Points: More Together

This is a quick blog about my initial impression of Points. And while I’m an employee of Points, all of the opinions and impressions shared here are mine and do not necessarily reflect that of Points. Now that I’ve got the legal stuff out of the way, on to the blog ๐Ÿ™‚ Although it’s with sadness that I leave Canpages, I’m quite excited to be starting at a new adventure. I’m pretty excited to have landed at Points.com. Points.com is a Canadian start-up that went public (TSE:PTS) in 2004 and is located on Queen and John in downtown Toronto. Although a public company, it still hasn’t lost its start up edge. As an example, I was greeted by Erika, the VP of HR, with mamosas at 10 am in the morning. Granted, it was to celebrate the move to our new office space. 

There were a few things that impressed me before I joined Points:

1) Focus on Quality
A lot of companies talk about desiring quality in the delivery but often times there is little more than lip service to the concept. In all of my conversations with Points, there was a strong emphasis in bringing on senior managers who would advocate quality delivery, which more or less translated to automated testing. I’m a huge advocate of the concept where product quality is not the responsibility of one member or a particular team but rather anyone who is part of the product delivery process. This concept is shared and advocated by everyone of the management team whom I’ve had an opportunity to speak with about product quality.

2) Clear direction
Excitingly enough – there is a five-year plan. I have to be honest here. I was a bit skeptical when I started. Often times in interviews, companies often talk about having plans of some sort but few have actually materialized after I was hired. I was given preview of Points’ five year plan late last week and I have to say that I’m very excited to be a part of the anticipated change. While the details of the five-year plan are confidential, I was particularly impressed with the detail in which it went into.

3) People oriented
The motto of Points.com is “more together.” From a business perspective, it implies that points are worth more when it can be consolidated. From a people perspective, it also means that we can accomplish more as a company of people rather than individuals. Although it’s only been a couple of weeks, there are so many great things from a people perspective here at Points. The first are the simple things such as free pop (or soda for you American folk). I love the fact that there are shower facilities and places to lock your bike up. There is the weekly beer cart that goes around with beer, wine and snacks. This will be the first time in years when I’m not buying snacks for the team out of my own pocket, which is nice :D. But more than that, there are certain HR policies which I connect to such as all my benefits are paid for by Points. I’m more accustomed to having my benefits subsidized and having to pay for the rest. I love the fact that sick days aren’t officially tracked here with the belief that people won’t abuse it. It’s awesome to find a company that trusts its employees because trust is a two-way street. This is especially important to me because in general tech folk tend to work crazy hours. Frankly, I’d rather have a team member take the day off and not worry about using up sick days than coming in and getting more people sick.

Here’s another amazing story for me to tell. I had a special occasion this week with my wife. Being in IT for more than a decade, it’s pretty normal for me to be late and often times even canceling out. My family is used to that. Sure enough an emergency came up, and Dave, the CTO, and I worked through the issue. It took me only an hour longer than I was expected to leave and I still got to my dinner which I quickly postponed. I didn’t think much about it until we got home on Saturday where Dave had sent flowers to my wife apologizing on my behalf. It was a really thoughtful gesture. My wife was quite impressed.

flowers

Another distinct characteristic of the organization is its sense of humour. Everyone who works here seems to have one. Laughter is very common in our scrums and personal interactions.

4) Down-to-earth
Although we have ample space in the building, only a handful of people have offices while everyone including VPs and the CTO have cubicle space and are proud of it. One of the most interesting moments that I had an opportunity to observe was the COO and CTO huddle at the CTOs cubicle to work on something. No one seems hung up on titles and everyone wants to get the job done. People are both passionate and dedicated about their jobs. The constant theme in my conversations with the tech team is ownership. There is the fundamental belief and desire that we own our technology and that we drive our destiny.

Although I’ve only completed my second week here at Points.com, I have to say that I’m looking forward to my time here. The two weeks have gone by quickly and it’s been quite exciting already.