrics and best practices.
  • Anticipate, change, implement, and continually evolve industry leading software development processes to meet future business, technology and customer needs.  The successful candidate will be responsible for Geosoft’s transformation into agile (including change management).
  • Contribute as a senior R&D team member to define and achieve on group goals, metrics and plans to support business priorities.
  • Accountable for the planning and successful completion of all software development projects to ensure timely and successful product releases, working closely with the Product Management team and customer facing personnel to ensure that standards and processes are continuously aligned with customer requirements.

It looks like Geosoft has been around for a while. They seem to be privately held, so I don’t know much about the company’s financial situation.

The Good
It’s a relatively clear and posting. It’s not vague, there are lots of honest details there that some companies would have obscured because they think job postings shouldn’t have those kinds of details. Those people are wrong. That’s what makes this job posting interesting.

It’s also a reasonably senior position.  There’s some travel opportunity, but not so much as to be irritating.  You can get a look at their software products from their website.  They were apparently “recognized in 2009 as one of the 10 Best Workplaces in Canada by the Great Place to Work® Institute”.

They’re interested in moving towards agile development.

The Bad
They may not already be doing any agile development. This isn’t the nineties anymore, or the aughts for that matter. What’s their current process like?

YMMV
Your mileage may vary when it comes to the team size. Some people looking for a managerial position are going to feel like they’ll be under-utilized managing eight direct reports. Others will probably prefer the sound of a small team, as long as the team members are sharp. I probably lean towards the latter, but the devil’s in the details.

I get the sense that their business is more in the desktop software side than the web side, which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Then again, I could just as easily write the reverse.

What Should You Ask?
You’re going to want to get a good read on the team. After all, you’re supposed to manage them, and the difference between managing a small crack team and a small team of code monkeys is vast.

What’s their process like? Are the team members pushing for agile or being pushed into it? What’s their knowledge of agile and what’s the executive support for it? They’re saying they want to move, but what’s the drive here, and how important is it to them?

Where are the two remote team members? Why do they have remote team members, and is it working well?

How’s the company doing? Why do they need to hire a software development manager now? What’s the compensation like?

What’s their mix of software and technology like? Is it mostly desktop, is there a lot of web / integration work? It’s hard to get a sense of that from their website and posting.  Is it all C/C++, or .NET, or something else entirely?

The Location
GeoSoft seems to be located in Queen’s Quay Terminal. It’s a nice place, picturesque, not tremendously far from Union station, so reasonably accessible by TTC, not hard to drive to (although parking options aren’t great). There’s a few nice restaurants and shops in the area, although it’s not overflowing with either. If you live on the waterfront or near the gardiner/lakeshore, this is probably an appealing location. For the rest of you, it’s probably neither fantastic nor terrible.  If you do take the job, I recommend visiting the Harbourfront Pearl for dim sum regularly to get both a decent view and a decent meal. And while you’re at it, invite me, because I like that restaurant.

In Summary
It’s a reasonably senior position with a moderate team size, so it’s probably a good fit for someone who’s got just enough experience for the role, or for someone who really likes the smaller teams rather than a veteran used to and expecting something larger.


Garner: Sr. Software Developer

May 9, 2012

Garner (websitelinkedin) is looking for a Sr. Software Developer:

You are proficient in at least Java, JavaScript and SQL. You have several years of experience developing server side business logic and web-based GUI components. You are familiar with Agile planning and XP engineering practices, especially TDD, refactoring, mock objects, pair programming and continuous integration. You have a mastery of design principles and the object-oriented paradigm of software development. You know the basics of shell scripting, jQuery, AJAX, HTML, CSS and HTTP.

You are curious and always striving to get better at your profession. You know that you will work in a totally different way 10 years from now and you are not scared by it. You like to experiment with new languages, tools, and libraries, applying your new knowledge to your everyday work.

Garner makes a platform called exdocs, and they used to direct people to exdocs.com; you’ll still find links pointing there. The new Garner website is still relatively young, I gather, so it’s a little lean on content, but it’s not hard to find out more about their product and company with a web search. You’ll even turn up ancilliary sites like specializedbid.com and their old exdocs.com site (which redirects now to the Garner site).

The Good
First and foremost, this is a posting written by (or at least heavily influenced by) someone who understands technology and what developers care about. It’s written with care, and this makes it stand out over the vast majority of job postings.

As a result of that, you can get a much stronger vibe for their development culture than you can for most postings on areas like software quality and agility. The passion for software comes through. I like that the posting mentions technologies but isn’t pedantic about them.

This posting was given to me directly, rather than something I found on my own, by someone who I’ve known for a while. He’s looking for strong candidates and I hope that my posting this will help him find them. If we’re lucky, he’ll be able to respond to some of my points here to help clarify anything.

Garner’s industry focus on Oil, Gas, Mining and Pipelines mean that their market is an important one in Canada and one that has been doing pretty well over the last few years. Some of their older pages talk more generally about logistics, freight, land management and other sectors, so I suspect these growth sectors are becoming (or have become) their primary focus.

I’ve been curious about Continuous Delivery techniques for a while, but haven’t had much experience with them. I don’t get a strong sense from the posting of what they’re doing with continuous delivery, but the fact that it  gets mentioned at all is appealing to me.

The Location
Their Toronto office is near Queen and Spadina. It’s a nice area, and not terribly difficult to get to by TTC, GO or road vehicles. Lots of tech companies there, so many of their potential candidates will already be working in the area — if that’s you, then getting yourself into their office for an interview should be pretty easy.

Basically, this is one of the more common areas for tech work, and you probably already know the tradeoffs of this area well enough that I needn’t bother speculating on your behalf.

What’s Missing
Garner is privately held, so I don’t know much about how the business is doing, growth, finances.

The redirection of the website and refocusing on growth industries seem like normal business changes, but it’s hard to really assess those kinds of changes from the outside — you’d have to be really immersed in the company to understand the impact. Is this a recent and significant change or just gradual business evolution. Are people inside the company happy with these changes?

What’s the size and composition of the team? What would you be working on? What’s the compensation like?

What are they doing with continuous delivery?

How do they manage the mix of user experience design and agile approaches?

YMMV
Your mileage may vary when it comes to working on a platform for capital projects in the oil, gas, mining and pipelines sectors. It won’t be everyone’s perfect job. If you’re looking for a consumer-focused startup, this isn’t it.

I know people who’d never take another Java job at this point. Even for many dedicated Java developers, the bloom is off the rose. The technologies they talk about sound like solid ones, but you might not be hyper-excited about the technologies themselves.

In Summary
If you’re experienced with Java and the Web and you’re looking for a new position, I’d guess this is likely to be interesting.

UPDATES
I’ve made some minor edits based on minor changes since I started writing, or things that I learned after posting. I don’t think they affect the content in a way that’s worth describing in detail.


Destiny Solutions: Director of Software Development

March 31, 2008

Destiny Solutions is looking for a Director of Software Development to:

Take ownership of our implementation, customization, maintenance and new product development. You will report directly to the President, on initiatives to fulfill our client’s complex requirements while continuing to develop and hone our methodologies. Your ability to effectively communicate with and lead our delivery team will contribute to our continued success and growth.

Destiny describes themselves as follows (abbreviated):

Destiny Solutions is a leading provider of enterprise level applications for Educational institutions. Our primary product, Destiny OneCE, is designed to unite staff, instructors and students in one seamless process by providing a web based integrated business solution to streamline administration and operations. Our client list includes the continuing education divisions of Duke University, University of Toronto, Stanford University, University of California, Santa Cruz extension.

The Good
It’s a product company, the location’s not a bad one, and the role is pretty senior. There’s a fair amount of information about the company and the product.

Neutral and Mixed
The technology list is not horrible, although it’s also not exceptional. JSP and Struts rate mentions, so there’s probably no modern web framework, let alone Ajax. Tomcat and Hibernate are pluses for me, although I’m slightly surprised that there’s no mention of Spring. The role probably doesn’t involve a great deal of detailed technical work (like coding).

The Bad
As with Decisioning, Destiny mentions both PMP and Agile in the same breath, which makes me wonder somewhat about their approach to agile, although I don’t consider the two completely incompatible. Likewise, I’m not entirely sure that Microsoft Project fits into my normal agile toolset, but without knowing what they have in mind, I’m not going to pass judgement.

There’s very little sense of the compensation. I’m not personally very fond of the company name.

Summary
Located at Yonge and Eglinton, the location is likely to appeal first and foremost to those in midtown, uptown and out-of-town homes, although a reverse-commute to Yonge/Eglinton is not totally out-of-the-question for those in the downtown, or east and west.

Candidates should probably look into their take on process and probe a little further on the technology stack and the team, and definitely learn more about the compensation.

This seems like a good fit for someone in mid-town or up-town looking to find a director-level position in a product company.